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Where Alto Adige’s Top Class Thrives

A Journey into the Land of DOC Cultivation Zones

Unique in all of Italy: over 98% of the area planted with grapes in Alto Adige is under DOC protection, thus pushing the region to the very top. But what actually lies behind the promising designation “DOC”?

The DOC Controlled Designation of Origin guarantees the adherence to strict provisions that range from the maximum yields in the vineyard to the acidity content in the bottle. It is not without reason that the Italian Wine Act No. 238 of December 12, 2016, places the DOC and DOCG wines as well as wines from single vineyards at the apex of the quality pyramid.
In Alto Adige winemaking, the Controlled Designations of Origin “Alto Adige” or “Südtiroler” and “Lago di Caldaro” or “Kalterersee” are used for the identification of the DOC wines. The winegrowers can trust that only controlled wineries can claim the DOC status for themselves and advertise with it.

Alto Adige (Südtiroler)

The designation “Alto Adige” may be carried by all common Alto Adige grape varieties that conform with the DOC provisions. The grape variety involved is to be additionally indicated (such as “Alto Adige Lagrein”). Without a further addition, this designation by itself may only be used for sparkling wine and for “Alto Adige Bianco” (“Südtiroler Weiß”) white wines.

Lago di Caldaro (Kalterersee)

If the “Lago di Caldaro” or “Kalterersee” wine is produced in one of the Alto Adige winegrowing zones, then both the words “Alto Adige” or "Südtirol” and the additional designation “classico” or “klassisch” may be used. Top-quality wines may also go on the market as “superiore” or “Auslese” [“select”].

Alto Adige Valle Isarco (Südtirol Eisacktaler)

In the Isarco Valley, it is almost exclusively white wines that are produced. The only exception is formed by the “Klausner Laitacher”. The designation “Alto Adige Valle Isarco” or “Südtirol Eisacktaler” must be followed by a designation of variety or location. The permitted grape varieties for white wines are Sylvaner, Veltliner, Pinot Grigio, Müller Thurgau, Kerner, Gewürztraminer, and Riesling.

Alto Adige Santa Maddalena (Südtirol St. Magdalener)

The “Santa Maddalena” flourishes on the slopes north of Bolzano and is a classic Schiava (Vernatsch) wine which may also contain up to 15% Lagrein or Pinot Noir. If the wine comes from the zones of St. Magdalena, St. Justina, Rentsch, Leitach, or St. Peter, it may carry the additional designation “classico - klassisch”.

Alto Adige Terlano (Südtirol Terlaner)

This designation may only be used for white wines from the Terlan area. Without a listing of the grape variety, “Alto Adige Terlano” or “Südtirol Terlaner” is a white wine cuvée that contains a minimum of 50% Pinot Blanc and/or Chardonnay.

Alto Adige Meranese (Südtirol Meraner)

The “Alto Adige Meranese” or “Südtirol Meraner” wine grows in the cultivation zone around Merano and is made only from the Vernatsch (Schiava) grape variety.

Alto Adige Valle Venosta (Südtirol Vinschgau)

In Alto Adige’s newest DOC zone, the grapes that are permitted are Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Müller Thurgau, Riesling, Kerner, Gewürztraminer, Schiava (Vernatsch), and Pinot Noir. The designation “Alto Adige Valle Venosta” or “Südtirol Vinschgau” must always be followed by the varietal designation.

Alto Adige Colli di Bolzano (Südtirol Bozner Leiten)

The “Colli di Bolzano” (“Bozner Leiten”) is a Schiava (Vernatsch) whose cultivation zone lies like a belt around the Santa Maddalena (St. Magdalena) area.