White wines with fresh, filigree fruit and a fine luster, red wines with great aroma and character, excellent structure, and perfect tannin structure – that is how the 2011 vintage has turned out in Alto Adige.

The course of the year in Alto Adige's vineyards was anything but easy. Capricious weather, hailstorms, and last but not least the appearance of a non-native pest, the spotted wing drosophila, posed great challenges for all those involved in some areas. In spite of numerous difficulties, “The 2011 harvest did in fact go on to exceed all expectations,” reports a pleased Josef Brigl of the traditional winery bearing the same name in Appiano. And Alto Adige's other winegrowers and winemakers are more than satisfied – especially because here and there they managed to truly get off lightly from what could have been much more severe.

The White Wines

The 2011 white wines came off very well in early ripening areas. “Because of the cool August, a fine acidity and mineral quality were able to develop,” reports Otmar Donà, winemaker of the Kurtatsch Winery. For Stefan Kapfinger, winemaker of the Meraner Winery, what are most convincing are “Pinot Blancs with great power, fresh and typical Müller Thurgaus, and very exotic Sauvignon Blancs.” Particularly standing out are Chardonnays, Pinot Grigios, and Gewürztraminers, which especially profited from the warm autumn.

In the higher white wine locations, which include the Isarco Valley and the Val Venosta, “The high temperatures during the harvest period led to high sugar levels and low acidity values,” explains Hannes Baumgartner of the Strasserhof in Neustift. The whites here show themselves with a great deal of fruit and pronounced aromas and are thick and broad. Here and there, however, there may be a little missing from the typical freshness and crispness. “By their very nature, though, Riesling, Kerner, and Sylvaner are provided with more acidity, and for that reason they did not suffer so much from the heat,” Baumgartner adds. For him, in the Isarco Valley in 2011 it is above all the Veltliners that stand out “which, with their full body, can in every respect keep pace with those from the Wachau .”

In the Val Venosta, what scores a hit, according to Stefan Kapfinger , are “above all the Rieslings, although with somewhat less of a mineral quality, but for that reason with crispy fruit as well as strong fragrance and expressiveness.”

The Red Wines
With the red wines of 2011, everyone agrees: the absolute hit is Lagrein. Christian Werth, winemaker of the Klosterkellerei Muri Gries, has rarely received such ripe and extremely healthy grapes at the winery. “Thus far, there has in fact hardly been such an outstanding Lagrein vintage as 2011,” says the Bolzano winemaker, expressing his pleasure. “The wines are dense and concentrated, with acidity values that are slightly above the normal averages. And with their smoothness and maturity, the basic wines are already a lot of fun to drink right now.”

Those winemakers who were able to escape the hailstorms are also very satisfied with the Vernatsch (Schiava) wines. “In 2011, we finally once again have a typical, quaffable, fresh Vernatsch,” says Josef Brigl with enthusiasm. And Stefan Kapfinger is also convinced: “The Vernatsch harvest, which was moved forward because of the spotted wing drosophila, did not damage the wines.” Quite the contrary. And in the Alto Adige Lowlands, for Otmar Donà there is “Vernatsch with a radiant color, a lot of acidity, and a great deal of fruit – as we have rarely seen before.” The Kalterersee and St. Magdalener turn out to not be as full-bodied as in the last two vintages, but they are still very fruity and drinkable – just the way a Vernatsch wine is supposed to be.

The Pinot Noir grapes also arrived in the cellars perfectly ripe. And everyone is enthusiastic about the qualities of the 2011 Cabernets and Merlots. The winemakers are convinced that it is “one of the best vintages of the past two decades: the density, intensity of color, and fruit sweetness of the wines beat all others – we are dealing with the highest level and perfect quality!” The ideal autumn weather absolutely did its job here.

The winemakers rank the red wines of the vintage all around as “very good to excellent”. The Alto Adige white wines are rated as “good to very good”. In any case, they are unanimously convinced that 2011 is “an exciting vintage with some absolute high points." Christian Werth emphasizes, “The year 2011 is very clearly expressed in the wines. Wine becomes the mirror of nature and of every year – and that’s what makes it so exciting for everyone. For the winegrowers just as much as for us winemakers and all wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs.”