Edinburgh wine merchant unveils a new range of Pinot Noirs from the Italian Dolomite Alps 

Oleg Dmitriev from Independent Wine has written for us (first in our January paper) about some wine recommendations for this month.

Alto Adige, in the foothills of the Dolomite Alps, is known for producing the best Pinot Noir (Pinot Nero) in Italy. The denomination is part of the wider Trentino-Alto Adige region, which is famous for cool-climate wines. While aromatic white wines like Gewürztraminer and Pinot Grigio are the best-known, the region’s light-bodied and elegant red wines are also well worth discovering.

Pinot Noir – or Pinot Nero in Italian – accounts of 8.9% of Alto Adige’s vineyard area, covering 494 hectares. Most of it is grown on terraced slopes halfway up the foothills, starting at 400m above sea level. Some truly magnificent high altitude Pinot Noirs are also made in the region, produced from grapes that grow more than a kilometre above sea level. This expressive grape is excellent at showcasing its terroir, and in Alto Adige the grape is usually grown on calcareous gravel. 

Although Alto Adige is a cool climate region, it also gets a lot of sunshine – more than 300 days per year, to be precise. The Pinot Noir vines are grown on the south-east and south-west facing slopes of the Adige river valley, an aspect which gives them plenty of sun exposure. During the day, the bright light and warmth help the sugars and aromas develop inside the grapes. By night, the cool mountain winds and high altitude combine to keep the grapes cool – so they maintain plenty of acid for a crisp, juicy flavour. 

Pinot Noir from Alto Adige usually has a pronounced flavour of red and purple berries. Expect tangy dried cranberry, juicy wild strawberry and zingy notes of woodland raspberry. It pairs well with gamey meat;  especially venison, rabbit and spring lamb. It’s also the perfect accompaniment to aged cheese.

Alto Adige DOC is still fairly under the radar, so Pinot Noir from this northernmost corner of Italy is bound to impress any fan of Burgundy, Russian River Valley and Central Otago.

Five of the best Alto Adige DOC Pinot Noir wines to try now

  • Kurtatsch Mazon Pinot Noir Riserva 2016 – matured inside a mountain cave, this Pinot Noir has a distinct mineral flavour. It tastes like Alpine woodland: wild strawberry, mint and a hint of forest floor.
  • Kurtatsch Glen Pinot Noir Riserva 2017 –  Named one of the ten best Pinot Noirs in Italy by the “Concorso Pinot Nero”, this highly complex wine boasts flavours of hibiscus tea, cranberry, rosemary and clove.
  • K.Martini & Sohn, Paladium Pinot Noir 2017 – Exclusively available from Independent Wine in the UK, this award-winning Pinot Noir is gently aged in large second-use oak barrels. This adds a hint of spice without overpowering the natural perfume of the wine.
  • Peter Zemmer Pinot Noir Riserva Vigna Kofl 2017 – Another UK-exclusive, this Pinot Noir tastes of rose petals, cloves and dried strawberry. It comes from a single vineyard located 1,030 metres above sea level. 
  • Peter Zemmer Pinot Noir Rolhüt 2018 – Captivating flavours of fresh and dried red fruits characterise this bright and velvety wine, crafted at Peter Zemmer’s family-owned winery.

Of course, that’s just scratching the surface: there are lots of incredible wines to try from Alto Adige, not just Pinot Noir. All of these fabulous Pinot Noirs – and many other wines from Alto Adige – are available from me at Edinburgh-based online merchant, Independent Wine. 

Although their warehouse is tucked under the Dean Bridge in the New Town, it is an exclusively online business. you can place orders online at their website www.independent.wine and get free next day delivery across Edinburgh. With free gift-wrapping available, and no minimum order, it’s easy to send a bottle (or two) to friends in other parts of the mainland UK too.


Gewurztraminer grapes in Peter Zemmer’s vineyard in Alto Adige Photo Oleg