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What our expert thought of Klaus Lentsch, 'Amperg', Südtiroler Weissburgunder

about this wine About this wine
Italy is red wine country.  All of its most famed wines are red: think of Barolo, Chianti, Amarone and Brunello.  Its best-known whites have decidedly lesser reputations for quality: Soave, Pinot Grigio, Frascati and Orvieto.
It may be that Italy got luckier with native black grape varieties like Sangiovese and Nebbiolo than with white ones like Trebbiano and Catarratto.  Climate is definitely a factor: much of Italy enjoys an extreme version of the Mediterranean climate with exceptionally long dry summers favouring the ripening of reds.
But there are three Italian regions that buck the trend by being more famous for their whites.  Campania is one, and we tasted a fine Greco di Tufo from there only a month ago.  Another is Friuli, in the far north-east on the border with Slovenia.  The third lies two hundred kilometres west-north-west of Friuli: the Alto Adige, Italy’s northernmost tip.
These are some of the most scenic vineyards in Italy, terraced into the steep valley sides and surrounded by the snowcapped peaks of the Dolomites, but they don’t look  very Italian.  They don’t sound it either; most people here speak German as their first language, and most places have both a German and an Italian name.  As does the whole region – in German it is the Südtirol.
For most of its history Südtirol was in fact part of Austria.  At the end of the First World War the defeated Austro-Hungarian empire ceded it to Italy, but it retains a very distinct identity.  So do its wines, which are largely white and express pure varietal flavours reminiscent of Austrian dry whites.  But though the style may be Austrian, the grape varieties used are mostly French: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
This wine perfectly expresses this collision of cultures: the front label is almost entirely in German and proudly proclaims it to be a Weissburgunder by Klaus Lentsch from Südtirol - Alto Adige.  But the back label has two DOC names in equal-sized type under the 2014 vintage: the first says “Alto Adige Pinot Bianco” and the second “Südtiroler Weissburgunder”, and both mean exactly the same thing.  The German name Weissburgunder is particularly revealing for it means White Burgundy, which is almost certainly where this grape, the Pinot Blanc, originated.
Burgundy may be its fatherland but the Südtirol seems to suit it rather better; many of the best-regarded Pinot Blancs on the planet come from this tiny region.  Nights here are always cold even in high summer, which preserves fresh acidity and pure aromas in a variety not over-endowed with either.  Meanwhile the reliably dry, sunny days and long autumns allow it to ripen fully, developing its notably food-friendly apple and citrus flavours.
This wine comes from Lentsch’s south-east facing vineyards between the famous wine villages of St. Pauls and Kaltern, in the hilly Überetsch subregion at around 500m altitude.  Following a short period of cold maceration, the juice was run off the skins and fermented in stainless steel at a temperature-controlled 17°C.  After about 10 days the wine was racked off the coarse lees and then matured on its fine lees in stainless steel for five months, with frequent battonage (lees-stirring), before being bottled in April following the vintage.
the tasting The Tasting
A pale lemon colour, this even looks  crisp.  Swirling reveals prominent legs on the side of the glass, which is unexpected in a dry wine of only 12.5%.
The nose is light but lovely, with delicate scents of lemon, cut grass and white flowers. (I’m tempted to say edelweiss, but I’ve never smelt one!)
Piercingly crisp acidity leads on the palate, followed by stony citrus flavours like lemon juice squeezed over rocks.  As it warms in the mouth these are joined by sharp green apple, like biting into a fresh Granny Smith.  Initially light-bodied, it puts on surprising weight in the mouth but without losing its purity and focus.
There’s an intriguing hint of celery here too, especially on the mouthwatering, saline finish.
So Alpine in its freshness and purity that you can almost hear it yodelling, this is the perfect wine to drink while watching “The Sound of Music”.  The Austrian influence is particularly apparent in that subtle hint of celery salt, which is something I usually find only on Grüner Veltliner – Austria’s trademark variety.

Tasting notes

clear pale lemon

Intensity light+, but lovely

Aromas citrus (lemon), cut grass, white flowers

Development youthful

Sweetness fully dry

Acidity high

Body medium-, builds in mouth

Intensity medium

Flavours citrus & mineral (lemon on stones), orchard fruit (green 'Granny Smith' apple), vegetal (celery)

Length medium, mouthwatering, saline

Flavours celery salt
Other notes
Alpine purity & freshness. Unoaked. Nose slightly reductive on first opening. Should improve for a couple of years.

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