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What our expert thought of Tramin, Lagrein, Alto Adige




the tasting

The Tasting


There’s nothing pale about this one!  It’s a deep, dark ruby with a distinctly purple edge to it.
 
It even smells purple, of mulberries and blueberry jam.  The nose is fascinating: intense, spicy and herbaceous too, with scents of moss and forest floor.  The spice component most closely resembles allspice, which got its name in the 17th century because the English thought it combined the scents of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
 
There’s a floral hint of violets, too, combined with some copper penny minerality.  Just to round things off are notes of leather and chocolate that are probably derived from oak aging.
 
The palate is dry but sweet-fruited, with very juicy plum and blackberry flavours.  Initially it seems quite light and soft, with the modest alcohol coming as rather a surprise after the powerful scent, but it puts on weight and intensity in the mouth.  Black tea leafiness and a beetroot earthiness join in.
 
Juicy acidity wins out over light but slightly drying tannins on the earthy finish, which ends on a little lavender note.


Assessment


This berry-filled alpine red has style, character and that marvellous, multi-faceted nose.  Indeed the nose at first overshadows the palate, which is more subtle but nonetheless delicious.  Despite being fully dry, there is a sweet purity to the fruit that is uncommon in Italian reds.
 
It may just be because I’m aware of the Austrian influence on this part of Italy, but I’m reminded of the Blaufränkisch that we drank last year.  That too was purple, both in the glass and in its dark berry fruit; combined earthiness with pure fruits; and featured a spicy nose with that unusual copper coin character. 
 
That wine seemed unoaked but had been softened by aging in large, old-oak barrels, and I think the mix of barrels used to age this wine have been instrumental in taming Lagrein’s notorious tannins while adding a extra layer of complexity to the nose.  Still, such is the resemblance that it’s tempting to think the two varieties might be closely related, even though I know they’re not.
 
Perhaps it’s in the nature of alpine reds, grown high where nights and winters are cold, but where sunny south-facing slopes and the rain shadow of the mighty peaks around ensure hot, dry summer days to ripen those intense berry flavours.



Tasting notes

Appearance
clear deep ruby, distinctly purple
Nose

Intensity medium+(+?)

Aromas blue/black berries (mulberry, blueberry jam), spice (allspice), floral (violets), herbaceous (moss, forest floor), oak (leather, chocolate)

Development developing
Palate

Sweetness dry, but sweet-fruited

Acidity medium+

Body medium, starts light but builds

Tannins light+, slightly drying

Intensity medium+

Flavours juicy black fruits (plum, blackberry), herbal (black tea), earthy (beetroot)
Finish

Length medium

Flavours juicy, earthy, ends on lavender
Other notes
Fascinating, complex nose, smells ‘purple’. Modest alcohol a surprise after powerful scent. Initially soft, puts on weight & intensity in mouth. Alpine purity!


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