Every time Peter Zemmer is in town showing the Estate Wines of Peter Zemmer, I look forward to experience them at a tasting and lunch. I look forward to lunch because these are excellent food wines, and what better way to judge the qualities of a wine than with food. The tasting and lunch this year was held at Gotham Bar and Grill in NYC. The Zemmer wines are a great value. The wines that I tasted ranged in price from $17 to $21 and all of them were well worth the money.
Pete began by saying that the winery was established in 1928, and is located in the Alto Adige-South Tyrol in Northeastern Italy. He spoke about Cortina D’Ampezzo, a beautiful skiing and hiking resort in the Alps, as “his town.” Cortina, he said, is among the smallest communities in the region and is also the last village with a German-speaking majority before the southern border with Trentino. It is also the only village in the Southern Tyrolean Lowlands/Unterland that is situated on the valley floor. He described the vineyards and fruit trees that surround the town and told us that the daytime temperature can be 40 degrees higher than the night temperature which enhances the aromas and flavors in the grapes. Bolzano, the largest town in the area, can have summer daytime temperatures as high as Palermo, far to the South in Sicily.
Lagrine Rosé 2013 Alto Adige DOC made from 100% Lagrein After the stems are removed the grapes are left to macerate for one day and then pressed. Peter said that in this way, they succeed in only partially imparting the coloring, which is obtained from the skins, to the must and the wine is able to obtain its fine rosé tone. The alcoholic fermentation is carried out with pure strains of yeast at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. This is the first vintage to been imported into the U.S. This is a wine with nice fruit aromas and flavors, hints of wild berries and violets, with good acidity and a soft spicy finish. $18
Pinot Grigio 2013 Alto Adige DOC There is a selection of grapes from the best vineyards of the valley floor and the steep slopes nearby. The soil here is stony, sandy and extremely chalky. Peter said that the low yields per hectare and this particular terroir combines for a very particular Pinot Grigio. The grapes are gently pressed, then clarified through the natural settling of sediment. Alcoholic fermentation is carried out with pure strains of yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation does not occur in any of the white wines. The wine remains on the lees for several months before it is bottled. It has more depth than most Pinot Grigio, with ripe fresh fruit, a touch of pear, a hint of spice, good mineral character, and fresh acidity. $17
Pinot Bianco 2012 “Pünggle Vineyard” Alto Adige DOC This Pinot Bianco is a selection of the best vineyards of the valley floor and steep slopes near the vineyard estate. It flourishes under outstanding climatic conditions on a stony, sandy and extremely chalky soil. Peter said that the poor yield per hectare and the particular terroir are responsible for the outstanding quality of the wine. After the grapes arrive, they are gently pressed and clarified through the natural settling of sediments. The alcoholic fermentation is carried out with pure strains of yeast at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. Peter said that after several months of ripening on the yeast the wine in ready to bottle. This is a wine with rich fruity aromas and flavors with hints of green apple, fresh acidity and a mineral character. $20
Rhine Riesling “Rohracker Vineyard” 2013 Alto Adige DOC. Peter said that this grape is very well suited to the micro-climatic conditions and the loose, well-aerated soils in the area. Even though Riesling is a rare variety here it loves cooler climates so that this vineyard where the grapes are grown is at a higher elevation. The grapes are pressed and the stems are removed in a pneumatic tank press. Before being pressed, a 6 – 8 hour cold maceration takes place in order to enhance the fruitiness of the wine. Afterwards, the grapes are gently pressed and clarified through the natural settling of sediments. The alcoholic fermentation is carried out with pure strains of yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. This is a nice crisp dry wine with good body and hints of green apple and a touch of peach. It has a nice finish and aftertaste. $20
Pinot Nero “Rollhütt Vineyard’ 2012 Alto Adige DOC 100% Pinot Noir. The stems are immediately removed and the grapes are fermented at a constant temperature of 26 – 28° C (79 – 82° F) for about 7 days. The must is kept in contact with the skins through circulation pumping and gentle pressure from below. Peter said that they achieve ideal results with the coloring of the skins and this emphasizes the fruitiness of the wine. After two gentle rackings, 70% of this Pinot Noir is aged over 12 months in large barrels of French oak, and the remainder is aged in small casks of French oak (barriques), which are 2 – 3 years old. After blending, 750 ml Bordeaux-style bottles are filled and the wine is aged an additional 6 months in the bottle before it goes on sale. $22
Lagrein 2012 Raut Vineyard Alto Adige DOC 100% Lagrein Peter said that this varietal, unique to Alto Adige, finds excellent growing conditions on the loamy soils of the community of Ora. Tender care of the vineyard offers the best conditions for the production of varietal and extraordinary quality. The stems are immediately removed and the grapes are fermented at a constant temperature of 28° C (82° F) for about 10 days. The must is kept in regular contact with the skins through circulation pumping and gentle pressure from below. Peter said by this they achieve ideal results with the coloring from the skins and emphasize the fruitiness of the wine. After two gentle rackings, 60% of this Lagrein is aged over 12 months in large oak barrels, and the remainder is aged in small casks of French oak (barriques), which are 2 – 3 years old. After blending, 750 ml. Bordeaux-style bottles are filled and the wine is aged an additional 6 months in the bottle before it goes on sale. This is a big, intense complex wine with hints of wild berries, violets and spice. $21