Guests were coming and Michele decided to make beef goulash, a recipe from her book The Italian Slow Cooker.
I was surprised when she mentioned “goulash”, but she said that northern Italy’s Alto Adige region has more in common with neighboring Austria than it does with the rest of Italy. I decided to serve some wines from the Alto Adige to go with the meal.
The Alto Adige (Südtirol) region, which borders on Austria and Switzerland, is at the foot of the Alps and the Dolomites. The Alps protect it from inclement weather from the North and the Atlantic, while the Dolomites protect the vineyards from the cold, damaging winds from the east. Along with its proximity to the Mediterranean and Lake Garda, this makes it an excellent region to grow grapes. It is interesting to note that in the summer, the temperature in Bolzano is higher than in Palermo in Sicily.
The people that live here call their region the Sud Tirol and themselves Tyroleans. The food is decidedly Austrian with only a hint of Italy. Ham is called Speck and they have a cheese called Weinkase Lagrein and bread called Schuttelbrot.
I decided on 3 wines from one of my favorite wineries, the Abbazia di Novacella, a monastery.
The Abbazia di Novacella is located in the northern most winegrowing region of Italy in the Alto Adige on the southern side of the Alps where the vineyards for the white wines are located. The monastery also owns vineyards in the warm central region of the Alto Adige, which supplies the red grapes such as Lagrein from the Mariaheim vineyard in Bolzano.
Kerner 2014 DOC Alto Adige-Valley Isarco 100% Kerner the vineyards are located in the municipalities of Bressanone, Varna and Naz-Sciaves and are at 600 to 700 meters. The soil is gravelly morainal deposits and the exposure is south-southwest. The training system is guyot and there are 6,000 to 7,000 vines per hectare. The harvest takes place in early October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at 20°C. Natural and selected yeast is used and the wine remains in stainless steel tanks for 6 months before it is bottled. This is an aromatic white wine with hints of apple and peach, ripe and full with crisp acidity.
In 1929 August Herold a German crossed of a red variety Schiava and Riesling. The result was Kerner named in honor of the poet and physician, Justinus Kerner from Swabia. We had drank the Kerner with thinly sliced speck and ripe pears.
Muller Thurgau 2014 DOC Alto Adige-Isarco -Same as above. This is a fresh and fruity, delicately aromatic white wine with hints of lemon, green apple. It has good acidity.
Herman Muller from the Swiss Canton of Thurgau created this white grape variety in 1882. Recent DNA testing shows it is a cross between Riesling and Madeleine Royal and not Sylvaner as was once believed. We had this with gnocchi in a light tomato sauce.
Lagrein 2014 Alto Adige DOC 100% Lagrein The vineyard is at 260 to 350 meters and the soil is a mixture of sand, clay and eroded quartzite porphyry. There are 2,500 to 3,00 vines/ha and the training system is guyot. Harvest is in early October. Fermentation with natural and selected yeasts takes place in stainless steel punch down tanks and lasts for about 15 days. This is followed by malolactic fermentation and maturation in 60hl oak casks for about 6 months and 2 months in bottle before release. It has hints of violets, blackberries and black cherry with a touch of coffee and dark chocolate.
It was the perfect accompaniment to the beef goulash.