European Union, thank you!

Alto Adige (Südtirol) and its peculiar interpretation of the future of terroir. A diluted situation.

Explanation: There is a EU law that allows the blending of two wines from subzones (a smaller, more specific area of the general Alto Adige DOC) and sites (small geographic area, often a section of a village or commune). 85 % of the wine must come from the subzone or site stated on the label, the other 15 % can come from a different subzone or site.

As smaller geographic units, subzones and sites are something more specific and unique than the general Alto Adige DOC.

Here are two examples:

  1. The contents of a Pinot Blanc from the subzone Terlano is legally permitted to include 15 % grapes from Valle Isarco and still carry the name “Pinot Bianco Terlano” on the label.
  2. A Pinot Noir from the superb site Mazon is permitted to include 15 % grapes from another site in Alto Adige, for example from Valle Venosta, and still be labelled “Pinot Nero Mazon”.

Critical minds justifiably question what these different subzones and sites share, because they are geographically quite distanced from one another and their geologies and microclimates differ greatly.

Despite this, the Consorzio Vini Alto Adige decided at the general assembly of members (interestingly, production volume of members is decisive in the number of votes allocated to them)

on 21 May 2017 that in the future, Alto Adige would also permit blending of up to 15 % from different subzones or sites.

The general assembly naturally did have the possibility not to apply the EU law, but rather to adhere to their stricter regulations.

Attention: there is nothing wrong with a blend; it is a very normal technical practice. But is this advantageous for wines that should speak of a specific terroir?

When it comes to the uniqueness of a site – the interplay of grape variety, geology, and microclimate – that should be expressed in a wine, then the origin of this wine should remain undiluted in order to retain its authentic expression.

The question must now be asked: can a wine that is not 100 % from a single site yield the ultimate expression of its terroir? In my opinion, NO!

We would like to hope, that Alto Adige will soon revise this rash decision.

Martin Foradori Hofstätter

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