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Alto Adige producing Cabernet Sauvignon to “rival Bordeaux”

Published:  16 September, 2021

Rising temperatures are encouraging winegrowers in Italy’s Alto Adige region to plant more Bordeaux varieties that had previously struggled to ripen, according to a leading producer.

Andreas Kofler, president of Cantina Kurtatsch, told Harpers that the quality of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot harvested in recent vintages was “unprecedented,” encouraging the family firm to increase their holdings by 65% since 2014.

“Since the early 1990s, we have specialised in the production of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, which would only [reliably] ripen on our warmest sites (220-350m),” said Kofler.

“Yet over the last 10 years the quality has soared and reached unprecedented levels – the Cabernet has historically never been this great. We have reached the point where, in good vintages, we are producing wines from the Medoc's ‘trio’ that are on a level with the famous wines from Bordeaux and Bolgheri.”

According to Kofler, Kurtatsch introduced a sustainability program in 2015 and has modified their viticulture to take advantage of higher altitude sites in the zone, in response to global warming.

“We replaced our Müller Thurgau (which needs the coolest climate) vineyards at below 800 meters with Pinot Grigio or Pinot Bianco. We also replanted our Sauvignon and Pinot Blanc vineyards at altitudes of 450m above sea level – they were formerly planted at 350m.”

Situated at the southern tip of Austria’s Tyrol region, Alto Adige is Italy’s most northerly vineyard. Winegrowing largely takes place on the slopes of the Adige Valley, rising to an elevation of 1,000m above sea level.