When Simon first joined the wine trade, and was being schooled in the approach to blind tasting, a senior and experienced colleague once said to Simon: ‘If you taste a pale wine with no obvious oak, not hugely aromatic with modest acidity and a modest fruit character, you can be 99% certain it is Italian, as Italy is home to many bland, innocuous white wines’. Clearly, he had never tasted the stunning whites of Cantina Terlano in Alto Adige, virtually on the Austrian border. These are world-class wines…See our full offer, below.
Antonio Galloni gave the 1955 Pinot Bianco ‘Vorberg’ – yes the 1955 – 100 points when tasted in 2013, commenting that it surprised a group of wine lovers who have had the world’s greatest bottles many times. His colleague, Ian d’Agata, scored the 1959 at 99 point, and the 1966 at 98 points. Recent vintages fair well too, with the 2015 ‘I Primo’ registering 97 points with d’Agata. I think you will get the feeling from the comments and scores, that these are seriously fine wines. Innocuous they are not. We offer 2016 Pinot Bianco Riserva, Vorberg, Cantina Terlano at £170 per 6 bottle case in bond.
Cantina Terlano is easily one of the leading producers, based in north-eastern Alto Adige. Founded nearly 40 years ago, it is, surprisingly, a cooperative boasting 143 growers who pool together 190 hectares of vines!
Pinot Bianco (a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir) is the most significant variety at Terlano and ‘Vorberg’ (meaning ‘in front of the mountain’) is the flagship white. The fruit for the Vorberg derives from vines in sandy soils on steep south/southwest facing slopes at altitudes of 400-900 meters. The nutrient-poor soils control the natural vigour of the vines, while the aspect and altitude allow fruit to ripen fully and evenly. The result is a wine with both concentrated floral aromatics and notable minerality.
Nothing at Terlano is rushed; two green harvests are carried out to control yields and fruit is hand harvested and selected. Gentle, whole cluster pressing is employed, and fermentation and ageing both occur in large oak barrels. So committed to producing age-worthy wines, the Cantina actually holds back a few thousand bottles of Vorberg for at least four years. This practice has its roots in the post-war years when Sebastian Stocker, the ‘Kellermeister’ (cellar master), would hide bottles behind walls. You can actually still see some of his hiding places when you visit the winery.
Following our tasting, we were left in no doubt that the 2016 Vorberg is a world-class wine, comfortably among the finest, young Italian whites we have tasted collectively.
Please see below for my full note.
2016 Pinot Bianco Riserva, Vorberg, Cantina Terlano
£170 per 6 bottle case in bond
Offering scented, candied lemon and orange peel aromas on the nose with a hint of chamomile, there is a complex zesty fruit at the core of this impressive Pinot Bianco; lime and grapefruit allied to juicy stone fruit flavours of yellow plum and peach. The richness on the mid-palate gently builds with a slightly leesty, creamy element to the mouthfeel, but by no means overplayed. Underpinned by a terrific streak of salinity, this 2016 finishes with a smoky mineral quality. Long and pure, with great clarity to the fruit, this wine refuses to fade. Simply put, this is a stunner and will come as a surprise to those who haven’t tasted before. This could be enjoyed on release or left to age gracefully, but don’t worry about it lacking potential to age. Drink 2020-2035+
Please let us know of your interest. It will be available for delivery from the end of next week.