Elena Walch 2020 Lagrein, Alto-Adige, Italy
Elena Walch is a leading Alto Adige wine estate, in family hands, and belongs to the elite in Italian wine production, with international success.
Winemaker: Elana Walch
From our March 2020 Bottle Club:
Elana Walch | Lagrein | AltoAdige, Italy | 2020
Elena Walch is a L E G E N D. An architect by trade, it was through marriage she gained access to vineyards and facilities that she’d soon transform into one of the most important wineries in Italy. Founded in 1985, Elana Walch was the first woman with an eponymous wine estate in Trentino-Alto Adige, and now her daughters Karoline and Julia are leading the next generation. Elena Walch’s wine cellar in Tramin was built over 150 years ago from natural stone, underground below dramatic, sloping vineyards above church spires. Sustainability and organic viticulture have been the guiding mission from the start.
Alto Adige (aka Südtirol or Trentino-Alto Adige) is a very unique wine region for Italy. High up in the Dolomites and the southern Alps on the border of Austria (Tyrol), it is one of the oldest wine-growing regions in German-speaking Europe. Vines were cultivated by the ancient Alpine Rhaeti tribe before their conquer by the Roman Empire in 15 BC. Centuries passed as this area’s claim was traded between empires. Bishops of The Holy Roman Empire, the Count of Tyrol, the Hapsburgs of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bavaria, The Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, and then even the Third Reich all laid claim to these lands. After World War II, the region was granted autonomy by the Republic of Italy and split across two provinces: the northern, majority German-speaking Alto Adige/Südtirol, and the southern, Italian-influenced Trentino. The dual culture can be seen everywhere, and many wine labels are written in both German and Italian.
The alpine climate, high elevations, and a diverse soil structure from eons of glaciers mixing ancient seabeds with clay, limestone, and quartz create myriad microclimates for all types of interesting grape varieties. Lagrein is a red grape native to Alto Adige, a descendant of Teroldegoand related to Syrah and Pinot Noir. It was nearly extinct in 1970 but had found its traditionalist champions who saved old vineyards and propagated new ones. Now it is about 8% of the total area cultivated here. We’re so happy it survived. The Walch women begin the fermentation in stainless steel before moving it to large, neutral French and Slavonian barrels for aging. With its deep garnet red color, the rich perfume provokes subtle spiciness, mocha, mulberries, and sweet cherry. A distinct tannic structure, silky richness, lively but earthy charm, youthful vibrancy, and a lengthy, juicy finish makes this a wine you can enjoy with anything from salty aged cheese to roasted game birds or beef stew, but light enough to drink in the warmest days of spring. — Cara Patricia