It’s tempting to sample wines made from obscure grapes just to say you’ve had one. The true reason to try them is because winemakers who grow them are likely to be deeply committed to their local varieties, true believers in their terroirs and anxious to produce the best wine possible. In Italy, where you can’t throw a stone without plunking a vineyard full of grapes you’ve never heard of, this tendency is particularly pronounced. In the Dolomites, where Italian and Austrian culture mingles freely, the Rottensteiners have made wine for four generations, concentrating on the DOC of St Magdalen and its noble grape, the little-known Schiava. A light-bodied wine with a fragrant nose of cherry, raspberry, and pepper, Obermoser’s St. Magdalener shows that magical combination of so many Italian mountain reds: light body, intense flavors, and grippy tannins. In the summer, it can be perfect to chill; in the Fall, consider it for the Thanksgiving table. A complex wine, it shows red cherry, cranberry, and raspberry fruit, with roses and a bitter citrus bite with ruby grapefruit notes, savory, peppery undermovement, and a smoky element on the finish with just a touch of tar. High in acid, with a register of flavors from zingy to weighty, it will make you want more Südtirol reds.
Pairing: Pair it with spaghetti Bolognese, braised duck breast, or eggplant Parmesan.
REGION: Santa Magdalena, Alto Adige, ITALY