Life changing whites

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Terlano sets the bar high in the Italian Dolomites

In Italy, “wine cooperative” can be a pejorative, synonymous with grape-buying collectives that produce oceans of basic wine destined for supermarkets.

Northeastern Italy’s Alto Adige is an exception, known for co-ops that produce wines as good as those from top independent winemakers. Here, on the edge of the Dolomites, just six miles northwest of the regional capital, Bolzano, Cantina Terlano produces some of Italy’s most prized—and most historic—white wines.

How good? Since it began exporting its wines in the mid-1990s, this cooperative has released 73 wines that scored 90 points or higher in Wine Spectator's blind tastings. Something special seems to happen to white grapes—particularly Pinot Bianco—grown in the quartz-rich volcanic soils (known as red porphyry) at up to 3,000 feet in the hills above sleepy Terlano (pop. 4,200).

“It’s a different culture here,” says enologist Klaus Gasser, 48, who has been the winery’s public face for 20 years. He is maneuvering a four-wheel-drive up steep, narrow roads flanked by terraced vineyards and tidy, white stucco Tyrolean farmhouses. “It’s a little bit more organized. It’s the German spirit of taking care of the land.”

Indeed, the Alto Adige, or South Tyrol, was annexed by Italy from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918....read the full blog at winespectator.com