I was once lucky enough to be driven to Heathrow airport by a company chauffeur. Before you get too excited by visions of Roger Moore, mini bars and free champagne, all I got was my suitcase put in the boot for me and a free bottle of mineral water. We got talking about travel and I asked the driver what was the best place he’d ever been to. He said without much hesitation that it would have to be the ‘Dolomites’ in northern Italy. I also love mountains, albeit I only tread where a rope is not required to get there, so made a mental note at the time to look them up. On doing so I could easily see his reasoning. Forming as they do a part of the Southern Limestone Alps these are truly breathtaking peaks. They take their name from the carbonate rock ‘dolomite’ that they are formed from and are also known as the ‘pale mountains’ on account of the rocks light grey colour.
So, having been inspired to put together a selection of ‘Alpine Wines’ for a tasting with friends by the recent edition of The Wine Society’s magazine ‘1874’, I was pleased to spot a wine that I had not heard of that emanates from the shadow of these lofty peaks. Castel Firmian Mezzacorona, Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva 2015 ( yes I know , bit of a mouthful!!) Of the three reds included in the tasting it was by far the favourite and especially when I tell you the price.
Teroldego is an old variety and records indicate wines being made from it as far back as the 15th century. It is considered the finest red grape of the Trentino region and produces very deeply pigmented wines with intense fruit and a spicy aroma. They are very soft on the palate and need little ageing with most usually drunk within 3 years of bottling. On account of the deep pigment a small amount of Teroldego is grown in Tuscany, Sicily and the Veneto for use as a blending component. Related to the Syrah grape, wines made from Teroldego are also often compared to Zinfandel. On taste I can see where this comes from but I also agree with the general view that it has higher acidity than Zinfandel. Like many Italian red wines this balancing acidity makes it a versatile food wine.
Castel Firmian Mezzacorona, Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva is a real find and I completely agree with Sarah Knowles MW who described it as a ‘knockout’ for the price. For £9.95 you get a remarkably concentrated and fruity red. Oodles of bramble, blackcurrant, cherry and prune are joined by a very Rioja like creamy vanilla from the 12 months in large barrels. It has smooth tannin and pleasing acidity. This would be totally delicious alongside a traditional beef Lasagne. Highly recommended.