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I drink when I have occasion, and sometimes when I have no occasion
Miguel de Cervantes (1547 - 1616)
Year 6 | Thursday 21 September 2017

Around the Boot in 80 Wines – Nosiola

20 June 2015


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Welcome back to our travels. We left Lombardy in great style with a wonderful Moscato di Scanzo and a cheese worthy to be paired with such a wine, Formaggio de Mut dell'Alta Valle Brembana, but now it is time for a new region, one of Italy's 5 autonomous regions, that is in fact made up of two provinces which are very distinctive, Trentino-Alto Adige. Although in the past, the region was very poor, it is now one of the wealthiest and most developed not only in Italy, but also in the whole of the European Union.

Like one of the other autonomous regions, Valle d'Aosta, Trentino-Alto Adige is an extremely mountainous region, containing part of the Dolomites and the southern Alps. As can be expected from this type of terrain, the food is hearty fare, which a great focus on cheeses, meats, butter and bread. The wines are of an excellent quality, with the area producing some great aromatic whites as well as some exceptional reds which are particularly suited to the area and climate.

The first wine to be discovered on our journey is made from one of the most widespread white grapes in the province of Trentino, Nosiola. It is a grape of unknown origin; it has been part of Trentino history since the time of the Concilio di Trento (Council of Trent) in the mid 1500s.

Different interpretations have been given with regards to the name. Studies in the 1700s talked about a grape "with a white eye" from which the dialect word "Ociolet" derived, and then through other phonetic contamination, we arrived at the names ciaret or nosiolet. Another supposition is that the grapes of this variety are grown in mild areas, often surrounded by plants that prefer these climates, including the hazel, which gives rise to other interpretations: the first plays on the color that the Nosiola grapes take when they reach maturity which recalls the colour of wild hazelnuts; the other belief is that it is typical of the wine to offer intense aromas of toasted hazelnuts.

What is unique is how the grape variety varies: in the valley of the Laghi (Lakes), the grape and wine are defined as female while in Lavis and in Vallagarina, they have a distinctive masculine character. It was Di Rovasenda in 1877 who indentified the difference between Durel or Durella and the Trentino Nusiola, which many scholars had considered synonyms of the same grape variety.

The chosen birthplace of the grape is the Valley of the Laghi, although it is also present in the area of Lavis, in Vallagarina and the Sarca valley. It is also spread sporadically even in areas of the Lombard and Veneto part of Lake Garda. It is used in purity in the Doc Nosiola Trentino and in the Vino Santo Trentino and it is also used with other grapes in Doc Garda Orientale, Valdadige and Sorni.

The Nosiola grape gives rise to a great white wine which has been produced by grapes that draw from the rugged alpine climate some of the most important characteristics that distinguish them. These grapes are the oldest whites in the region and they are the only ones which, over time, have survived natural disasters, world wars, and even phylloxera. It is a strong plant which produces a wine with gentle notes, the result of a harvest which is still carried out traditionally, without the use of mechanical means and waiting for the right moment, often near to that of red grapes, due to a late aging that distinguishes this variety. The grapes which are not destined to be used for the production of the famous Vino Santo are used to make Trentino Nosiola, which has become a real symbol of local wine-making traditions.

Observing a glass of nosiola, we can see bright shades of straw yellow with greenish tinges. Bringing it closer to the nose, it is possible to appreciate its bouquet, in particular a very delicate scent but once which reveals fresh and fruity notes that give some hint to the sensations found in the taste. In the mouth, in fact, it is crisp and dry with a slight bitter aftertaste, perfect for those looking for a wine unlike any other, and allows you to give your palate new and particular sensations.