Teroldego is considered the king of Trentino wines. Legend has it that the name itself derives from Tiroler Gold, the gold from Tyrol, which is how this wine was referred to at court in Vienna. However, it more likely takes its name from its traditional method of cultivation, in which it is trained on a system of “tirelle” or wire harnesses. Recent DNA analysis has revealed that it is related to the French varietals Dureza and Syrah. Some authorities compare Teroldego to Zinfandel, with its spicy red fruits, but this is not accurate. Its acidity and snap makes it a versatile food wine. This is one of my Top 10 Undiscovered Wines of Northeastern Italy, a list of my favorite wines we enjoy on our bike, hike and ski adventures, but are virtually unknown outside the regions we explore.
Teroldego flourishes only in the Piana Rotaliana area, and, in spite of many efforts to reproduce the vineyards, environment, and irrigation in other regions, no one has successfully replicated these high quality wines anywhere else. For many years, it was used exclusively as a blending wine, mixed with sub-standard grapes to produce a only somewhat drinkable wine. Eventually, the producers realized the benefits of eliminating the inferior grapes and producing a high quality single varietal wine, and we are just beginning to see some of the benefits of this decision. Teroldego wines are quite distinctive, with intense fruit, full body, and a strong, dry taste.
Elisabetta Foradori took over her family estate in 1985. Her families’ vineyards lie in the side valley of Campo Rotaliano. Elisabetta has garnered quite a reputation as one of the premier producers of Teroldego, which has greatly helped expand the interest in this indigenous varietal. Here, the vines are farmed organically, with older ‘heirloom’ plants that Elisbetta, in conjunction with the department of viticulture at the University of Milan, was responsible for identifying and propagating.
I tasted the Teroldego Rotaliano 2008, which is the lower level bottling of Foradori Teroldegos, and is produced from a combination of estate as well as purchased grapes, 100% Teroldego. It is barrel aged for 20 months, and is made for earlier consumption. This Foradori Teroldego is a great introduction to this varietal, displaying dark fruit and sweet cherry with a bit of spice and floral notes, along with chocolate and herbs. Similar in style to a Syrah, it has a robust, full bodied palate, with a nice balance of tannins and acidity. A wonderful companion to a hearty pork dish, or a flavorful vegetable such as radicchio.