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Lagrein, an Unusual Wine Grape to Discover

Lagrein Grape Variety

Lagrein Grape Variety

While I enjoy well-made, traditional wines, I find it fascinating to discover more unusual wines. Lagrein is a red grape variety believed to be indigenous to Italy.

Typically the grapes are grown in a northern area of Italy known as Alto Adige.  About 450 hectares (1120 acres)  are now filled with Lagrein. However due to its nature the Lagrein grapevines do better on the warmer lower levels of the hills where they can fully ripen.

Numerous sources note that the Lagrein variety is related to Syrah and Teroldego. The Lagrein grape is often produced as a red wine but may also be a rosé.

It has been suggested  that Lagrein is a result of a cross between Teroldego and Schiava Gentile; although, according to Jancis Robinson’s, Wine Grapes, this theory has not been verified.

Although Lagrein production is small compared to Cabernet Sauvignon and other big reds, Lagrein can be found produced in Italy’s Alto Adige, California and Australia. It does appear that winemakers are becoming more interested in Lagrein. During our travels to wineries we have also discovered the grapevines on Long Island and in the Finger Lakes of New York.

While visiting Long Island wineries in 2013, we tasted and wrote about a Lagrein wine, “The Channing Daughters 2010 Lagrein was made of Lagrein and was a dark ruby to black color. The aroma was floral with dark fruit. The taste reminded one of flowers, dark fruits and minerals. Bold tannins were on the finish.”

Across the country in Temecula, California at Robert Renozi Vineyards winery we also had a wine produced with a blend of  Lagrein and Merlot. “Vecchio Frate “Old Friar” 2007 was a blend of Lagrein and Merlot. The color was a deep purple. The aroma had black fruit and cocoa notes. The taste had spices and there were bold tannins on the finish.” At this time the wine has sold out.

Red Tail Ridge, a boutique winery in the Finger Lakes region, is growing Lagrein. According to the Red Tail Ridge website, “This grape can produce robust, big bodied wines with obvious tannins, low pH and relatively high acidity. Descriptors include plumy, earthy, chewy and mineral. It is a descendant of Teroldego, and related to Syrah, Pinot and Dureza.”

During your travels to wineries look for Lagrein wines. Of course, keep your eye out for the future production of  Lagrein wines at Red Tail Ridge Winery.

Suggested pairings with Lagrein include aged cheese, game, stews and risotto.


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