Teroldego is a wine that everyone likes. It comes from a red grape grown practically only in Trentino. The bond with the territory is very strong: we are talking about a very small area, where the perfect conditions for the grape variety are created. Here are the characteristics of Teroldego, in 10 things-to-know about grapes and wine.
Teroldego has been mentioned in sources since the 14th century and could not be missing from our January selection, dedicated to Trentino reds. Here is a brief history of it, in 10 simple points.
1. History of Teroldego
There are various theories as to the origin of Teroldego (it may have arrived in Trentino from Valpolicella or from the Tyrol), but for the moment what is certain is that it has found its chosen territory in the Piana Rotaliana (or Campo Rotaliano) for some millennia.
2. Genetics of Teroldego
Teroldego has kinship links with various other grape varieties, due to both spontaneous crosses and human action.
The genealogy of Teroldego is complex and not yet fully clarified. From studies of its DNA, however, we know that it is related to Lagrein, Marzemino, Syrah and most probably also to Pinot Noir.
Furthermore, it was used by Rebo Rigotti in the cross with Merlot that gave rise to Rebo.
3. The 'flagship' vine of Trentino
Teroldego is the most important black grape variety in Trentino. It ripens between mid-September and early October and is grown using the classic Trentino pergola.
4. The Teroldego habitat
Teroldego only gives excellent results in the Piana Rotaliana: a handkerchief of plain surrounded by the Dolomites. Perfect conditions are created here: the rocky walls of the mountains protect the vines from the cold northerly winds, while they accumulate heat that they release onto the vines. The breezes that descend from the Val di Non, on the other hand, dry the plants, keeping the vegetation healthy.
5. Teroldego's favourite soils
It loves soils that are well drained and rich in minerals: in the Piana the soil is made up of limestone, granite and porphyritic stones brought downstream by the Noce river.
6. The Teroldego territory
Of the Piana Rotaliana Mario Soldati writes: "Here are all the vineyards of Teròldego. Here, in the ancient villages of Mezzocorona and Mezzolombardo, are still the old cellars where this sublime wine is made". A wine that has 'a distinctive flavour, recognisable among a thousand'.
Speaking of the Piana Rotaliana, Luigi Veronelli says: "It seemed impossible to me that a plain could produce the wines I tasted. So composed. With their scents of almond, violet and raspberry they had flooded me and made me prisoner. Forty years. And of Teroldego I am still a prisoner today'.
7. A micro-story on the genetics of Teroldego
Native grape varieties cultivated in small areas, as is the case with Teroldego, tend to have low phenotypic (i.e. genetic) variability. Due to its productivity, then, selections made on the Teroldego especially in the 1960s had resulted in a genetic 'simplification' of the variety. All this had reduced Teroldego to a few clones, the most productive ones. But over the past few decades, vine growers have increasingly focused on quality, with new selections and research, as well as the rediscovery of older vines.
8. Teroldego Rotaliano, DOC since 1971
In order for the wine to claim DOC status, the Teroldego grape - in purity - must be grown in a specific part of the Piana Rotaliana: in Mezzolombardo, Mezzocorona or in Grumo (a hamlet of San Michele all'Adige). We are talking about a hundred hectares.
9. Red or Rosé?
A rather productive vine, Teroldego vinified red gives a wine with an intense fruity, spicy aroma; in the mouth it is full-bodied, warm, dry, with a pleasant, slightly bitter note.
Of the rosé version, Mario Soldati leaves a memorable description: 'And there is another Teròldego quality. Not better, but, in my opinion, even more refined. Let's be clear: these are the same grapes, still from the pure Teròldego variety: the processing is different. They are vinified 'in bianco'. Immediately upon pressing, the must is separated from the skins, and forever. Out of it comes that delicious Teròldego Rosé, which is one of the few authentic rosés I know: and I include in my memory all the French rosés I have tasted. It has, after all, the same flavour as the Teròldego Granato: but more velvety, lighter, more 'irresistible': above all, with more perfume'.
10. How to pair Teroldego
When young it goes very well with meat-based first courses, while when aged it is perfect with soups or main courses such as game or roasts. It also deserves a mention when paired with Teroldego risotto.