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Italy’s Amazing Grapes — and the $30 White Wine You Should Be Drinking

This Alois Lageder Has Staying Power

BY // 10.12.18

Italy is home to a stupendous number of grape varieties. According to Native Wine Grapes of Italy, Ian D’Agata’s illuminating and comprehensive tome on the country’s uva universe, Italy cultivates more than 2,000 different native grapes, of which a little fewer than 400 are used to make wine in any appreciable commercial volume.

That’s a panoply of grapes that totals more than the native varieties of Greece, Spain and France combined.

That said, the Italian wine landscape clearly contains multitudes of complexity and difference, ensuring that one should never grow bored of sampling the country’s offerings. I recently shared a great bottle with friends that I’ll be adding to my inventory: the 2016 Fórra Bianco Dolomiti IGT from Alois Lageder. It’s a terroir-driven beauty made entirely from Manzoni Bianco grown in the Lageder family’s Paradeis vineyard (and they are farmed biodynamically under Demeter certification).

From Alto Adige, with love: The wines of Alois Lageder are terroir-driven wonders. (Courtesy Alois Lageder)

I am a fan of Alois Lageder wines, and drink them as often as I can. Alois Clemens Lageder, the sixth-generation owner, is an Alto Adige treasure, and I’ve never had anything bad from the label. The Fórra Bianco continues that record. Manzoni Bianco is a cross between Pinot Bianco and Riesling, and the result here is a crisp and dry (bracingly so) wine that possesses a minerality I adore. It’s a structured wine, as well, and the seriousness of the winemaking shines.

Swirl a bit in the glass and you’ll be met with aromas of citrus and (slight) vanilla. On the palate, there’s a spiciness that’s intriguing, along with a fulsome body and flavors of pear. A perfect flinty finish (that wonderful minerality again) makes this wine an ideal partner for sautéed shrimp or crab, and I’m confident I would be happy to pair it with roast chicken.

The Fórra Bianco will cost you around $30, and alcohol comes in at 13 percent. At that price, this wine deserves to be purchased by the case and kept nearby. (I am cellaring a bottle that I plan to open in 2023, because I’m certain this one has staying power.)

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