Franz Gojer Vernatsch Alte Reben 2020

Franz Gojer Vernatsch Alte Reben 2020

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Franz Gojer is part of the other gang of four. Not the guys in Beaujolais, but the group of growers and winemakers in the breathtaking (as in it's literally hard to breathe at times) vineyards in the mountainous Alto Adige region. Like the guys in Beaujolais, Gojer and his cohort took a stand against conventional farming and bulk winemaking, favoring a more natural approach in the vines and in the cellar. Franz and his son Florian work out of their winery, named Glögglhof, producing finessed, pure mountain wines.

'Alte Reben' means old vines in German - keep in mind most folks speak German in this area - and the vines used in this bottling have an average age of at least 40 years, something rare in this region where the life expectancy of vines is usually around 20 years. Vernatsch, the local name for Schiava in Italy or Trollinger in Germany, is a thin skinned, light red variety, uniquely well adapted to these high elevation, amphitheater vineyards cut into the sides of the Dolomites. Hand harvesting is a must, as the vineyards are far too steep for machines to be used. The grapes are gently crushed and undergo a 10 day maceration in stainless steel, and a short 7 month aging in tank to preserve the youthful energy and freshness this grape so wonderfully captures.  

Vernatsch/Schiava is probably best compared to Plousard from the Jura, Pelaverga from Piedmont, or Frappato from Sicily. All relatively obscure grape varieties, but all with a common link - extremely light in color, high in acid, a little floral and always great with a slight chill. This wine is perfect for the hot weather coming in, but when you still want something red. Lithe cherry fruit, met by equally energetic acidity make for a refreshing, cooling light red. The mouthwatering finish, packed with pomegranate and alpine herbs, keeps you coming back for more. It's pretty damn good.

[Kirk Sutherland, July 2021]

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