Niklas at St. Nikolaus around Lake Caldaro
IN SHORT: a micro-producer in Alto-Adige whose vines are terraced on cliffs cliffs that climb from the Alpiine lake of Caldaro. Delicious, easy-drinking native reds Lagrein and Schiava, with real seriousness left for the long-aging white wines. Dieter's wines always have that classic Alto-Adige minerality, but also a rich complex structure (longer maceration on skins but not orange, lees stirring, and careful picking of grapes while he balances rs and high acidity); not only refreshing wines, but deeply comforting too. 5 hectares; 3750 cases; no chemicals or pesticides; Bordeaux mixture.
The Alto-Adige, or Süd Tyrol, is the Northern sub-region within Trentino-Alto Adige. It's not only that the people here speak a dialect of German that makes this sub-region stand out, the whole feel of the place is quite different from the rest of Italy, from its culture and festivals, to its regional food and wine.
Dieter is a graduate of the famous enological school of San Michele, and has taken the reigns of the small family winery (4.5 hectares), located at the base of Lake Caldaro (see picture). Even though almost all of the wine grown in the Alto Adige is above sea level (thus wines with good acidity and freshness), Lake Caldaro marks the beginning of the Alto Adige sub-region, with its warm, by Alpine standards, micro-climate. During the summer, the lake reaches the 80's Fahrenheit; it's quit the spot to have a swim, followed by a picnic made up of a bottle of Lagrein and some Speck.
Niklas produces the native Pinot Bianco (oh so much more interesting than Pinot Grigio!); a certain richness with the acidity; lots of apple without the skin (more of a dilineated than edgy tartness).
And -- let's it be proclained -- that Pinot Bianco is one serious grape in this area. We've tasted back vintages and it ages quite well. Dieter has banked on Pinot Bianco for years; I hope you will too, at least once.
For something really different, try the Riesling-like, Kerner, a cross of the Schiava and Riesling grape. Apricot and peach make a delicate, refined nose. The Sauvignon here is grown from planting from one of the more famous Sauvignon producers in Styria; minerally and green pepper but also fruit that has tropical notes.
For reds, the Schiava, is a native classic; you'll find it in the hand of everyone during the summer. It has a cherry / strawberry nose and it's light in body; use it where you would a rosato.
Distribution: NY, NJ, PA.