30 Second Wine Advisor: Vernatsch, natch!
Today's Sponsor:
 Maison de la France and Wines of France
Win 1 of 4 trips to France! Pick your wine tour deal to France; enjoy free in-store tastings in selected US cities!

Next week's editions
I'll be traveling in France next week, so the 30 Second Wine Advisor's Wednesday and Friday editions and Thursday FoodLetter will take a little time off. We'll publish on Monday only next week, and return to regular publication the week of June 13.

In This Issue
 Vernatsch, natch! Back on the offbeaten path again with a rare grape from Italy's German-speaking Alps.
 Galea 2003 Südtiroler Vernatsch Alto Adige Schiava ($8.99) A fresh, fruity red from Alto Adige.
 Maison de la France and Wines of France Win 1 of 4 trips to France! Pick your wine tour deal to France; enjoy free in-store tastings in selected US cities!
Administrivia Change E-mail address, frequency, format or unsubscribe.

 Learn about our RSS Feed

Vernatsch, natch!

Those of us who enjoy playing with words almost as much as tasting wine will get a special kick out of today's featured grape and wine, an obscure variety from the Südtirol (South Tyrol) in the Alto Adige region of far Northern Italy's Alps.

Say hello to Vernatsch, a black-skinned grape that's all but unique to this region, and one whose name depends very much on whom you ask. German-speaking South Tyrolese call it Vernatsch, but the region's Italian speakers say Schiava, a word that means "slave" and may go back to the same roots as "Slavic," perhaps hinting at its origin. When the grape is transplanted in Germany - where it's unusually popular around Württemberg, for reasons lost in the mists of the 14th century - the locals call it Trollinger, which is most likely a slurred evolution of, well, "Tyrolinger" or "something that comes from Tyrol." To make matters even more interesting, this same variety is widely grown as a table grape, in which guise it's called Black Hamburg in English.

If you think you've picked up on a soundalike resemblance with the various types of Vernaccia grown in Tuscany, Sardinia and other parts of Italy, you've got a good ear; but the grapes aren't actually close kin. That name simply means "local," stemming from an ancient root word that's also the linguistic grandparent of the English "vernacular" or local speech.

That's about as much word lore as a wine article ought to have, but I was intrigued by Vernatsch's many names, and I hope you were, too.

Today's featured Vernatsch-Schiava (the bottle bears both names) is interesting enough, although most wine books dismiss the variety as beneath much notice. The usually reliable Jancis Robinson declares Vernatsch and Schiava both "undistinguished," and sends Trollinger scuttling on its way with the judgement "distinctly ordinary." But this bottling (which features a cute label with a bunch of cartoonish grapes all wearing little Tyrolean hats, not that I'd buy a wine for its label, of course) struck me as well above the ordinary, particularly given its low-end price.

Made by the very Germanic Tyrolese winery Kellerei Nals & Margreid and sold under the proprietary name "Galea," with "Südtiroler Vernatsch" on the front label and "Alto Adige Schiava" on the reverse, it offers good red-berry aromas and a nice mix of red fruit, white pepper and stony minerality on the palate, coming across a bit reminiscent of a Beaujolais on the nose but more like a fresh Loire red on the palate. Not bad for a dollar under 10 bucks!

Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on today's topic (or any other wine-related subject), you'll find a round-table online discussion in our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where you're always welcome to join in the conversations about wine.

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at wine@wineloverspage.com. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Galea Galea 2003 Südtiroler Vernatsch Alto Adige Schiava ($8.99)

This is a clear, ruby-color wine, not overly dark in hue. Fresh red-berry aromas add a whiff of volatile acidity, somewhat reminiscent of Beaujolais. In the mouth, though, it's more complex and interesting than any but the best of Beaujolais: Light-bodied and fresh, tart red-fruit flavors mingle with intriguing accents of white pepper and wet-stone minerality, clean and consistent in a long finish. Those who enjoy reds in the crisp, minerally style will enjoy this wine, but blockbuster-chasers need not apply. U.S. importer: The Country Vintner, Oilville, Va. (June 2, 2005)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with ribeye steaks, pepper-crusted and medium rare.

VALUE: We may have its regional and varietal unfamiliarity to thank for a bargain-basement price. Excellent value.

WHEN TO DRINK: Who knows? Having no cellaring experience (and little tasting experience) of this wine, I'm reluctant to pontificate, but the conventional wisdom holds that this variety should be drunk young, and that fits my perception of its light, crisp style.

Vernatsch = "Ver-notch"
Schiava = "Skee-ah-vah"
Alto Adige = "Ahl-toe Ah-dee-jay"

Kellerei Nals & Margreid offers its Website in Italian, German and English at
For information in English on the Vernatsch, click

Search the Wine-Searcher.com databases for Galea Vernatsch:

Maison de la France and Wines of France
Maison de la France and Wines of France

Click Here & Spring Over to France with Maison de la France and Wines of France!

This is your chance to win one of four trips to the Rhone-Alps or Provence regions with Air France!

Experience French Wine in the US!
- Enjoy free in-store wine tastings in your area
- Meet Sheri Sauter, Master of Wine and new spokesperson for Wines of France.
- Discover Sheri's Top 40 French wine picks - Choose Yours!™

Planning your trip to France? Put the wine country in your itinerary!
- Pick your wine tour deals to France!
- Learn the latest news from the French Vineyards
- Explore the French Vineyards


 WineLoversPage.com RSS Feed (free) XML
 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition, alternate Tuesdays ($24/year)

For all past editions, click here

E-mail: wine@wineloverspage.com

For information, E-mail wine@wineloverspage.com


To subscribe or unsubscribe from The 30 Second Wine Advisor, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at wine@wineloverspage.com, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.

We do not use our E-mail list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail address to anyone. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. To contact me, please send E-mail to wine@wineloverspage.com

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Friday, June 3, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to the 30 Second Wine Advisor

Wine Advisor archives