2005 Riesling Montiggl St. Michael-Eppan

The winery cooperatives of Sudtirol (or Alto Adige, if you prefer Italian) are without a doubt the model for what coop cellars should be. They have intimate relationships with their growers, strongly reinforcing their need for the best from quality areas and being smart enough to produce inexpensive wines from lesser vineyards for cheap and cheerful local consumption. The surprise is just how good the top wines from these cooperatives can be, producing wines that rival even the smallest, quality-oriented independents.

St. Michael-Eppan (San Michele-Appiano) is probably most famous for their “Sanct Valentin” line, especially the Sauvignon and Gewurztraminer, both perennial high-scorers and prize-winners.

Last night I had the pleasure of having a lovely smoked salmon tasting plate at Jolanda DeColo’s Bistro in the center of Udine. After consulting with the very helpful waitress present she brought us a bottle of the 2005 Montiggl Riesling.

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While not particularly old, I consider 2005 just under the limit for Old White Wine.com…

We were all impressed with the nose on this wine, showing tertiary characteristics of slate and a hint of Riesling diesel with a distinct saline character as well. On the palate there wasn’t tons of stuffing and body, but the raciness and minerality were all there. This is quite typical of wines grown on the granite-based soils in Sudtirol. The lack of calcium doesn’t give the same depth and weight to whites like Friuli does. What it DOES do is give rise to great aromatics and remarkable stoniness. There was a sweet element on the finish that reminded me of caramel and/or vanilla, and after that subsided I was left with clean mineral backbone. It was the perfect compliment to the salmon tasting.

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