Italians Make Sense of Pinot Noir

You may have noticed a new wine in our catalog, from Italian producer Elena Walch. The wine is made of Pinot Nero, the Italian expression of Pinot Noir. We put together a pack of Pinot Noir wines from Burgundy, Sancerre and Alto Adige in Italy. It sold out incredibly quickly, and from the article below it appears as though it was well received. Here is a great write-up on the “Ludwig” from Emile Joubert at

No matter how long it turns out to be, life will always be too short to understand Italian wines. The 2000-plus grape varieties, regions, sub-regions, villages, communes and city boundaries that constitute the nation’s vinous character make the divisions of Burgundy and Bordeaux look like kid’s stuff.

My Italian discoveries are thus largely limited to the kind advice of strangers, though there is the permanent love for the rich, velvety monsters that are Amarone, a wine that seduced me during a summer at Lake Garda. The taste still lingers.

I recently bought a happy packet of Pinot Noir from Great Domaines, a wine purveyor whose recommendations I rate highly. The box contained two Pinots each from Burgundy, Sancerre and, well, Italy. From the Alto Adige region up north, also known as the South Tyrol where the bloodline of the frenetic Italian locals has been called to order by Germanic strains from bordering Austria.

It is a great region, Bolzano being the capital. The nearby Dolomite mountains scrape the heavens, the air is crisp and sharp as the stiletto of a jealous lover and the soils are ancient beds of gravel, broken mountain and granite shards ripped from their beds by glaciers, all those years ago.

The Alto Adige’s Gewürztraminers and Pinot Grigios have always been world-beaters, the former bearing the name of the local town of Tramin. But after getting to grips with it, Alto Adige Pinot Noir is definitely on my list of Italian to-do’s along with learning to prepare vitello tonnato and to wolf-whistle at bella donna’s in a manner that is deemed cool, Latin and acceptable.

With a name like Ludwig from a winery called Elena Walch I expected this Pinot Noir to come goose-stepping out of the glass before gruffly blurting orders for a bratwürst, a Herero call-girl and an Angela Merkel lapel-pin. Not to be.

Elena Walch, one of Alto Adige’s spectacular producers, makes a Pinot Noir that will cause a Burgundian Duke to relieve himself in a Grand Gru vineyard.

With a line of ancient limestone in those soils, Elena’s Pinot Noir 2012 has a balanced, integrated vivaciousness that keeps us Pinot Noir lovers saddling up our steeds in search of the Holy Grail. It is a wine with personality, style and humanity.

Sure, I could haul out enough adjectives to bring tears to the eyes of the most infatuated wine wanker: Burnt sagebrush and the flesh of black pigs at the onset of the curing process; mulberries and blackcurrants, crushed by the scrubbed, soft heels of Milanese nymphs lying on a pile of maturing porcini mushrooms; the blood spurting from the freshly-slit throat of a hummingbird that had sucked the nectar from a dense wall of jasmine.

Yes, this Pinot Noir obviously exudes the tastes of the above. But these are the mere foundations, simple things. More than that is the character of the wine, its balance, the way it coaxes the senses and tugs at the cerebral synapses. Talking to you and making you think of dead kings, a glacial valley and things that one will always have, and those you might lose.

This is wine.

Emile Joubert,

Read the full article HERE