Oddball Wine of the Week: Lagrein

This is the first post of a new series I’m starting on oddball wines. I thought I’d start in Italy, which is full of indigenous grape varieties that are produced in a small region and hardly anywhere else. This is one of those: Lagrein. Have you ever had one? Ever heard of it?

LaVis_Lagrein_LabelshotLa Vis Dipinti Lagrein 2007

Producer: La Vis

Grapes: Lagrein. La-what? It’s a red grape variety from the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy that is related to Teroldego. It’s pronounced Lah-GRAYN (hear it here).

Appellation: DOC Trentino, in northeastern Italy up near the Austrian border. Thirty years ago, red wines accounted for 80% of Trentino’s vineyard land, but today it’s down to 40%, with Merlot being the most common red grape (Chardonnay is the most planted white). However, the indigenous grapes are hanging on. [Info from The World Atlas of Wine.]

Winemaking: Spends only 2 months in oak.

Alcohol: 12.5%

Price: $11.77 at Spec’s in Austin

My tasting notes: Dark color, though not opaque. I get dusty plum and cherry fruit on the nose, with a substantial Old World swampy/barnyardy stink. There’s something a bit wild to the fruit aromas, too. Interesting. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and starts off sharp and angular (though not necessarily in a bad way), with under-ripe raspberry flavors, light minerality and grippy tannins. A cranberry tartness and prickly acidity linger on the finish. I came back to this wine after it was open for about 48 hours and it was drinking very nicely. The acidity and tannins had softened a bit and the fruit was more evident on the palate. It paired well with a sausage, kale and white bean soup.

Overall impression: Not straight-up delicious, but really interesting and food-friendly. Worth it just for the geek-cred you’ll earn for trying this uncommon grape variety. B

Free association:

Demoiselles d'Avignon - Pablo Picasso

Demoiselles d'Avignon - Pablo Picasso

More info:

Tech sheet, which doesn’t state the vintage, so assume the specs are approximate.

Gary Vaynerchuk did a WLTV episode on Lagrein wines (though not this bottle).

Apparently, outside of Trentino-Alto Adige, Lagrein has developed a small foothold in Australia. And there is also an Oregon winery (with an Aussie winemaker), Amaranth Ridge, that is growing some. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

Another blogger’s review at Melodic Fermentables.

5 comments to Oddball Wine of the Week: Lagrein

  • Yes, I’ve had a Lagrein…exactly one. It was interesting; made by monks. It wasn’t rocking my world or anything, but it was a tasty wine that went great with food. I imagine that you’re on the same kick that I’m on…trying all sorts of weird grapes. It helps when you have two awesome wine shops that direct import a ton of cool, random, stuff–Wine Expo and K&L.

    http://www.vivalawino.com/2009/04/2007-convento-muri-gries-lagrein.html

  • admin

    Yes, I’m on an oddball kick (but I kind of always am, really). I went to Spec’s and asked the guy for the most unusual wines he could recommend. Stay tuned for others…

  • admin

    By the way, for my Austin readers, the guy at Spec’s I’m referring to in the comment above is Jim Cubberley at the 290/Brodie location (4970 Hwy 290 West). If you shop that store and want some recommendations, he’s the guy to ask.

  • not sure if you got my earlier comment, but I just wanted to reiterate that I LOVE the organization of your blog – I appreciate the flow of the info and the categorization you provide.

  • admin

    Thanks very much – I’m glad you like it. As a researcher by profession, this is the way my brain works.

    And thanks for adding me to your blogroll.

    (I did not get your earlier comment.)

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