Actually, this story was planned as a small wine buying list. Tasting and presenting four wines, plus a visit to the winery for more background knowledge. But the visit to Cantina Terlan, one of the most famous in South Tyrol, quickly turned into a wine adventure that poured me one impressive moment after another. Among other things, in one of the most magical places I have ever had the privilege to visit. (big thanks at this point to Michi from the Cantina) To taste there incidentally a sensational wine with a sensational view. But let’s briefly rewind to the planned tasting mission: a date with Sauvignon Blanc.
Worldwide importance and the second most important white quality variety after Chardonnay, this is how Sauvignon Blanc could be described factually. In some places it has become a trendy variety, but it has been native to South Tyrol for over 80 years. The fact that its wines can vary greatly simply because of the soils is vividly demonstrated by two prestigious wineries: Cantina Andrian and Cantina Terlan. Despite their physical proximity – both wineries are located in the South Tyrolean Etsch Valley, albeit on opposite sides of the valley – there are striking differences in the glass, different characters, but they share a DNA: Good-mood wines with an attractive dress code.
Lots of rock, but no Dwayne Johnson, still no problem. Framed by the concrete picture frame, you can see the porphyry quartz floor in the background, which gives the wine its flavor.
The winery itself is an architectural masterpiece, but one that elegantly blends into its surroundings. Underground, this elegance then continues – the entrance area, which gives a view of the rock on which the vines grow, is a real eye-catcher. A special feature of Terlan is the small parcelling of the vineyards, which allows for particularly targeted care. The very high percentage of steep slopes leads to more manual work, but is also the cornerstone of the great site potential of the winery. Kellerei means that a large number of winegrowers and winegrowers of the region deliver their harvested grapes here, from which the wines are then pressed. They work countless sites, even very small ones, thus taking advantage of the different areas. In return, the suppliers then share in the profit distribution. The Terlan Winery focuses on cultivating as many old, vital vineyards as possible, so that the site potential can be expressed in the best possible way in the wines. The conscious renunciation of herbicides and soil cultivation adapted to the location are only two of the key elements of near-natural cultivation.
The higher the ride up the switchbacks, the more pleasant the temperature becomes. While the warm air collects in the valley, it gets cooler on the windy slopes. That is why it is here that the vineyards are found. Even vines don’t find heat shock so cool. Climatically, the Middle Adige Valley, on whose steep south to southwest flanks the Terlan terroir is located, is particularly interesting. There is an exceptionally mild, sub-Mediterranean climate for this latitude. In the summer months, the sun really heats up during the day and at night the temperature is moderated by cool downdrafts from the surrounding mountains, creating large temperature differences between day and night. This alternation of cool nights and warm days is particularly favorable to viticulture. And we benefit from it.
On vehicle-wide, winding paths, where you instinctively hope that behind the next bend only no oncoming car appeared, it goes up to the location Lehenhof. Between two rustic stone buildings you step down a steep path to a clearing with bench, pergola and briefly one of the most fascinating flairs I’ve ever seen. Wine practice can be so awesome. Winegrower Felix Huber, who pursues his passion here, is already waiting for us. For the wine expert, the steepness, which commands our respect, is what makes the wines so special. The poorer the soil, the more difficult it is for the vine to grow there. It has to root deeper, make more effort to gather the nutrients it needs. So more power goes into fewer grapes, with a more intense result. The deeper the roots get, the closer they then get to the minerals. The steeper the site, the less topsoil is present, and the proportion of minerality increases. This is why steep sites are particularly interesting, because the terroir comes into its own just that little bit more. That’s what makes learning fun.
Still missing a rope plus swing, but was also so magical: the clearing in the location Lehenhof near Terlan.
As with real estate, the following also applies to viticulture: location, location, location. The Cantina Terlan vineyards on the steep flanks of the Tschöggelberg are located on the orographic left side of the valley at altitudes between 250 and 900 meters above sea level. Today, 75% white wines and 25% red wines are grown in Terlan. The great challenge with such different altitudes is the right choice of varieties. An immense advantage in Terlan: the valley sites are reserved for apples, only in the hill sites, where it becomes interesting for excellent wine, these are also cultivated. Between 250 and 400 meters grow red wines and white wines further up in the mountain sites from 400 and up to 900 meters is mainly the realm of white wines. The collected grapes then travel down into the valley to the cantina – then the hour of cellar master Rudi Kofler, the tactical fox behind the wines, strikes. He is the conductor who decides which harvests are blended and processed in which way, so that in the end the Terlan wines arrive on the shelves with their usual attractive quality.
Endless views into the Adige Valley. The colors, by the way, are so picturesque even without consuming wine.
Arbor, light wind, bench, regional wine: that’s all it takes to be happy.
The (drinking) fountain was a fitting place for the crisp, elegant Sauvignon Blanc Quartz from Cantina Terlan. Could one run steadily.
There are probably few places for a wine tasting that are so picturesque. Okay, the reception for the connection to the drone was always a hair’s breadth away from demolition, but you really can’t have everything. How the Sauvignon Quartz tastes exactly, I tell you below specifically to the individual four wines, but briefly: crisp structured like a tailor-made suit , but so whimsically fresh approachable, in short: a jump into a pool of mango, pink grapefruit, gooseberry and herb meadow and a pinch of saltiness. In short: first-class infatuation. Just like the tasting location. Keyword Sauvignon: Winemaker Felix Huber grows exactly this variety here on the steep slopes. As a consequence, he doesn’t need a gym membership; working in the vineyard is a complete workout, because he has to do most of the work without the help of machines. And there is work to be done all year round. Countless steps are necessary before the grapes even reach the quality state in which they can be harvested. Getting this understanding, this view behind the effort, this new awareness of all that goes into a bottle of wine, also makes one particularly humble in such a place. Who then echauffeiert with the wine, why that is not to be had then cheaper, has not understood wine. There is so much craftsmanship, commitment and passion here, and you can taste that in the end.
Provided a charming as well as impressive-casual setting for the tasting: the rustic old winery building in the middle of the vineyard.
Keyword down-to-earth. The terroir of the Terlan Winery, with its own distinctive character, is characterized by volcanic soils and the red rocks of quartz porphyry, as well as a very special microclimate. This is specifically a volcanic rock composed of various minerals such as quartz, alkali feldspar, light plagioclase and muscovite. Over the centuries, the Terlan vines have adapted to this particular terroir and the vines have developed their own distinctive character. Particularly in the case of the Sauvignon variety, Terlan has selected its own clones which enjoy great respect and recognition worldwide and which, like the Sauvignons from the neighboring winery Andrian on the opposite bank of the river, are going on my – and hopefully your – summer wine shopping list. Four of these exciting wines I present to you below.
One valley – two sides: four Sauvignon Blancs from the limestone and the volcano
Especially wine lovers who are looking forward to a style of Sauvignon Blanc that does not rely so much on the green notes of the variety, but more on a perfectly ripened fruit and depth, will find what they are looking for at Andrian as well as at Terlan, because both houses have always been able to make a name for themselves with their good white Sauvignons. But what makes the two valley sides so clearly different from each other? Besides the different orientations of the vineyards, it is above all their soils. In Andrian, where the proportion of Sauvignon Blanc has always been very high in the valuable sites, limestone soils interspersed with angular white dolomite rock characterize the distinctive variety. Here it produces wines with a cooler, elegant style and brilliant fruit. On the Terlano side of the valley, on the other hand, the volcanic origin is also stylistic for Sauvignon Blanc. The red-colored quartz porphyry soils create a unique characteristic with high mineral density, aromatic depth of flavor and tension on the palate. In this way, the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety produces two styles in one valley.
Refreshing like a jump into the elegant bipool: the two wines from Cantina Andrian.
Sauvignon Floreado | Cantina Andrian
The Sauvignon Floreado perfectly embodies the fine, slightly floral expression of a Sauvignon Blanc typical of Andrian. It inspires with intense fruit, balanced acidity and appears self-confident without playing hard to get. With intense aromas of yellow fruits and nuances of elderflower, gooseberry and ripe tropical fruit, combined with a big pot of hay-herbal tea, this white wine sends the best flirt signals for a relaxed treat on terrace , picnic or who has one nearby: at the pool. A very typical Sauvignon that remains beautifully present on the palate and does not immediately evaporate in the very best sense. Sauvignon Floreado, price: about 13.50 euros, about superiore.de
Sauvignon Andrius | Cantina Andrian
The Sauvignon Andrius is like a fitted summer suit: mixes fabric with class but an essential pinch of lightness. Six months of aging on the fine lees, 20% of which in tonneau, provide spiciness, powerful structure that maintains tension with every sip, pithy bite as well as a juicy and harmonious acidity, all marked with swag marked by the limestone soil. You just get to show where you come from. Apricot, gooseberry, peach and elderberry aromas, honeydew melon and mint paint the aroma and flavor picture, a big brush of spiciness at the back provides seduction and best of all, unlike an unsatisfying aroma, this wine keeps its promise glass after glass for a very long time. An approachable gentleman. Sauvignon Andrius, price: around 27 euros, about via superiore.de
As refreshingly light as they are elegant: the Sauvignon Blancs from Cantina Terlan offer a pool of summery aromas. This one, by the way, belongs to the Plattenhof in Tramin.
Sauvignon Winkl | Cantina Terlan
Nobody likes spoilers, but I’ll say it up front: This thing is a blockbuster, fun thrilling like House of Money, not as complex as Dark but charmingly entertaining like Lupin. Need I say more? Because anything but ordinary is the fruit-intensive Sauvignon Winkl, which has been consistently vinified the same way since 1956. In the Terlan D.O.C. area, around the oldest estates, the grapes thrive under strict guidelines. The perfect combination of sun-drenched exposure and volcanic rock give the little brother of Sauvignon Quartz an aromatic depth of flavor that jumps into a swimming pool filled with apricot, passion fruit and elderflower with a swimsuit of delicately fresh acidity. Crisp, flirty, casual, sophisticated, in short: awesome. Sauvignon Winkl, price: around 19 euros, about via hawesko.de
Sauvignon Quarz | Cantina Terlan
“The fine texture and pronounced depth are a real trademark of the Quartz, but also its mineral reverberation. This has meanwhile given this noble white wine a high international reputation”: This is how Terlan Winery’s cellar master Rudi Kofler describes this flagship Sauvignon. Indeed, not a year goes by in which the Quartz is not honored by renowned wine guides as one of the best white wines. It owes this to the particular structure of the quartz porphyry soils, which not only give the wine its name, but are also responsible for its mineral density. Quartz is a sophisticated terroir wine that brings out its characteristics even more clearly through 9 months of aging on the fine lees – partly in wooden barrels, partly in stainless steel tanks. “Suits” meets “007” here. The straw-yellow script is filled with exotic aromas of mango and pink grapefruit, some twists with fresh herbal aromas, plus a pleasant saltiness, as if you were biting into a fresh, fluffy ciabatta with coarse salt. All combined with a dose of nonchalance and charm served ice cold. Sauvignon Quartz, price: around 48 euros, about via superiore.de
With the pictures I have directly the feeling to be again on site in the pool. And that is exactly what characterizes all the wines: Elegant lightness, desire for more than one glass, refreshing indulgence and the connection with memories.
Now it’s off to the treasure chambers of the Cantina Terlan. The guided tour down into the winery is, by the way, bookable for every visitor by appointment. You could take pictures at every corner, but of course you don’t want to miss any information from our guide Michi, who really can’t be put off his guard with any question. Maybe because he already knows here, unlike us, which wines we will taste together afterwards? So the tour goes past special wine bottles, we take a look at the bottling and get up close and personal with the filled noble wooden barrels. While summer heat broods above, it is pleasantly cool down here. Time to get up to temperature while exploring. The fact that the focus here at the Cantina was placed on contemporary and striking architecture is due to the common ground, our guide reveals. Because one is connected to wine, wine is architecture. You have a construction plan, and down here in the cellar it is then completed. A rounded idea.
Light figure or bottle? In this case: both. At the entrance to the winery is a Hall of Fame with special wines.
Another treasure trove: here the wines of the winery are stored in wooden barrels to get a final polish.
The one or other XXL barrel is also opened down there. But only a certain selection of wines goes into the wood.
What looks like a work of art with light installation houses nothing more than history. Here are stored wine jewels with a 19 before the vintage. They were discovered almost by accident during construction work, and can now be explored again. A collection from 1955 to today. Not just 2.3 bottles each, but quite a lot. And yes, this is not only meant theoretically, the treasures are also tasted and examined in the team. You really can’t get any closer to winery tradition than that. 50-year-old wine – must be exciting to taste something that was bottled before you were born.
Not a computer simulation, but a real treasure trove: Behind the light shows, wine treasures are stored with a clear 19 before the vintage.
But the vintage 87 here was only a short visit, as a proof picture.
Now it’s off to another little design paradise: the tasting room. Not that the tour has been dry so far, but how could anyone object when it continues fluidly? Exactly. Therefore, a few dates are now waiting with more white wines from Cantina Terlan.
Impressive: In the book about the Terlan Winery you can get an overview of the individual sites. Vintage deluxe, so to speak.
There are different lines called Primo, Rarity, Tradition and Selection. The latter stands for sophisticated high growths from the Terlan DOC area. The selected grapes are vinified in large oak and stainless steel barrels to produce wines of considerable complexity and longevity. Among them are white wines like the Cuvée Noa Domus, the Pinot Blanc Vorberg, the Chardonnay Kreuth or the Sauvignon Quarz. We first taste the Pinot Blanc from the Tradition line, 10.40 euros on the shelf. Terlan is like that, says Michi, and I can understand it. Class melting, yet tension, beautiful acidity, accessible but elegant. Does not become flat at all, has traction like Mbappé to the goal, honest fruit integration. During the day 30 degrees, the vines ripen, at night it cools down, this provides a stop, result: crispness and bite. A perfect wine, especially for beginners, to get to know the winery. Exciting how the counterpart from the Cantina Andrian on the opposite side of the river develops its own character, clearly more reminiscent of ice cream with salt brittle. Delicious.
To the table, please! I like this team lineup. At the tasting, the focus was on white wines.
These two white wines came like gentlemen to the end and left just as much impression. Style for the stem.
A special feature of the Terlan winery are the rarities, special bottlings of matured white wines that have been aged for at least ten years on the fine lees in steel pressure tanks – such as this Rarity 2008. What is particularly impressive is the youthful freshness with which this Terlaner captivates despite its mature age, which makes it perfect for longer bottle aging. However, it can also be drunk straight, and I can only recommend that. Pure Champions League. First creamy freshness, then emerges from the glass a tailored suit of minerality and spicy notes that fit like a glove.
A tasting booklet gave an overview of the different wine lines of Cantina Terlan.
We leave the church in the village but: Who is on the road in South Tyrol, which is warmly recommended to head for the parking lot of the Cantina!
The visit and tasting of the wines of the Kellerei Terlan was not only a great pleasure and discovery, but also the prelude to intensify the wine-blissful relationship with Cantina Terlan. Because I didn’t manage to taste all the wines, and of course that’s not possible. New dates are needed, and it’s best to go straight back to South Tyrol for them. Nevertheless, this was a memorable fruit salad adventure, for which I would like to thank the winery from the bottom of my heart. And I hope that one or the other inspiration was there for you!
*with the kind support of Cantina Terlan