Nestled at the foot of Castel Madruzzo, in the foothills of the Dolomites, sits Agricola Pravis. The winery started in the 1970s, as a partnership between three friends. Now, second-generation vintner sisters, Giulia and Erika Pedrini, have taken over the responsibility of running Pravis. Surrounded by stone outcroppings, their small, ecologically-farmed vineyards are scattered throughout the hills, each planted in calcareous stone, according to unique microclimates, with altitudes ranging from 300 to 600 masl. Working with both international as well as indigenous varieties (such as their noteworthy Nosiola), Pravis uses a minimal intervention philosophy that includes a strict gravity flow process. The cooling breeze that whips through the mountain passes from nearby Lake Garda, called the “Ora” by locals, minimizes the risk of mildew and keeps temperatures moderate during the hottest parts of summer, ensuring that these mineral-driven wines retain plenty of elegance. Interestingly, the winery works with the Freiburg Institute in the development of “zero impact” clone varieties that would leave no ecological footprint and would grow in otherwise inhospitable environments for agriculture.
The region of Trentino-Alto Adige is bordered by East and North Tyrol (Austria) to the north-east and north respectively, by Graubünden (Switzerland) to the north-west and by the Italian regions of Lombardy to the west and Veneto to the south and south-east. It covers 13,607 square kilometres and is extremely mountainous, covering a large part of the Dolomites and the southern Alps. Südtirol (where Cantina Kurtatsch is located) has an area of 7,398 square kilometres, all of it mountainous land and covered by vast forests. The climate here is Mediterranean (hot summer and cold winters) owing to the influence of the many mountain ranges, which stand at over 3,000 metres above sea level, and the wide valleys through which flows (from north to south) the main river, the Adige, and its numerous tributaries.
Covered slopes surrounded by slabs of stone, crystal blue lakes and the steep walls of the Dolomites, gently swept by the Mediterranean wind: this is where Pravis wines are produced. Numerous small vineyards are scattered on the sunny slopes of the mountains that separate Trento from the lower Sarca Valley, between the Brenta Dolomites and Lake Garda. The Le Biolche Vineyard sits at one of the highest points, on the steep face of the Dolomites, windswept at 500 masl. The vineyard has a combination of Dolomia (a mix of soils indigenous to the region), calcium carbonate and magnesium.
A cross between the red-skinned Schiava and Riesling, Kerner is frost-resistant, so is used in regions like Germany, Austria and Trentino-Alto Adige, areas that are prone to late spring and fall frosts. Small-berried, the vines can be quite vigorous and attention must be paid to canopy systems in order for full sugar ripeness in the grapes. An intensely aromatic variety, Kerner can craft wonderful wines that run the gamut from lusciously sweet to dry and mineral-driven.
The vines are heroically harvested by hand on steep slopes. Brought into the winery cool, the grapes are gently pressed after a short cold maceration to extract a touch of colour and extra character. The wine is fermented “low and slow”, with attention paid to keeping the temperature controlled to maintain fruit character.
Aromatic with notes of white flowers, ripe pear, nutmeg, cinnamon and a hint of peach. Off-dry, with apple, pear and the baking spice replays on the palate. Vibrant acidity helps the wine finish crisp and clean. A brilliant choice for Chinese takeout or a chicken stir fry.