Schiava Sonntaler 2021

Producer: Cantina Kurtatsch
Region: Alto Adige
Country: Italy
Classification: DOC
Wine Type: Red
Variety: Schiava Grigia
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Alcohol: 13%
Residual Sugar: 2.3 g/L
Soil: Red sandy, loamy soil with dolomite, porphyry and clay minerals
Farming Practices: Sustainable
Awards: 90-Wine Enthusiast
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Cellar Profile

This organic winery is situated in the picturesque village bearing its name in Alto Adige, nestled in the Southern Alps and Dolomite mountain ranges. Its hand-crafted mountain wines are painstakingly made with as little intervention as possible to best exemplify the unique terroir of the region. These red wine vineyards have some of the hottest daytime temperatures in all of Italy, rising to 40℃ during the summer months, but with a significant drop in temperature in the evening to retain freshness. The whites come from the hamlets of Hofstatt and Penon, with heroic vineyards planted on exceedingly steep mountainsides at elevations up to 2500 ft above sea level. These rocky outcrops have a multitude of geological peculiarities, giving their wines intense, saline-like minerality. These are amongst the most aromatic and flavourful white wines on earth, ranging in style from steely dry to lusciously sweet.


The region of Trentino-Alto Adige is bordered by East and North Tyrol (Austria) to the northeast and north respectively, by Graubünden (Switzerland) to the northwest and by the Italian regions of Lombardy to the west and Veneto to the south and southeast. 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.


Organically farmed, Schiava grows in the oldest vineyards (the oldest planted in 1933) of the Kurtatsch estate at 300-400 masl. These old vines produce naturally low yields but exceptionally consistent and high quality wines. The iron-rich red sands and loam sit on a large plate of dolomite, with a fairly steep slope. These vineyards are also planted to Pinot Nero – the sandy soils accentuate primary fruit and the vineyard naturally has less sun exposure during the hottest part of the day to retain freshness.


Schiava, aka Vernatsch, aka Trollinger, is a variety that was likely originally cultivated in South Tyrol and Trentino. Records show that the grape has been growing in the Trentino-Alto Adige region since at least the 13th century. Although Schiava is grown throughout many German and Italian wine regions, the styles coming from Südtirol tend to be light in colour, brimming with fresh red fruit characteristics, and are most often dry, medium-light bodied and with naturally high levels of acidity.


The old-vine grapes must be hand-harvested, before de-stemming and crush. The juice is cold soaked before a long, cool fermentation in stainless steel. Pump-overs and punchdowns are utilized throughout the fermentation to extract colour and complexity. Malolactic conversion is done in large, neutral Slavonian oak barrels, a regional tradition for Schiava or “Vernatsch” production. The wine spends a year in barrel before bottling.

Tasting Notes 

Schiava always has wonderful, inviting aromatics. This one does not disappoint, with notes of bright red cherry, raspberry, violet and sandalwood. It is mid-weight, with acid providing the balance instead of tannin. On the palette, there is red fruit with a streak of earthiness and saline minerality. Lightly chill and pair with pork tenderloin, root veggie stew or grilled sausages