Schiava is a red grape that may have originated in Germany (where it goes by the name Trollinger) or from Italy. There are also several other grapes that bear the Schiava name, but aren’t related, such as Schiava Gentile and Schiava Grossa. Today, Schiava is the major red grape grown in the northeastern region of Alto Adige (where it can also go by the name Vernatsch) in the Italian Alps. It has grown in this area since at least the 1500s. In recent years, as the demand for white wines from the region has grown, the number of plantings of Schiava has decreased. Where it once accounted for almost 70% of grape production, it now makes up around 10%. It is low in tannins, making it ideal for those that prefer less grippy wines like Pinot Noir or Gamay/Beaujolais. Schiava is also quite food friendly. As a result of its lighter body and bright fruit character, it is a great complement to pork, chicken, and other lighter meats. It also has enough acidity to accompany tomato based dishes such as bruschetta or pasta.
For my 200th wine variety, I drank a 2020 Erste-Neue Schiava from the Kalterersee DOC in the Alto Adige region. Wines from the Kalterersee DOC benefit from the relatively warm temperature of Lake Kaltern (it looks like a place I must add to my bucket list!). It was also labeled as a classico superiore. These terms don’t always have meaning but if the wine comes from Italy, they do. The classico term in this instance refers to the grapes being grown in one of a few select lakeside towns. A good way to think about the meaning of classico is to think of wines with this designation coming from the ‘historical heartland’ of the originally defined region. Oftentimes, borders get redrawn, like in the case of Chianti, but a bottle of Chianti Classico comes from the original lands. These areas are commonly the sites with the best growing conditions. Superiore typically means the wine meets more stringent guidelines in viticulture and has a slightly higher alcohol content. In this instance, however, it refers to this bottle being a dry wine. When I poured my first glass, I immediately noticed the beautiful light ruby color. It quite literally reminded me of the gemstone. The aromas evoked thoughts of Beaujolais or Gamay because the red fruits were so prominent. Ripe red cherries, fresh raspberries, ripe red currants were blended with amaretto and a touch of fresh rose petals. This wine smelled joyful and exuberant. When I tasted it, this easy drinking, light bodied wine had an agreeable level of acid and tannin. The alcohol content was in the middle of the road. On the palate, the ripe red cherries became more of a cordial cherry note. It was also reminiscent of cranberry sauce and cranberry juice. These flavors lingered but as they dissipated, the amaretto became more apparent. This wine is a great bottle to bring to a dinner party when you’re not quite sure what is being served because it can be paired with a large variety of foods. It was a fantastic choice for #200 also!