We might have arrived a little late to the party, for when we first heard about this wine, the now legendary 2009 was already sold out and hidden away into collectors' cellars. Noble Grape is now lined up to get a tiny allocation of the next release of this wine, the 2013.
We have long been fans of Cantina Tramin in Alto Adige. This dynamic co-operative (Cantina Sociale in Italian) makes some of the world's best Gewürztraminers. Hardly surprising as the winery is based in the village which gives its name to this highly aromatic variety. With the 2009 vintage the winery sought to return to the type of wine that was made generations ago, a Spatlese (late-picked) style of Gewürztraminer from botrytis (noble rot) affected grapes.
For this they have used their best vineyards and oldest vines, located in the Nussbaumer cru, from which we already stock the dry version of Gewürztraminer. The grapes are converted into this nectar in a fairly conventional manner: gently pressed with 8 months on the fine lees, but it is the ageing process which is quite remarkable. Once bottled, the wines are aged in a former silver mine, 2,000 metres above sea-level, with perfect humidity of 90%, pressure and temperature of 11C all year round, where they spend 9 years before being released to a lucky few.
The attention to detail here is quite staggering. No surprise then that the debut release, 2009, got a perfect score of 100 points from the Italian correspondent Monica Larner for Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. This is the first time a white wine from Italy has ever achieved this, and not only that it is also the first time for a wine outside Piedmont or Tuscany. Bravo Alto Adige and Cantina Tramin.