A Swiss-German friend of mine once told me that "there is really no way to say I love you in Swiss-German."
She was referring to the fact that the German-speaking Swiss have only a roundabout way to express familial affection.
This linguistic nugget came to mind the other night when my wife Tracie P and I tasted a wine from German-speaking Italy, the South Tyrol -- Südtirol in German, Alto Adige (pronounced AHL-toh AH-dee-jeh) in Italian.
Luckily for us, the inhabitants of the South Tyrol speak an Austrian dialect of German and are not as amorously challenged as their Swiss-German counterparts.
I say this because Tracie P and I have both become enamored with a wine from South Tyrol by the Laimburg winery in the Alto Adige/Südtirol Kalterersee Auslese appellation (the [Lago di] Caldaro Scelto DOC that lies at the top of the Adige Valley around Lake Caldaro, not far from the Austrian border).
The wine was recommended to me by leading Houston wine professional Marcy Jimenez of the Houston Wine Merchant, where it weighs in at around $24.
As with any wine that we open up at the dinner table (and no wine is served in our house unaccompanied by food), we look for food-friendliness: Clean, fresh flavors and aromas; bright, zinging acidity; and gentle alcohol well balanced by the fruit, body, texture and tannin of the wine. And this wine was the embodiment of our vinous ideals.
The 2008 Laimburg "Ölleiten" is made from 100 percent Vernatsch grapes (called Schiava in Italian) and it gets its name by virtue of the fact that the fruit is raised in vineyards that lie adjacent to olive groves.
The fact that olives can be cultivated at such high altitudes in Alpine Italy is significant.
The Adige Valley, formed in prehistoric times by the Adige river (one of the main rivers of Italy), is a long, deep depression surrounded by the Alps and is one of the most stunning natural sites in Europe. Even during winter months, the flat valley floor remains warm enough to allow for the cultivation of apples (one of its most famous products), grape vines and olive trees (the olive is a fruit and not a vegetable, by the way). And during summer months, the cool Alpine air currents ventilate the growing sites and moderate the sun's heat, thus avoiding over-ripeness, ensuring the freshness of the harvest -- whether apple, grape or olive.
In other words, the Adige Valley is one of the natural wonders of the world and one of Mother Nature's not-so-little miracles -- a gift to humankind, just like this wine.
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My recommendation for this under-$25 wine? Run, don't walk...
Laimburg Ölleiten, Ich liebe dich von ganzem Herzen.