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The Schiava Grape


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About Schiava

(Synonyms [these are only a few of many]: Trollinger, Vernatsch.)

Background

Map showing the Alto Adige region of Italy.

Schiava is—like the Refoschi, the Malvasias, and the Muscats, just to name a few—another of those names attached to a group of grape varieties that, in this case as in many such, are not even related to one another. The name seems to derive from a method of vine training used on those grapes—pergola—which (intentionally, to avoid over-growth) reduces the vigor of the vine, hence schiavo, “slave”. The four Schiava varieties, all of Italian origin and current production, are:

The first three of those come from the Alto Adige region in the far north of Italy; the fourth, as its name suggests has its home in Lombardy. That one is usually used in blends, monovarietal bottlings (if any) being rare; we will not deal further with it here. As to the others, despite their genetic differentiation as distinct varieties, we deal with them here essentially as one grape, for two reasons: first, the wines they produce are quite similar; and second, it is often from difficult to impossible to discover which particular “Schiava” grape (or blend) has been used to make any particular wine labelled “Schiava” (even the Italian wine laws are somewhat fuzzy on the matter).

The basic virtue of a Schiava wine is its light, refreshing nature: charming, as some put it. The wines are fairly light in body, with moderate acidity, giving them a “smooth” feel. The aromas and flavors are of red fruit—strawberries, raspberries—often enhanced by various overtones, from smoke to almond, providing interest. Despite its rounded and fruity nature, Schiava is quite dry, and so never cloys. It is meant for drinking young: aging is not advised. In summer, it can be served lightly chilled, while in winter it can go with even fairly hearty foods.

Factoid: Schiava is commonly labelled in both Italian and German, owing to the bi-lingual culture of its home region, the Alto Adige (aka “Südtirol”).

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Some Descriptions of Schiava Wines

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Some Schiavas to Try

(About this list.)

Schiavas have not yet made much of a dent in the U.S. wine market. The ones below are all we could find that meet our price/availability criteria. Where we show a particular Schiava grape as the constituent, we found a source somewhere that said so, but don’t bet the farm on the accuracy of those assignments.


Elena Walch Schiava
(Schiava Gentile. Do not confuse this basic bottling with their two upscale “Kalterer See” Schiava bottlings.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
  (CellarTracker has two separate listings for this wine.)
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Nals Margreid “Galea” Vernatsch
(Schiava Gentile.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Castelfeder “Alte Reben” Vernatsch
(Schiava Grigia.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Abbazia di Novacella Schiava
(Schiava Gentile? Schiava Grigia? Do not confuse this with their “St. Magdalener” bottling.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

Our nomination is the Nusserhof “Elda” Vino Rosso. It is an Alto Adige wine, composed of roughly 85% Schiava, the rest being a field blend of local grape types. The wine’s name, Elda, is for winemaker Heinrich Mayr’s wife.

The labelling “Vino Rosso” (plain “Red Wine”, the lowest label designation existing in Italian wine law) is yet another testimonial to the general stupidity of Italian wine laws (almost all are bad, but the Italian are worse), the sort of thing that led to the so-called “Super-Tuscans”. The local Santa Magdalena DOC allows yields of up to 150 hl/ha, so the Mayrs opt out of it for this more structured and complex 30hl/ha beauty. “Elda” must thus, by law, be classified as just Vino Rosso, and cannot even indicate grape or vintage on the label (though a lot number discreetly signals vintage). What a joke.

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.