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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
20 Jul 2010

From €22.86, 39.90 Swiss francs, $44.31 ($16.99 and €15.50 for the Isola e Olena)

Find the Quarz

Find the Isola e Olena

Victoria Daskal wrote a very enthusiastic note about this wine when she tasted it back in Feburary 2009. She scored it 17+, the plus sign denoting the fact that she was sure it would blossom into something even better. I ordered it with a series of first courses at the River Café in London last week and everyone round the table, experienced wine tasters all, was very impressed.

The wines of Alto Adige with their pure mountain flavours and refreshing crispness really come into their own in high summer and this is perhaps the only wine region in the world where the co-ops have such a uniformly high reputation for quality. The regular releases of the Terlano co-op (also known to the local German speakers as Kellerei Terlan) are extremely reliable but this Quarz bottling of wine form their oldest Sauvignon Blanc vines is really very superior by any measure.

There's a real density to this wine and the aromatic qualities of Sauvignon Blanc seem to have developed into something so much more complex and sophisticated than the usual young Sauvignon. Long-standing winemaker Rudi Kofler deliberately sculpts wines for the long term – clearly to great effect. As described here, Victoria tasted wines back to 1956 (and back to a respectable 1979 in the case of Sauvignon Blanc). The finish of Cantina Terlano, Quarz Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Alto Adige is dry and the overall impression is extremely zesty but with enough richness in the mid palate to deliver truly satisfying wine for food. Our choices included melt-in-the-mouth ravioli filled with green leaves (spinach?), broad bean puree bruschetta, spaghetti with bottarga and squid with chilli and rocket/arugula and all went beautifully. This is too concentrated and serious a wine to drink as an aperitif, I think, and its alcohol level of 14% suggests it should be sipped quite carefully.

This is not a cheap wine, but it is excellent value at the sort of prices cited above. The only retailer I can find in the UK is Ten Acre wines (www.ten-acre.com), who seem to be asking £78 a magnum for it but will sell a minimum of four of them. That's some party.

Much less expensive is the Isola e Olena 2007 Chianti Classico we drank afterwards. This is a particularly rich, ripe vintage of Paolo De Marchi's classic signature wine and I would defy anyone not to be swept off their feet by its intensity and balance – unless they were determined that all Chianti has to be pale and tart. This wine is widely available throughout Europe and the US where you can find this wine for as little as $16.99. In Europe you can find it for less than €15.50 a bottle. My researches into the UK stockists listed by winesearcher have been rather frustrating. Several are cited but I can find no record of the wine chez the first four on the list. I wish you the best of luck at tracking it down. Brits could always ask importer Liberty Wines (nicola.lawrence@libertywines.co.uk) for their nearest stockist.

Find the Quarz

Find the Isola e Olena