Girlan Lagrein Alto Adige DOC 2018 | $30

On Monday the sandwich board outside of Terroni Bar Centrale read “$20+ wines”, which seemed to me to be an odd way to entice customers. Then I remembered that Summerhill LCBO is almost next door, and it’s closed on Mondays. Disappointed wine shoppers, spurned from the liquor store, must have been coming into Bar Centrale looking for a bottle for dinner and suffered sticker shock at the $100 Barolo and further disappointment. The sandwich board was a fair warning, though to be perfectly fair, as bottle shops go Bar Centrale is pretty good value, and what’s for sale is priced on the catalogue of the importing agency Cavinona, and not marked-up to restaurant rates. So, there are some very good bottles of wine for sale on top of the stool-less bar, including the 2018 Lagrein from Girlan, a co-operative in the Italian Alpine region of Alto Adige, or Sudtirol.

I tasted wines from Kellerei Girlan in Bolzano last September when I attended the Alto Adige Wine Summit, as a guest of Südtirol Wein*, but I don’t have any notes on their Lagrein, and there’s no mention of it in the program. I quite like Lagrein, and signed-up for a day of vineyard visits and tastings of it when I was there (which I wrote about here and here). But the vineyards and wineries I tasted were all within the city limits of Bolzano, and Girlan is named for the town, called Cornaiano in Italian, downriver from Bolzano in the Adige Valley. This Lagrein, of which I have bought a few bottles over the past couple weeks, is lovely. One of the things I learned about Alto Adige, when I was there, is that it gets quite hot in the summer, and at the lower altitudes closer to the river, the climate is more Mediterranean than Alpine. Lagrein is generally planted in those warmer zones, and this one is rich and concentrated in fruit. The label features a glass of what looks like blue wine, and though the Girlan Lagrein look dark red in the glass in real life, the notes are black and blue with a lovely violet nose. We opened a bottle for a Fathers Day feast of pork side ribs and it was perfect: big enough, and with enough Italian acid, to stand up to the fatty Tamshire pig, but still complex and nuanced.

How To Get The Wine…
The Cavinona website is selling the 2019 Girlan Lagrein, so what’s been for sale at Bar Centrale may well be the end lot of the 2018. You could call ahead to see if they have it, or just take a chance. I suggest the latter because one of the attractive features of the bottle shop is that it’s staffed by sommeliers like Gint Prunskus who will help you find something comparable and interesting.

*Because of this region’s history, it has complicated language politics that I described in this post, and everything there has two names. Since most, if not all, of the winemakers I met in Alto Adige spoke German as their first language, I’ll use it for the names of the cellars and the professional association, and Italian for the grape and place names, since they will be easier to search on Google.