Lagrein, pronounced “Lah-grine”, represents less than 9% of total wine production in Alto Adige. Being a cousin of Syrah and a grandchild of Pinot, this grape has a royal lineage.
Lagrein first appeared in wine documentation around the beginning of the 13th century, was praised in 1370 by Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, and was on the brink of extinction by the 1970s. Today it's back on top thanks to its aging potential and high quality.
What Does Lagrein Taste Like?
Lagrein is praised for its deep color, robust tannins, and elegant black cherry and violet aromas. Smoky aromas along with spice come from aging in oak, which helps soften the tannins.
Lagrein shares traits with one of the most popular grapes on the planet: Cabernet Sauvignon. If you enjoy the structured tannins and rich violet aromas, Lagrein will be worth tasting.
What Foods Work with Lagrein?
Lagrein's tannic structure and refreshing acidity mean it pairs well with hearty dishes such as boeuf bourguignon, ragù, and Tyrolean goulash.
Aged mountain cheeses like Piave Vecchio, Montasio, Gruyère, and Comté work well too!
Lagrein grapes grow on pergolas at Weingut Pfannenstielhof.
Where to Look for Great Lagrein
Lagrein needs heat to ripen fully, so you’ll find it at lower altitudes, rarely grown 1,000 ft. (300 m) above sea level. It also grows best in gravel and porphyry soils.
You won’t find a specific sub-region dedicated to Lagrein. The best vineyards are south of Bolzano, where lower altitudes and the porphyry soils dominate.
Some helpful tips for finding your Lagrein:
- For robust and age-worthy Lagrein, look for “Riserva” on the label.
- The best Lagrein comes from single vineyards, so look for “Vigna” on the label.
- Lagrein blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot will include that information on the label.
Wineries to check out for Lagrein
Muri-Gries: A winery and abbey in one, with a distinct focus on producing Lagrein from porphyric soils near Bolzano.
J. Hofstätter: The grapes are sourced from very steep slopes, producing single-vineyard Lagrein near Bolzano, labeled Vigna Steinraffler.
Cantina Bolzano (Kellerei Bozen): With 224 members, this cooperative produces a Lagrein Riserva that received 92 points from Robert Parker Jr.