Loacker Atagis Gewurztraminer 2008, Alto Adige - £16.95 (2006 vintage) from www.greatwesternwine.co.uk
Alto Adige is a bit of a conundrum; technically part of Italy, but essentially German-speaking; a disconcerting mix of Tyrolean alpine scenery, dotted with palms and fig trees; an area where Muller Thurgau is taken seriously as a grape variety, instead of being derided. It's hard to know what to make of it.
The varieties grown in this region are, as you might expect, not typically Italian: alongside Pinot Grigio sit Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Reds are traditionally made from the local varieties Schiava and Lagrein, though some Pinot Noir is making its mark.
Rainer Loacker's wines, however, are a soothing balm to confused minds. He was the first grower in this region to become organic and biodynamic, using only homeopathic remedies to treat his vines since 1979.
Gewurztraminer, though usually made as a dry wine here, can become rather fat and flabby in Alto Adige's hot summers. This version though, has great precision and freshness which reins in the variety's broad lychee and rose petal fruit. Alto Adige will never be a low-cost production area and Loacker never a maker of cheap wines - but there's a uniqueness here which is worth paying for.
By the way, just in case you were wondering - yes, they are part of the same family who own Loacker Wafers, beloved of UK coffee shops.