2022 Cantina Abbazia di Novacella Kerner 'Praepositus' Alto Adige-Valle Isarco


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Let’s start our journey in the Eisaktaller or, as the Italians say, the Valle Isarco.  While still in Italy (for now), this narrow, high altitude valley sits just a few kilometers from the Brener Pass into Innsbruck, Austria.  While this area is dotted with small vineyards and micro-producers (and one very high-quality cooperative), the most important producer, by far, is the 12th century monastery that dominates the hamlet of Novacella/Neustift.  The Abbazia, even though the monks have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, also run their own working village growing apples and vegetables for the surrounding markets as well as running their own school of viticulture to teach about their winemaking traditions that go back, literally, millennia.  The wines they make here, all from local grapes, are absolutely sensational; pure, focused and deeply flavored.  None are better than the outstanding reserve-level wines called Praepositus, Latin for ‘leader.’  Here is the linearity, salinity and precision one expects from this alpine region, but sourced from the very oldest and best sites on the estate allowing for ultimate ripeness and expression.  The 2022 Kerner was harvested from very steep, organically-farmed vineyards sitting at around 700 meters. Aged solely in stainless, it is, nonetheless, a richly textured, decadent wine aromatic of just-picked summer apricots, clove-y spice and lemon verbena before revealing its inner core of Golden Delicious apple, Asian pear and dried Acacia honey.  It’s on the finish that the wine’s native fresh alpine acidity kicks in bringing with it the wine’s stunning minerality.  Put another way, imagine a Grand Cru Chablis grown in the Italian Alps!  Still young, this will only develop in the bottle over the next five to eight years.  It’s really a stunner!