Alto Adige, Italy
Accounting for only 9% of the wine produced in Alto Adige (an already small wine region in northeast Italy), Lagrein something of a hidden gem. This lesser known grape variety is native to this region and, when in the hands of the right producer, is capable of creating wines that can rival those of Bordeaux. J. Hofstatter is one such producer, with five generations of winemaking in this region and exceptional vineyards on both sides of the Adige River. This proximity to the water combined with the heat-retaining gravel soils on which their Lagrein grows allows the fruit to ripen fully and reach its full potential. So dark that it's almost opaque in the glass, this wine is both rustic and elegant, with bold aromas of dark cherry, violets and licorice, and flavors of dried black fruit, leather and spice. Supple in the mouth with velvety tannins but enough acidity to feel fresh and lifted and a long, pleasant finish, this wine would make a fantastic companion to beef bourginnon or aged Comté.