Nusserhof from the air.

Summer of Nusserhof

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Nusserhof is an unusual place; originally in the country, the town of Bolzano* has grown around the property, with eminent domain nibbling at the edges; most recently it was proposed to re-route the railway to bisect what’s left of the property but that threat seems to have been beaten back. Inside the walls Nusserhof is a kind of oasis, and the city seems far in the background.

Tyroldego vines, looking east towards the Isarco
The vines looking west, with Bolzano outside the vineyard

 

The Mayr-Nusser family now produce some of the best wines made anywhere. They are pure and magical. They have the kind of energy and personality that can only come from naturally made wine – organic farming, organic winemaking. Others make wonderful wines from the same grapes (except for the Blaterle!) but the Nusserhof wines are quite unique.

Kevin McKenna in the tasting room at Nusserhof
Grandpa checking the finished product

 

*Bolzano is about 40 miles south of the border of Italy and Austria; this was Austria in the old days – the Tyrol - hence the Germanic names. The city is in the valley made by the Isarco river, surrounded by steep and spectacularly beautiful alpine country. The valley gives Bolzano a climate that can support grape cultivation – it’s actually quite hot in summer, and not horribly cold in winter.

Pergola-trained vines in the Elda vineyard
Elda seen from above

 

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Nusserhof (Heinrich Mayr) 2009 Vino da Tavola Blaterle

Blatterle is a rare indigenous grape that makes a fantastic dry wine. Hans Mayr believes this is the only bottling of Blaterle on the market – there are some other versions made for family consumption, but not for public sale.  The wine is an appealing pale gold – it’s fermented and aged in stainless steel, and little sulfur is used in the winemaking, but the wine doesn’t have funky or reduced aromas. On a recent visit to Nusserhof we were treated to Blatterle 2002; the wine was intriguingly reminiscent of older Riesling, and still very much alive.

The 2009 is really lovely: aromatic, with an emphasis on stone and herbs (thyme, rosemary) – a little like good Vermentino; the wine is quite rich and dry, very savory and stony and smoky on the palate, with herbs, nut and nut skin, with bright acidity, very long, with refreshing clarity of flavor: mountain wine, and excellent with lots of kinds of food.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
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  • $27.99

Nusserhof (Heinrich Mayr) 2009 Vino do Tavola Elda (Schiava)

Schiava is a very appealing grape, usually making a light dry red, quite delicate, with light strawberry fruit, perhaps a bit of sour cherry, and fresh and easy to drink – a wine to chill for summer. Just to simplify things, it can also be called Vernatsch or Trollinger…

The Elda vineyard is just north of Bolzano; until recently it was tended by Hans’ aunt – she’s 90 and many of the vines are almost as old – Hans had wanted to work in Elda for years. The vines are trained in the old style called ‘pergola’, and are now right next to the highway; there are not too many places to put 6 lanes of road in a mountain valley, but at least the vines survived.

I see that the “Oxford Companion to Wine” describes Schiava as “the name for several undistinguished dark-skinned grape varieties”. That may be so, but the Nusserhof version is really lovely, and there are some other very good Schiavas out there. Not every wine needs to be an important blockbuster, and it’s hard to resist a cool glass of this on a warm day. Made from the best of the several varieties of Schiava, and organically farmed, from old pergola vines giving low yields, this version is certainly more serious than most Schiava, showing more depth and texture, while remaining appealingly light-bodied. There’s that light strawberry fruit, some smoky mineral, a hint of mint and other herbs, and invigorating freshness. A fascinating wine.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $32.99

Nusserhof (Heinrich Mayr) 2008 Vino da Tavola Teroldego

Most Teroldego is grown further south, in Trento, and the Nusserhof version may reflect this –it’s definitely wilder and edgier. It makes an interesting contrast with the fabulous wines from Foradori, whose Teroldegos are very much the quality standard for the grape, and which are a bit more elegant and polished.

Nusserhof’s shows good, ripe tannin and acidity – the wine is fairly structured and mouth-wateringly juicy, rich but not heavy –there’s great energy. Teroldego / Tyroldego might remind you of northern Rhône Syrah in offering a smoky/meaty aspect to the aromatics, along with plum and dark fruits, and nice chalky minerals. As is so often the case, careful farming and low yields make all of the difference. We drank some recently with butterflied leg of lamb from the grill – the lamb was very good, the wine was fantastic!

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  • red
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  • $29.99

Nusserhof (Heinrich Mayr) 2006 Sudtiroler Lagrein Riserva

In April (as the photo shows) we tasted some older Lagrein at Nusserhof; it turns out that Lagrein can age very well (hard to believe that a 1995 is now 17 years old…). I’ve seen experts variously describe Lagrein as both low in tannin and as significantly tannic; the Nusserhof version is somewhere in the middle, as there’s sufficient structure to balance ripe and juicy fruit; the younger bottles show something like blueberry, the older more plummy and chocolaty; the wine remains dry and savory, with nice herbal flavors. The 2006 is in a very good place for drinking now. It’s not a huge wine by any means but intensely flavorful and delicious. Presented recently to a cousin who insists on “full-bodied wine”, it took him by surprise, and another convert was made.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
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  • $32.99

Nusserhof (Heinrich Mayr) 2012 Südtirol Lagrein Kretzer (Rosato)

An exciting and unusual (in the best way) natural wine made from Lagrein, a red grape native to the Alto Adige. Complex herbal and spicy aromas join citrus and cherry fruits all the way to a long finish.

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  • rosé
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  • $27.99