On the hills just 20 minutes north of Bolzano lies the town and rolling slopes of St. Pauls. It’s here where terroir, passion and technology combine to create some of the regions’ most drinkable wines. The Yum List gets an inside tour of the vineyards and winery, and meets some of the people behind the scenes of this South Tyrolean co-operative.
St. Pauls Co-operative
Composed of 175 hectares and 200 growers, the medieval wine village of St. Pauls first formed a co-operative in 1907. For over 100 years the winery has been processing the grapes of the farmers and in recent years has lifted its game by employing expert wine maker, Wolfgang Tratter to lead the production. Expressing the taste of the terroir in every bottle, Wolfgang has allowed the uniqueness of the area to fully shine.
Dr. Alessandro Righi, managing director, has broadened St. Pauls’ audience much further afield than solely the residents of the region, and Leopold Kager, president, represents the interests of the 200 winegrowers. It’s Leopold who introduces us to the vineyards, winemaking techniques and wines of St. Pauls while sharing with us stories of the characters behind the brand.
Beginning with the ultimate wine by St. Pauls, Sanctissimus, we start our tour with a walk through the oldest Pinot Blanc vineyard in Alto Adige. Inspired by the small church St. Paul just above the vineyard, the holy connection makes its path all the way to the Vatican where a bottle of the Sanctissimus is well received every year.
Steep slopes and a limited hand-only harvest guarantee that only the very best grapes make it into the bottle. Gently fermented on skins and matured in terracotta amphorae, the wine displays delicious aromas of honey, toasted nuts and a hint of spice. It’s soft in the palate with notes of apple and citrus peel, and is marvellously freshly acidic and creamy all at once.
Exploration continues to another location, this time an old bunker instructed to be built my Mussolini himself! Now in much happier times, the bunker guards bottles of Praeclarus – St. Pauls’ sparkling wine. Produced in the traditional method (in the style of great French Champagne), the bottles are hand turned and double fermented in the bottle in this protective site now fondly known as “the vault.”
Three vineyards with perfect microclimates, including high altitude and calcareous soil, supply the Chardonnay grapes for this special production. Stone and citrus fruits flourish in the bouquet, while a fresh, creamy juiciness is dominant in the palate. It’s elegant and rides a long refreshing finish.
St. Pauls and Passion
We return to St. Pauls tasting room, which is open to the public, and taste a number of grapes side by side: first the entry level St. Pauls range (usually a little younger) followed by the top of the line Passion series (a little older and more limited in production). In all of the wines, I find the second, the Passion series, usually a little more aromatic with greater body and bit more structure.
White Burgundy (Wiessburgunder/ Pinot Bianco) Plotzner and the “Riserva” are popular aperitivos. They’re fruity, light and slide down all too easily. The Sauvignon GFILL and Passion are typical of the grape with wonderful perfumes of elderberry, tomato and hints of green. A beautiful floral bouquet is found in the young and fresh Gewurtztraminer JUSTINA and Passion. All are great for the start of a meal and would pair well with light appetisers such as salads and fresh seafood.
Ideal for summer garden parties, the Lagrein Kretzer Rosé is highly drinkable. Its freshness and high acidity have me thinking of friends and barbecues and cheery times in warm weather.
Determined to share as much of St. Pauls as possible, our affable host Leopold shuffles us to the next location, Gasthop Lipp for a tasting of the reds paired with lunch. Find these in Part 2 of this article in tomorrow’s post.
Until then, cheers, saluti and prost!
* This inside tour was made possible by the folk at Das Central, Soelden – a luxury hotel with extensive experience in wine tourism.
St. Pauls – Kellerei / Cantina/ Winery
I-39057 St. Pauls/Eppan (BZ)
+ 0471 662183