Adventures with Weird Wine Grapes

There are 1,368 varieties covered in Master of Wine Jancis Robinson's Wine Grapes. Bet you can't try them all.

Teroldego: One Crushworthy Italian Grape's Revival

Note from the author: There are 1,368 varieties covered in Wine Grapes by MW Jancis Robinson, MW Julia Harding, and Dr. Jose Vouillamoz. Bet you can't try them all.

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Elisabetta Foradori works with the Teroldego grape and clay amphora at her winery in Trentino, Italy. [Photograph: Andrea Scaramuzza]

I don't know how to say this, but... I have a giant crush on Elisabetta Foradori. I have only met her once, and very briefly (it was at a crowded tasting where I'm sure I mumbled something urgent, excited, and lame about "what a big fan" I was while attempting to savor that face-to-face moment and the tiny, incredible taste in my glass as those around me elbowed their way in to the heroine). Still, I admire her with a fervor reserved for idols.

Elisabetta conveys all the qualities that, in my dark and insecure moments, I catch myself lacking: calm, confidence, grace, and poise. She's beautiful in that natural, effortless way that only European women seem able to achieve. And then there is her wine, reflecting Elisabetta like a mirror: confident yet graceful, poised and calm in its easy, natural beauty.

To be honest, the 2010 Foradori Vignettie delle Dolomiti Teroldego is not a wildly complex or profound wine; its brambly blackberry and tart pomegranate flavors are not shy (or remotely clumsy), though neither are they woven with ulterior aspirations. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the acid-bound fruit is an immovable black minerality. If you taste quietly, you might catch star anise on the finish. This wine's simple, straightforward confidence is one of the reasons I love it so very much. I also love that it doesn't require a special occasion; you can grab a weeknight bottle for under $20.

But I would pay $40 for it, simply for the story and as a donation to Elisabetta, who almost single-handedly revived the Teroldego grape in her hometown in the Campo Rotaliano area of Italy's Trentino region. Wine Grapes gives the Cliff's Notes version: Teroldego has been cultivated for many centuries in northern Italy, though in 2000 the planted acreage was down to just 1,705 and further decreasing. "Recommended producers include Elisabetta Foradori," says the book, "who instigated a quality revolution in the mid 1980s exemplified by her straight Teroldego Rotaliano and the more concentrated and ageworthy Granato..."

The rest of the story is that Elisabetta was thrown into winemaking at the young age of 20 after the untimely passing of her father. She made a quick study of winemaking and took over the estate, focused at first on efficiency fueled by industrialism. These were the times; this was the way.

Thankfully, intuition got the best of Elisabetta, and she gradually traded the machines for a new mantra—in her own words, "respect, waiting, love, listening, honesty." Quantity may have gone down, but the quality, distinctiveness, and character of her Teroldego shot through the roof. In addition to the everyday-drinking Vignetti delle Dolomiti Teroldego, Elisabetta makes that brooding, powerful and presence-filled Granato that Wine Grapes mentioned, as well as two epic, vineyard-specific versions that are aged in amphora. It didn't take long after setting off that "quality revolution" before critics, collectors, and everyday wine-lovers caught onto Elisabetta and her wines. I suppose it's hard not to notice when something so distinct passes in front of you.

Look for this bottle. When you find it, buy it. In fact, buy two. I promise it won't be long before you're crushing on Foradori and Teroldego, too.

2010 Foradori Vignettie delle Dolomiti Teroldego
The Grape: Teroldego
The Region: Trentino, Italy
The importer: Louis/Dressner Selections
Retail Price: $20

About the Author: Stevie Stacionis is a wine writer and Certified Sommelier based in San Francisco. She's currently drinking her way through the 1,368 varieties included in the new Wine Grapes tome. Follow her on Twitter @StevieStacionis and check out her snobbery-free wine videos at A Drinks With Friends TV.

More Adventures with Weird Wine Grapes

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Weird, Cool Wine: Give Valdiguié a Chance

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