Another grape on the “one’s who got away” list from our last trip through Italy is a staff favorite, Lagrein.
Those who have been with us the last few years may remember Lot 634, St. Helena Lagrein. It was a cult favorite, and as soon as it was gone, there was an outpouring of “when will it be back?” messages and calls – we love when folks fall in love with an oddity as much as we do, if not more!
We’ve called that producer year after year since to try and get our hands on some to no avail. So, on our way back from Europe, when Lagrein came up, we lamented on not finding any we were in love with this trip through South Tyrol, however, we were shocked to get an outreach a few weeks after returning from a producer down south in Paso Robles, claiming to have a surplus of an off-the-beaten-path grape called “Lagrein, have you ever heard of it? Most haven’t and that’s fine…”
“Oh! Let me cut you off right there, yes, we’re very familiar, and we’ve actually been trying to find some between home and Italy over the last few years, please forward samples.”
Few days later, our tasting panel, samples in hand, were all swirling, sniffing, nodding, “yup, this is the one.”
If you were not able to get any Lot 634, nor had a chance to try Lagrein before, traditionally it’s blended with Pinot Noir (Pinot Nero in the local nomenclature), and used for it’s intense color to deepen the softer colored, generally underripe Pinot Noir for the regional red wine of Trentino-Alto Adige. Wines produced exclusively from the grape tend to be intense in color, astringent to a degree (great for food pairing), with wild cherry and plum flavors. New World expressions we’re looking for follow suit as well for the record, we’re not ever looking for fruit-bomb Lagrein that’s over ripe from experimental plantings, just varietally correct wine, regardless of region.
So, if you were one of those reaching out for more 634, Lagrein is coming back, soon! If you’ve not had a chance, we used to tell folks it’s a great wine for Cab drinkers thinking to experiment with wines like Pinot Noir, but weren’t ready to sacrifice tannin, color and body that they enjoy in their Cabs. Or, if you’re a Pinot Noir fan, this is a great wine to try something more intense, without getting into big, bold reds. Not many grapes exist in the collective consciousness or major market that fill the space Lagrein grows within.
All that said, keep an eye on our new release emails in the near future for the next offering of Lagrein.