Pinot Noir in the Clouds

The magic of Pinot Noir lies in its expression of terroir. But its sensitivity to site means that there are very few places where its genius is fully articulated.

The newest addition to the list—Italy's mountainous Alto Adige—is there thanks to the vision of a single domaine, Weingut Abraham, which has capitalized on warmer summers to produce some of the finest Pinot Noirs ever seen in Northern Italy.

By focusing on a single terroir, Martin and Marlies Abraham stand apart in a region where the best juice from the best terroirs has traditionally disappeared into the blended cuvées of co-ops.

Since 2011, the Abrahams have used partial whole-cluster fermentation with native yeasts to craft stunning Pinot Noirs (locally known as Blauburgunders) from two nearby plots owned by their family for more than a century.

Jancis Robinson’s Italian specialist, Walter Speller, calls them “a highly original expression of Pinot Noir; savoury rather than fruity, and bursting with minerals.”

The Abrahams have earned a rapturous following among European connoisseurs and critics, but their wines were virtually unknown in the U.S. until we became their first U.S. importer last year.

Our first retail offer, of the 2018 Blauburgunder, sold out in a heartbeat in January. The brilliant 2019 has just arrived, and at $54.95 a bottle, there are few Pinot Noirs (even from Burgundy) that are more compelling. But you'll need to move quickly to find out why.

Breaking from the Past
Though the Abrahams have been growers for generations, Martin and Marlies were the first to bottle their own wines, recognizing the vast potential of their mountain terroir.

The vines have a western exposure and are above 450 meters, which maximizes both richness and terroir expression. The soils are also extraordinary: high iron-content calcareous Dolomite clay from the nearby Mendelberg peak, and glacially deposited, quartz-rich volcanic porphyry.

Finally, the sites benefit from wide daily temperature swings, with warm air rising from the valley below during the day, and cooling breezes descending the Mendelberg at night. This ensures gradual ripening, producing fruit of great aromatic complexity framed within a firm structure.

A Superb Vintage
The 2019 Alto Adige vintage produced beautifully balanced wines of succulently ripe fruit framed by firm structure and bright acidity. A late frost in May lowered yields, and June rains created abundant groundwater levels which helped the vines weather the dry summer. There were no heat spikes, and the region’s hallmark daily temperature swings brought the grapes to slowly ripen, complex maturity, late-harvested under perfect conditions.

In the cellar, the grapes were fermented and macerated with the native yeasts, including partial whole-cluster fruit, for a lengthy three weeks in open-top oak vats with manual punchdowns for gentle extraction, followed by two years reductive aging on the lees in neutral tonneaux and minimal sulfur additions for full expressiveness.

In its crystalline clarity and its fine, but rich, palate, Weingut Abraham’s 2019 Blauburgunder is a unique and exciting expression of Pinot Noir.

The downside is that only 50 cases were made available for the U.S. Consequently, we're pleased to give RWC private clients the first opportunity to experience these brilliant renderings of a unique terroir. Limit: two 3-packs per client.

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