Lagrein is a red wine grape variety native to the valleys of northern Italy in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region, north of Bolzano, near the border with Austria. Along with Marzemino, it is a descendant of Teroldego, and related to Syrah, Pinot noir and Dureza.
The name suggests its origins lie in the Lagarina valley of Trentino. It was mentioned as early as in the 17th century, in records of the Muri Benedictine monastery near Bolzan
This red grape variety (aka Lagarino) was mentioned in 17th century documents from the Benedictine monastery of Muri at Gries, now a suburb of Bolzano/Bozen, though much older documents reveal that it was already growing here many centuries earlier.
The name suggests it originated in the Val Lagarina, a valley basin to the south of Trento in the former Italian Tyrol, where it is now only seldom encountered there. Lagrein is traditionally popular as a rosé wine (‘Lagrein Kretzer’) though in recent years the red or ‘dark’ (‘dunkel’) version has come to symbolise fine red wine from South Tyrol as ‘Südtiroler Lagrein’ DOC. Lagrein is also traditionally used in various red wine blends. It is genetically related to the Teroldego variety. Lagrein is probably South Tyrol’s oldest native red grape variety and as such it has become a South Tyrolean speciality not cultivated anywhere else apart from in the neighbouring province of Trento.
Cultivation of Lagrein in Alto Adige usually results in the tannic red wines Lagrein Scuro, or Lagrein Dunkel, or the fragrant rosé wines Lagrein Rosato, or Lagrein Kretzer. In recent years, winemaking techniques have changed, with shortened maceration periods and used oak to achieve less aggressive flavours.
Follows, by region, a list of all DOC and DOCG is allowed where the use of this vine.
Trentino Alto Adige
Alto Adige - 95 to 100% (or Lagrein Lagrein Dunkel), 20 to 80% (or Merlot-Cabernet Lagrein Lagrein), 00 to 10% (sub-Colli di Bolzano and Santa Maddalena)
Casteller - 00 ÷ 20%
Kalterer or Caldaro - 00 ÷ 15%
Trentino - 00 ÷ 70% (pink), 00 to 100% (Sorni red), 85 to 100% (with the name of the vine)
Valdadige - 00 ÷ 70% (pink or red), 00 ÷ 30% (Sub Terra dei Forti)
Outside Italy’s Alto Aldige region, the variety is rare to the point of obscurity. In Australia it is limited to some 15 producers, mostly in the cooler parts of the south-eastern states, although most are still at the trial-block stage and are yet to release wines labelled as Lagrein or as Lagrein blends. There are some plantings of the vine in California as well, mostly in small vineyards or blocks; almost all this production goes to blending. There is an additional production vineyard in the Umpqua AVA (Oregon) which has five acres planted
Lagrein was pioneered in Australia by Dr. Peter May of Melbourne University’s Burnley Campus who discovered a couple of vines in the "vine library" of the Australian Government research organisation (CSIRO) at Merbein in northeast Victoria, and in part influenced by research by Drs Richard Smart and Peter Dry, planted the variety in his garden-sized vineyard at Kyneton in 1988. He later provided cuttings and advice to a number of Victorian producers.
Producers in South Australia have propagated cuttings from mother vines grown in the South Australian Government facility at Nuriootpa, and it is possible that these are a different cultivar from that grown by Peter May in Victoria. From the small number of producers and the descriptions of plantings available on their respective websites, the total area of Lagrein cultivated in Australia is likely to be less than 50 hectares (120 acres), compared with approximately 43,000 hectares (110,000 acres) of Shiraz/Syrah.
Viticulture and winemaking
The variety is ferociously vigorous, with drooping canes and a tendency to grow lateral shoots, making canopy management a key issue in cooler areas. It is a generous yielding variety, so overcropping can also be a problem. In the Peter May/Victoria cultivar at least, the variety is deeply coloured, tannic and has very good acidity at ripeness. Unusually, even the free run juice is tannic.
Lagrein produces wine which has high acidity and low pH, and is also highly tannic, which is why blending with less tannic varietals works so well. As a single varietal wine, Lagrein can be extremely astringent. To manage this, winemakers give the wine long periods of barrel maturation (>18 months) or for younger fresher wines, pre-fine the juice to remove tannins before fermentation. Lagrein produces a very deep yet intense red color in wine, with notable hues of purple which can be seen especially in the macerated juice. The variety typically shows a rich berry-fruit mid palate, savoury tobacco/leather/mushroom notes and some sour cherry astringency on the finish.
Lagrein is impressive in colour, very dark ruby, often almost black, with violet reflexes in its youth. It is an extremely full-bodied, strong wine with a typical aroma of violets, vanilla, bilberry and blackberry, positively bitter on the palate, smooth and velvety with sweet tannins, elegant and concentrated without any of the toughness which characterises many serious Italian red wines. Lagrein can be laid down for 4 to 5 years, very concentrated wines much longer.Served cool it is an excellent accompaniment for local South Tyrolean fare, especially venison, game, red meats and seasoned cheeses. Lagrein rosé (‘Kretzer’) is pale red to ruby in colour, fresh and fruity, tangy, often with a light ‘spritz’. It is best enjoyed young but will keep well for up to 2 years. Served lightly chilled Lagrein Kretzer is delicious with full-flavoured first courses, platters of cold cuts and cheese, and smoked fish; it also ideal as an aperitif wine or for social drinking
The name has given rise to several times the impression that its origin could be the Val Lagarina (Marzotto, 1925), in fact there is evidence dating back to the sixteenth century that tell of the existence of this red grape variety in Alto Adige. It 'almost certainly comes from Lagar Lagrein, a colony of Magna Graecia famous for its wine Lagaritanos .Of this variety are particularly popular two biotypes that are distinguished by their different shape and size of the cluster: cluster Lagrein Lagrein short and long grapes with different characteristics. Typical areas where it is grown, the Lagrein wine that is obtained with two types: pink ( Kretzer ) and dark ( Dunkel ).
Environmental and cultural characteristics and needs:
She leaves middle, pentagonal, three-lobed; cluster average, tending to pyramidal, short and stocky, with a two-wing, rather compact; berry medium, large and ovoid with thick waxy skin, blue-black very homogeneous. Production has adequate but not always constant is raised mainly by pruning long pergola.
Diseases and adversity:
Particularly sensitive to the mites, it tolerates fairly rot, can sometimes be subject to attacks by pests of downy mildew and powdery mildew .