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2019 Teroldego Rotaliano DOC

R Zeni

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When selecting wines from Trentino-Alto Adige we had to include Teroldego.  This native grape has been cultivated in Trentino since the Middle Ages and it's one of the regions most famous red wines.  DNA studies have shown that this grape is an ancestor to other black grape varieties of the region (Marzemino and Lagrein), and other studies have shown its 3rd degree relationship with two of the noblest varieties in the world, Pinot and Syrah.  With relatives like these it's no wonder this grape produces such incredible wines!  You also might recognize the producer, R Zeni, from one of our previous shipments-- our curated Sparkling Wines box.  We also have purchased Zeni's TrentoDOC sparkling rosè.  We loved Zeni's wines so much that having the opportunity to feature them again in our regional Trentino-Alto Adige Shipment was a no brainer!  And in addition to Teroldego Rotaliano we also purchased their white Nosiola

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2019 "Lealbere" Teroldego Rotaliano DOC by R Zeni

Grape:  100% Teroldego

Region:  Trentino (Trentino-Alto Adige)

Tasting Notes:  The wine is a lively, bright ruby red.  Aromas of intense fruity raspberries and blackberries.  In the mouth the wine is dry, full-flavored, full-bodied and well-structured.  Flavors of cranberry, pomegranate, raspberry, along with secondary characteristics of pepper, anise and earth help balance out those juicy notes. 

Recommended Drink Window:  Best now until 2031


Temperature of Service:  60-65° F


Decanting:  We recommend letting this wine open up for at least 30 minutes-1 hour to get the full expression, flavors and aromas.  You can always use a decanter for a faster oxygenation.  However, we enjoy sipping the wine and tasting, little by little, to see how the wine opens up.  As Tommaso likes to say, "the best decanter is your glass".

Teroldego Rotaliano refers both to the grape and wine (a DOC since 1971) from Trentino of Trentino-Alto Adige in northern Italy.  This wine is made entirely from the Teroldego grapes grown on the Campo Rotaliano from Zeni's Lealbere vineyard.

Campo Rotaliano is flat plain of the Adige Valley in northern Trentino.  It sits at the junction between Adige Valley and that of the smaller Noce river, a minor tributary.  This area is considered the "homeland" of the Teroldego variety.  This plain, locat4ed within the villages of Mezzocorona, Mezzolombardo and Grumo San Michele all’Adige, consists of around 450 hectares of vineyards and was originated by the Noce stream on its course towards the Adige river.  In ancient times, the Noce would overflood onto the terrains of the plain covering them with water and mud; such flooding phenomenon gradually created a succession of alluvial deposits that got stratified throughout the course of centuries. 

The unique soil composition (the terroir) was thus created: the upper layer, where the roots grow, consists of limestone sediments the with large contents of carbonate rocks and other minerals. The lower portion of the profile consists of rounded stones and variously sized gravels.  The third layer is groundwater and, more specifically, a deep waterbed where the roots get hydration from.

Additionally, the vertical rock walls that surround and protect the plain significantly influence the accumulation and subsequent dispersion of heat.  The winds created by the convergence of two major valleys – Val di Non and Valle dell’Adige – considerably mitigate the temperature and especially air humidity.

The grape Teroldego is an ancient grape variety and has been cultivated in Italy for thousands of years.  Teroldego's dark skins produce deeply pigmented wines, yet despite its dark color it produces wine with bright, vibrant red fruity character.  It's grown almost nowhere in the world outside the Adige valley, which helps to explain why it has become something of an icon for Trentino's wine industry.


There are multiple theories about the root of the name Teroldego.  Some believe it's an evolution of the German phrase for “gold of Tyrol” (Oro del Tirolo in Italian).  Tyrol is an area of Northern Italy.  Others think the word comes from "tirelle," a vine training system where a wire harness is typically used to support the vines.  Some hypothesize that the name was adapted from Alle Teroldege, an ancient vineyard site in the area where the grape was originally cultivated.  The confusion around the name is partially the result of just how long this variety has been around--  there are documents that show the variety's existence as far back as the 15th century.  Needless to say, Teroldego is a long-standing favorite in northern Italy, and for good reason! 


Zeni's Teroldego grapes, harvested by hand, reach the winery where they are crushed and pumped into vats for fermentation and skin contact.  After about ten days, it’s removed from the vats and, kept warm, malolactic fermentation takes place to ensure natural deacidification. It stands for about six months in steel tanks to maintain the fragrance of the aromas of blackberry and raspberry which are typical of the Teroldego.  The wine is then bottled and after a short standing period, it’s ready to be released and sold.

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The history of the Azienda Agricola Zeni began way back in 1882 when, after considerable effort, the official South Tyrolean representatives of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I finally granted Roberto Zeni a lisence to open an inn near the bridge over the river Adige.  Friends and acquaintances celebrated the occasion, and grandfather Roberto Zeni offered his guests a Teroldego wine obtained from the first grape harvest of their vineyards in the Pini area.  Campo Rotaliano, the cradle of Teroldego, had come into being when Empress Elisabeth of Hapsburg-Lorraine had work carried out to harness the waters of the Adige and Noce rivers thereby creating the ideal terrain for cultivating grapevines.  The war years were hard times for Roberto's successor, Romano, but he carried on and produced Teroldego, Pinot Grigio Ramato, Pinot Nero Rosato, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco wines.  

The activity of the last generation of the Zeni family began around 1973 with his sons, Andrea and Roberto Zeni.  The two brothers, still students at the Enological School of San Michele all'Adige, bottled a small batch of Teroldego Rotaliano, about a thousand bottles, borrowed from their father Romano.  Naturally, these bottles served to satisfy the dry throat of professors, janitors and study colleagues and some wine journalists.

In 1975, after completing their studies, the idea of developing their father's wine business came to fruition and therefore the two brothers founded two new companies: the R. Zeni Azienda Agricola and the Zeni Distilleria.  Their aim was to promote autochthonous varieties, introduce new equipment, and create quality wines and grappas always starting from the origin.  Their ambitious project of “quality over quantity” involved a large commitment in terms of work and organization: agricultural conversion, the modernization of the cellar both as a structure and as equipment. 

Roberto Zeni bought Maso Nero in 1988, an old farmhouse located on the wine route of the Avis hills, a natural window on the nearby Campo Rotaliano. As the old stories would have it, the farm was once inhabited by a gang of thieves and they would start great fires inside, which were sometimes so big that black soot covered the ceiling. From this legend comes the name “Maso Nero”, or black farmhouse, as does the Zeni family’s desire to use it as the name for their Trentodoc wine. 

Today, the winery is always based on the family’s work and it produces around 190.000 bottles obtained from a vineyard area of about 50 acres.  They produce wines from native grapes, as Teroldego and Nosiola, but they are also known for their sparkling wines like Maso Nero Trento DOC Rosè.  We import all three of these wines so that you can enjoy them!

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Overall, this wine is fresh and bright with mild tannins and punchy acidity.  Because of that, it's usually enjoyed relatively young.  The grape's vivid acidity makes this a wonderful wine to pair with food.  Because this wine provides sharpness, you can go big and rich.  Think pierogies with caramelized onions, pasta carbonara, coq au vin, roast game, macaroni and cheese or fried eggplant.

For our recipe pairing we chose a pasta dish that incorporates Speck, a traditional food of the Trentino-Alto Adige region.  We hope you will enjoy the recipe and pairing! 

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