Wine of the Week: Abbazia di Novacella, Praepositus, Kerner 2020 | Valle Isarco, Alto Adige, Italy

By Dirk Smits

Kerner | March 21, 2022

Located in the sleepy little commune of Novacella, in the Isarco River Valley in Northern Italy, Abbazia di Novacella was founded in 1142 by the Augustinian Order of Canons Regular. The Augustians are not monks in the sense that you may be familiar with: they have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to their superiors, but they also work to support themselves as a part of their community. To this end, the abbey not only grows grapes for winemaking, but also farms apples and vegetables, and there is a small school devoted primarily to studies of viticulture. The abbey’s reputation as a winery is stellar and international.

The estate has long been known for producing world-class white wines with a tremendous price/quality ratio. The white grape vineyards are in the town of Novacella, surrounding the abbey, while the red grapes grow farther south. Schiava and Pinot Noir are planted near Lago di Caldaro, and Lagrein is planted near Bolzano. The production comes from a total of 192 acres. The abbey owns 15 acres near the winery in Novacella, as well as 36 acres at their Marklhof estate near Bolzano. For the rest of the production, they work with over 50 small growers in the region.

The soil in the vineyards is mainly granitic schist, created by ancient glaciers; and the vineyards are quite steep. In the Isarco Valley, vines do not live much longer than 30 years, and the yields are miniscule naturally, producing wines that are aromatic, fresh, and rich. Though it is one of the oldest wineries in the world with over 850 years of winemaking experience, the cellar is entirely modern.

The Praepositus line represents the absolute best expression of Abbazia’s vineyards. They are not single-vineyard wines, but selections of the best fruit from the best sites.

The Kerner grape is a crossing of Trollinger and Riesling, bred in 1969 in Württemberg, Germany, and named after a local poet, Justinius Kerner. Compared with Riesling, it can grow in sites with less favorable conditions and guarantees a higher yield. It ripens later than Müller-Thurgau but earlier than Riesling. The wines are fresh, racy and fruity — not unlike Riesling — yet milder in acidity, with a more pronounced bouquet, often with a Muscat tone.

Origin: Valle Isarco, Alto Adige. Italy
Varietals: 100% Kerner
Sustainability: sustainable practices
Suggested retail price: $29.00
ABV: 14%

The wine has a golden yellow color with green reflections. It opens with aromas of ripe yellow stone fruit, fresh herbs, orange zest and a touch of spice. The palate has a great depth of flavor, including pear, stone fruit, Muscat, spice and flinty mineral finishing with crisp acidity.

Suggested food pairings: charcuterie, fish, seafood pasta, poultry, veal, pork, spicy Asian, Thai green curry, Chinese sweet and sour, onion tart, cheeses.

> For more information, visit the Abbazia di Novacella official website.