2021 Franz Gojer, St. Magdalener Classico
2021 Franz Gojer, St. Magdalener Classico

2021 Franz Gojer, St. Magdalener Classico

Alto Adige, Italy 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$36.00

2021 Franz Gojer, St. Magdalener Classico

Anyone remember Julie Andrews twirling and singing in a mountain meadow during “The Sound of Music”? That’s the way you feel when you take your first sip of St. Magdalener. If the reference escapes you, let’s put it in wine terms: This is a silky, juicy, slightly spicy red from Italy’s Dolomites, a classic regional wine as interpreted by one of the region’s best modern producers. Franz Gojer is indeed one of the most respected winemakers in the Alto Adige, or Südtirol—the German-speaking province that was once part of Austria—and St. Magdalener is a calling-card wine. Crafted from the local grapes Schiava and Lagrein, St. Magdalener is the kind of wine you find on the “Interesting Reds” section of the wine list—the kind of wine a sommelier would order when dining out—and this is a best-in-class example. It’s a pretty simple choice, really: Drink something generic and forgettable, or drink this.

To the Austrians, the Südtirol (South Tyrol) was a relatively warm terroir better suited to red wines, and even today, despite the region’s success with aromatic whites, reds are still a big part of the picture. German is the first language here, as the region, annexed by Italy after the First World War, was once part of the larger Tyrol province of Austria. Street signs (and wine labels) are printed in both German and Italian, and the food and architecture hardly fit the classic ‘Italian’ stereotype. Walled in by the Alps and Dolomites, the Adige River valley is a broad, sun-drenched basin that receives a daily blast of warm air coming off Lake Garda to the south. Soils closest to the river are gravel and sand (which inspired many producers to plant ‘Bordeaux’ varieties), becoming rockier and more morainic (i.e. left by the retreat of glaciers) as you climb upward. The most-planted red variety is Schiava (Vernatsch in German), which is naturally light in both color and body, with brambly, forest-floor aromas mingling with bright red fruits. It’s amazing how perfectly suited Schiava reds are to their place: They’re a bright, easy-drinking counterpart to often-heavy, German-accented food and the perfect refresher after a day of hiking or skiing.

Gojer's estate, called Glögglhof, is right in the middle of the St. Magdalena hill, a perfect amphitheater just northeast of the city of Bolzano. This hillside is known for its morainic soils, which are rich in minerals like quartz and porphyry, and some of Gojer’s vineyard parcels here date to the 1970s. In a region known for its abundance of winemaking cooperatives, Gojer is one of the best-known, and most respected, independent producers in the region: He’s especially well-known for concentrated, complex reds from the Lagrein variety, but this Schiava-dominated St. Magdalener is itself a “destination wine”: It is pure and precise, offering an incredible combination of easy-drinking refreshment and sneaky complexity.

In the glass, this tank-aged 2021 is a deep, reflective ruby moving to pink/magenta at the rim, with some blue/black fruit notes from the Lagrein (5%) lending a bass note to an otherwise bright, spicy mix of raspberry, wild strawberry, plum, underbrush, violet, a touch of mint, bitter chocolate, and leather. Tannins are very soft and the acidity is fresh but not piercing: it lands gently and gracefully on the palate, and finishes with a slightly peppery, savory flourish. It hints at a variety of great lighter-weight reds—Cru Beaujolais; Poulsard from the Jura—while marching to the beat of its own drum, and it’s styled to drink young: No need to lay this down or decant it, just pull the cork and don’t be surprised when the bottle empties quickly. We like reds like this a little cooler, 55-60 degrees, and the versatility it offers at a barbecue is unparalleled—whether it’s ribs, burgers, steaks, bbq chicken, your trusty St. Magdalener stands at the ready. Enjoy!

2021 Franz Gojer, St. Magdalener Classico

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