By Gina Trippi
Tired of Beaujolais for Thanksgiving? Me too. The thinking is that the gamay grape is so versatile that the wine pairs with everything. And it does. But it’s not the only one. Consider schiava, the Italian grape from Alto Adige, a valley in the Alps.
The Thanksgiving table is changing. Many are choosing meat-free dinners for reasons that include environmental concerns, animal welfare, and diet and health. So, now the table might be set with all of the traditional dishes along with tofu, tempeh and seitan. Let’s go where your table may never have gone before and give Beaujolais the boot this year. Be unpredictable amidst all of this tradition and go schiava!
Schiava is a light-bodied red wine that, benefiting from the cooler climate of origin, has a lower alcohol content of about 12 percent. A lovely pale ruby trending toward a deep pink in the glass, schiava opens the show with aromas of rose, potpourri, strawberry and raspberry. You might also detect violets and a whiff of almonds. The optimal temperature is 54 to 57 degrees, but schiava can handle a more hefty chill if you are so inclined.
The varietal is grown in the high-altitude junction between France, Italy and Germany and, as a result, has several country-specific synonyms. Preferring shade, schiava grapes are trained with a pergola trellis system. As the vines stretch up the criss-cross of the trellis, the grapes stay off the ground and vines are allowed to grow tall. The trellis improves sunlight exposure and air movement.
A dry version from Alois Lageder presents characteristic strawberry and raspberry framed by mild tannins and highlighted by notes of orange zest and smoke. But why, you might ask, serve Lageder for Thanksgiving? It’s all about the way this wine is made.
Add to the natural dynamics of this grape the fact that the Lageder family makes a stunning version of schiava farming organically and biodynamically. “We are committed to the biodynamic agriculture which respects human beings, animals and the natural cycles and incorporates them into our work,” says Alois Lageder.
Biodynamics is from the Greek bios, meaning life, and dinamikos, meaning movement. The philosophy behind this practice is that a farm is an enclosed microcosm containing a variety of plants and animals. A vineyard is, likewise, a closed system involving soil, plants and nature.
For us, as consumers, this means that they work without chemicals, herbicides, insecticides and mineral fertilizers, while relying on natural sources including groundcover plants, to enrich the soil. The Lageder family sees the vineyard as a living organism working off of the cycles and rhythms of nature: specifically, the sun, the moon and the stars.
What could be more perfect for Thanksgiving than a wine that truly encompasses so much for which we are grateful?
Gina Trippi is the co-owner of Metro Wines, 169 Charlotte Street, in Asheville. Committed to the community, Metro Wines offers big-shop selection with small-shop service. Gina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828.575.9525.