Brunnenhof-Mazzon: Pinot Noir from the rock of Mazzon

Two hundred million year-old stratified rock is the secret to the fresh but velvety Pinot Noir made in Mazzon 400 meters (1300 feet) up on the eastern slope of the Adige River Valley. Here the grape variety is known by either its Italian name, Pinot Nero, or its German one, Blauburgunder (blue grape of Burgundy).

Looking north toward the Alps and the Austrian border, it’s hard to imagine that this piece of land was once a coral reef under the sea. But if seeing isn’t believing, then tasting is because the compressed fossilized shells give the Pinot Nero a crisp, fresh minerality that is quite distinctive.

In this video, Kurt Rottensteiner of Brunnenhof-Mazon, shows the rock in his cellar.

He goes on to explain in another one that even though the rock gives all the Pinot Nero of this area similar aromas and flavors, each vintner in Mazzon makes a distinctive version of his/her own. It all depends on when they harvest, at what altitude the vines are, how long they leave the wine in wood casks, whether the wood is new or old, and so on. This is “terroir” at its best.

On the day I visited, Kurt and I roamed the organic vineyards he has owned since 1987 before we ever went down in the cellar. He has converted 90% of his vines to trellis or “guyot” training to yield higher quality grapes in lower quantity.
guyot

But he has kept one small plot planted with the old-fashioned “pergola” method as a nod to tradition and history.
pergola3

Using that system, farmers used to grow their vines above wide rows that were planted with other crops. Kurt experiments with that and also with using sheep as grass mowers. We tried to call the sheep over but on that warm, fall afternoon, they were down on the job, basking in the sun.

sheep

Brunnenhof-Mazzon, the name winery/farm means House (Hof) of the Fountain (Brunnen) in the town of Mazzon. The ancient spring-fed fountain sits prominently in the yard…

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…next to this bench where I photographed Kurt and his wife, Joanna. Making wine for them is a family affair that includes their two children, Eva and Johann.

Kurt named his white wine made from the local Manzoni Bianco grape after Eva: Brunnenhof-Mazzon Eva Sudtirol/Alto Adige IGT . Fresh, dry and and full of the crisp minerality of the rock of Mazzon, it’s a 14%, structured white, a good pairing for local cheeses, fresh fish and soup and pasta dishes. ($20)
eva

The flagship wine (20,000 out of the total 30,000 produced) is Kurt’s Brunnenhof-Mazzon Blauburgunder Riserva Sudtirol/Alto Adige DOC. His style is a precise, elegant, “vertical” wine, not one that explodes in your mouth with fruit flavors. It is not overbearing. As Kurt says, “I want it to leave you with the feeling that you would like another glass.” And, in this, he succeeds brilliantly. ($35-40)

blauburgunder

Every vintage is also a little different, he explained:
2009: an optimal, balanced year.
2010: a fresh vintage with a lot of minerality
2011: a hotter year that produced a more intense, fruity wine
2012: a softer vintage
2014: a wine with more freshness (acidity) and less structure

This is wine that can be drunk now but that will mellow and harmonize into great wine with time (10-15 years).

Brunnenhof-Mazzon wines are unfortunately difficult if not impossible to find in the US. (On Wine Searcher)

Read more about Alto Adige on the data base and in my recent post about the Castle Tyrol.

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