On the trail of Marzemino, the cosmopolitan wine
In the footsteps of 17th-century noble travellers
Trentino is the very heart of Europe! Don’t believe us? Take a map and stick a pin in it. See? It marks the halfway point between north and south. History offers further proof: verdant Vallagarina, to the south of the city of Trento, spent decades as the meeting place between the Republic of Venice and Tyrol.
Noble travellers on their Grand Tour in the 17th century were well aware of this region as an unmissable European destination: travelling from the north towards the Mediterranean, they would eagerly anticipate a stay in the settlements of Rovereto, Calliano, Villa Lagarina, Isera, Ala and Avio, considered the gateways to Italy.
From the Caucasus to Trentino, because this is the place to be!
Have you ever noticed that Italian travel destinations are always associated with their own particular wine? Well, the undisputed champion in Vallagarina is the wonderful and delicate Marzemino, the star of many travellers’ tales in the 1700s. Even Lorenzo Da Ponte, the librettist who composed the verses for Don Giovanni, set to music by Mozart, mentions it in this famous opera: “Pour the wine! Excellent Marzemino!” sings the protagonist.
Excellent and elegant indeed, the Marzemino of today is a modern red wine with an intense colour, an aroma of sweet violets and spices, with an alcohol content that’s never excessively high but always sophisticated and easy-going.
Yet the origins of this quintessential Trentino wine, which so bewitched travellers from the north, lie elsewhere. Who would ever have imagined? An in-depth genetic study of this grape variety led back to the fertile Caucasus plains, from where it spread over the centuries to Greece and the islands of Cyprus, Lefkada and Cephalonia, before setting down roots definitively in the Vallagarina countryside, thanks to the Venetians who brought it here.
In the wineries of noble Marzemino
Spring and autumn are the perfect times to plan your weekend seeking out the picturesque places that tell the tale of noble Marzemino. Crossing the valley from north to south, just like those eighteenth-century travellers, you have the chance to stop in at the Grigoletti family company in Nomi. Here, you can experience the true passion for winemaking, visiting the well-tended vineyard and a winery which has been enhanced over the years to offer visitors a fine welcome.
Don’t forget to explore the Ziresi wine region on the slopes to the left of the valley: in Volano, you can meet another of Trentino’s wine-producing families, the Raffaelli of Maso Salengo. Winemakers since the early 1900s, they are proud to produce Marzemino in this special subregion, where the clay-rich nature of the land makes it particularly smooth and well structured.
In the municipality of Isera, the nerve centre of Marzemino production, you will enjoy a visit to the Casa del Vino della Vallagarina in the eighteenth-century Palazzo de Probizer. In its well-stocked wine bar you can sample and purchase all the Marzemino wines from the area, or even stay overnight in the charming B&B and try dishes from its famous kitchen.
Isera is also the home of the well-known Cantina d’Isera, the cooperative that flies the flag for Marzemino: its 150 winemaking members tend the vines in the valley, whose soil has a basalt content unique in all Trentino and which brings an extraordinary aromatic quality to the wine. A stop at this beautiful winery and its well-supplied wine shop is a must.
Next, you may decide to continue your visit by heading to the Mori Colli Zugna cooperative in the municipality of the same name: its 600 winemaking members process grapes from vineyards stretching from Valle dell’Adige all the way up the slopes of Monte Baldo. You can try different variations of these wines in the highly distinctive underground winery built in 2011, a rare example of sustainable architecture.
Heading back down south along the left-hand slope of this valley, you might stop off in one of the region’s best-known organic enterprises: at Vallarom, owned by the Scienza family and offering a panoramic view, you will find yourself immersed in the country-chic atmosphere of their elegant B&B, sipping their Marzemino before the very vineyard where it is grown.
Fancy following in the footsteps of 17th-century noble travellers? There are landscapes to be painted, symphonies to be composed, novels awaiting your inspiration… and, of course, exquisite wines just waiting to be sampled.