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Senior editor James Suckling joined Wine Spectator in 1981 and retired in 2010. As European bureau chief, he was based in Tuscany and tasted the wines of Italy, Bordeaux and Port.
James Suckling

A Pinot Noir with Pasta and Pesto

Cantina Tramin Blauburgunder Pinot Nero Alto Adige 2006

James Suckling
Posted: May 4, 2009

I had nothing in the fridge the other night to share with a friend for dinner other than a jar of homemade pesto. I made it last September when the big, bushy basil plants in my courtyard were on their last leg. I ground some leaves up with pine nuts, garlic and local olive oil, and bottled it. So, when I am in need, I just open a little jar and add some freshly ground Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and more olive oil. And "a presto!"

I used some Cipriani pasta, of which I am a great fan. It was the tagliardi, which are small squares of egg pasta. It was yummy with the pesto. Easy. No problems.

I went to my cellar and tried to find something different. I was tired of Nebbiolo after spending the weekend tasting 50 different 2005 Barolos. And Brunellos or other Sangiovese didn't seem to get me excited. I wanted something a little more delicate and easy. I found a Pinot Nero from Alto Adige. Yes. A Pinot Noir from the north of Italy.

The Alto Adige region is best known for beautifully perfumed, fresh whites from such grape varieties as Riesling, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and others. And it makes some serious barrel-fermented Chardonnays. But the reds are less exciting overall, although a few Lagreins are pretty interesting. So I was curious to try the Cantina Tramin Blauburgunder Pinot Nero Alto Adige 2006.

It was fresh and fruity with pretty strawberry and floral aromas and flavors. It was light- to medium-bodied, with bright acidity and a long, clean finish. My friend and I drank the bottle quickly, with lots of enjoyment. 89 points, non-blind, and it costs around $20 a bottle. Plus, the wine came with a glass stopper instead of a cork. No cork, no pain.

WineSpectator.com members: Get more scores and tasting notes for recently rated wines from Alto Adige.

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