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The Nusserhof estate, consisting of 2.4 hectares of organic vineyards, lies directly beside the Isarco River facing south, practically in the center of the city of Bolzano. The warm climate and the deep alluvial soils, rich in eroded porphyry, make this the perfect place to ripen grapes in northern Italy. Elda & Heinrich Nusser are the latest generation of their family to work this land where the records date back to at least 1788. The Nusserhof gets its name from the hazelnut trees that once lined the house on the river side.
Blatterle (the grape name has two t’s) is an old white varietal, indigenous to the area, which nearly became extinct. The grapes are golden and oval shaped – the name itself means “little leaf” in German. At one time the grape was used to produce either sweet must (to be served with roast chestnuts), or a light white wine for quaffing. The Mayrs produce a more serious wine by reducing yields, soft pressing and temperature controlled fermentations. The Nusserhof Lagrein Riserva undergoes natural yeast fermentation with extended maceration followed by elevage in large Slovenian oak before bottle aging.
Nusserhof is one of the most remarkable estates I have ever visited. Located right in the center of Bolzano, it looks as if this bustling, growing city is literally going to gobble up the estate in any minute. Proprietor Heinrich Mayr has already lost some of his vineyards to the adjacent highway through a claim of eminent domain, something that seems to be a constant struggle here. Within the vineyards, all is calm. The fruit I tasted prior to the 2012 harvest is a testament to just how special this site is. And the wines? Well, they are pretty special, too. Mayr has a way of coaxing unusual richness and power from Schiava for his Elda bottling, while the Lagrein and Teroldego are well worth checking out. Unfortunately, there was no new release of the Elda at the time of my visit, but both the 2009 and 2007 showed very, very well. Lastly, Mayr also makes a rose Lagrein that is compelling. Nusserhof remains one of the stars not just of Alto Adige, but of Italy.