From: Alto Adige, Italy
Taste: The 2021 Manni Nössing Sylvaner, Südtirol Eisacktaler DOC, is an Alpine beauty. Its luminescent straw hue gives way to an aroma of delicate orchard fruits - ripe pears and crisp green apples - subtly underscored by hints of fragrant herbs and fresh mountain flowers. This wine balances a bracing Alpine freshness on the palate with an elegant mineral crispness. High-altitude acidity brings structure and verve to the developed fruit flavors, while subtle herbaceous notes add complexity. The finish is long and clean, leaving a lingering impression of purity and freshness that echoes the terroir of Alto Adige.
Pairing: Pair the 2021 Manni Nössing Sylvaner with light and flavorful dishes to complement its vibrant freshness and delicate fruit notes. It pairs brilliantly with various seafood, especially white fish or shellfish prepared poached, fried, baked, or grilled (see Sam Sifton’s recipe for Cod Cakes below), where its acidity and minerality can enhance its oceanic quiddity. The wine's herbal notes harmonize beautifully with dishes featuring fresh herbs or mild green vegetables like zucchini. Try it with Südtirol's speck (smoked ham) and mountain cheeses for a regional pairing. Lastly, it also beautifully complements lightly-spiced Asian dishes, where its crispness and aromatic complexity can balance out the diverse flavors.
By Sam Sifton
About. Alto Adige, or Südtirol, is a geographical chameleon. A melange of Italian and German culture, it flits between the dual identities with an endearing fluidity. A stroll through its streets, with the Germanic signboards and menu cards offering a taste of its unique fusion cuisine, might make you forget you're still in Italy.
Nestled in the heart of Bressanone (also known as Brixen), less than twenty miles from Austria, Manni Nössing commands a small yet celebrated winery. Manni's wines are a testament to the formidable power of the Dolomite mountains, where his vineyards find their home. The climate and steep glacial slopes of the Valle Isarco, northeast of Bolzano, nourish his vineyards and allow for the creation of his aromatic whites.
Manni, a farmer's offspring, doesn't boast of formal viticulture or enology training. Instead, he attributes his knowledge to learning from each vintage, aspiring to produce wines that gratify the senses and echo their terroir. His winemaking journey gained momentum in 2000 when he decided to bottle his wine instead of selling it to a nearby co-op. Today, Manni's holdings span 5 hectares of hillside vineyards, planted with an array of grapes, including Kerner, Grüner Veltliner, Müller Thurgau, Riesling, Sylvaner, and Gewürztraminer.
While the Alto Adige climate poses challenges, Manni's primary concern is the sun. Despite cold, snowy winters, the region's summers can be scorching, causing the grapes to bask in sunlight for prolonged periods. Manni is keen on creating 'drinkable' wines; for that, he believes acidity is vital. Manni has lately ceased green harvesting and de-leafing to achieve the balance he desires, protecting his grapes from excessive sun exposure.
In the cellar, Manni's reverence for terroir manifests in his winemaking process. Stainless steel tanks are used for vinification to retain the grapes' delicate aromas, with 50% of the Veltliner benefiting from time spent in neutral acacia barrels (only his Grüner Veltliner receives this treatment). Eight months on the lees result in richness and texture that elevate the wines before they are bottled.
The end product is an array of wines offering an exquisite balance of drinkability, finesse, and complexity—a beautiful homage to the pristine Alpine beauty of Alto Adige.
A typical vine from Manni Nössing undergoes Guyot training, and the grapes are hand-harvested, then carefully placed in 200-kilo crates, and swiftly transported to the winery within 30 minutes. The process involves destemming, gentle pressing, and settling for 24-48 hours. Notably, none of his wines undergo malolactic fermentation.
Steeped in the rich culture and terrain of Südtirol, Manni Nössing's Sylvaner embodies the region's heart and soul. It is more than just 'racy'—a purveyor of purity, an alpine waterway in a bottle. From less than half a hectare at 660-700m, the Sylvaner emerges divine, a testament to the vision and resilience of Manni Nössing. A wine that's proud to declare, "I am from Alto Adige."
As Anthony Lynch so aptly puts it, Manni's Sylvaner from high in the Dolomites is "a finely channeled mountain breeze, an exercise in textural delicacy that will leave your palate tingling with the sensation of crispy minerals." Ian d'Agata of Vinous goes further, labeling Manni Nössing as "one of Italy's most talented winemakers.”
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