Abbazia di Novacella, located at 1,800 feet above sea level in the Isarco Valley of the Alto Adige region, is Italy's northernmost winery, specializing in cool-climate white wines, many of which are made from grapes of Germanic origin. The Abbey was founded in 1142 by the Augustinian order of monks. Unlike other orders, such as the Benedictines, Augustinian monks are a 'working' more than a contemplative order, without the required vows of silence. The reigning Abbot is always in charge of Abbazia di Novacella. The hamlet of Novacella lies just north of Bressanone, the major town in northern Alto Adige, and a short distance south of the Brenner Pass and the Austrian border. On the premises is a college for 100 boys (and a handful of girls) who are studying viticulture and winemaking, among other subjects. There are currently 26 Augustinian monks at Abbazia di Novacella, eight on the premises, 18 working away from the Abbazia, along with 100 lay workers, 60 full-time. The Abbazia also has a choir and a convention center. But the most striking room in the Abbazia di Novacella is its incredibly beautiful library, with huge books handwritten by monks, dating back to the 1100s. The farm produces all sorts of fruits and vegetables, but the two major crops are wine grapes and apples. Abbazia di Novacella has three major vineyard areas: the valley around the abbey itself, where white varieties grow, and two vineyard areas in southern Alto Adige: one around Lago di Caldaro, where the red Schiava and Pinot Noir grow, and one near Bolzano, the warmest area, where the red Lagrein grows. The moronic nature of the soil is particularly suitable to grow aromatic white grapes like: Sylvaner, Muller Thurgau, Veltiner, Kerner and Gewurztraminer. The vines grow in a cool continental climate. All of its varietal white wines carry the DOC appellation, 'Alto Adige Valle Isarco.' The soil around Abbazia di Novacella is mainly granitic schist, created by ancient glaciers; the hill slopes where the vines grow are very steep. In climate and soil such as this, vines last only about twenty years, less than half of a vine's normal life in more temperate climates. The rugged soil and extreme climate produce small amounts of white wines that are aromatic, fresh, and rich, with high extract contents. The modern stainless steel equipment of the cellar contrasts with the antiquity of the Abbey but is perfect to store and enhance the typical freshness of these white wines. Abbazia di Novacella has two lines of wines, its standard, or classic line, and its premium line, called Praepositus, made with a selection of the best grapes.
The 2010 Sylvaner Praepositus fills out in all directions with layers of expressive varietal fruit. Freshly cut flowers, succulent yellow peaches and petrol, are some of the notes that come to life in this vivid, articulate white. A layered, mineral-infused finish lends considerable energy and focus. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2014. #199Feb 2012
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