A few months ago I visited the simply stunning wine region of Alto Adige, Italy or Südtirol if you are one of the many German speaking inhabitants of the area. I fell in love. Every green and lush landscape was beautiful, every vineyard was lavish and inviting, and every person was welcoming and gracious. And the wine….oh, the delicious wine.
The food was hearty, lots of sausage and cured Speck ham with bread dumplings, or Knödel as it known locally, with butter based sauces. Each dish pairing perfectly with the mineral rich, high acid and very fresh white wines of the region, like Pinot Bianco, Gruner Veltliner, Sylvaner, and a dozen more, as well as the Schiava and Lagrein reds of Alto Adige.
One dish in particular sent me over the moon, this light and airy yet decadently rich and complex soup, paired with a fruit filled, elegant white from the region shows how elevated simple dishes can be when made with love. Traditionally the soup, often served in a large bread bowl as pictured above, is paired with Pinot Bianco, a white wine that often is a bit flabby and uninteresting, however in Alto Adige, with its high elevations, diurnal temperature swings and steep sloping hillsides, the perfect conditions are created to grow interesting and aromatic white that are elevated with distinct character and flavor.
For my dinner, however, we did a little experiment, making this dish for friends at a dinner party with the goal to show how special Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige is. Though often overly fruit forward and overly juicy when produced in other regions, Alto Adige Pinot Grigio blends steely minerality and bright acidity with herbal and floral notes, along with just the right amount of juicy fruit layers to create an interesting wine in the best possible way. We paired one from J Hoffstater, a producer that also made my favorite Pinot Noir from the trip filled with ripe berry and cherry flavors with just a hint of earthiness and spice notes.
Light, delicious, and subtle for such a hearty looking soup. Paired with the wine and croutons, it’s rather amazing.
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