So Long Joe Dressner, Thanks For Everything

By now you probably have heard that Joe Dressner passed away after a long fight with brain cancer.  Of course you know Joe is responsible for Louis/Dressner Selections, an importer that brings in natural wines from small, independent vignerons throughout the world.  Most of the wines that have been discussed on this blog are in fact Louis/Dressner wines.  They are quite special, Joe Dressner was special, he will be missed.

Thankfully the culture of wine, especially his kinds of wines will carry on.  To salute the man I had to check in a few of my favorite wines from his portfolio.Here are a couple of wines from the most northern part of Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige.  The area butts up against Austria and Switzerland and is surrounded by the Rhaetian Alps and the Dolomite mountains.  The region has only been part of Italy since the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire after World War 1 and is split into two different cultural areas.  Italian speaking Trentino in the south more associates themselves with Italian heritage, the food is similar to what you would find in the Veneto, a lot of polenta and pasta with an even more heavy emphasis on butter and cream.  You will also find wild game, mushrooms and salt-cured beef.  The German speaking northern Alto Adige (Südtirol as the locals know it) has a more Austrian background, you will find wurst, cabbage, rye bread and buckwheat noodles and of course their greatest contribution Speck.

The Nusserhof estate, run by Elda & Heinrich Nusser, exists on 2.5 hectares within the city of Bolzano.  The steep and difficult to work vineyards are situated in an unusually warm area.  The wines produced have a ripe and concentrated character due to low yields from healthy, organically grown grapes.

(2007) Heinrich Mayr Nusserhof Blatterle. $25.

Blatterle is an indigenous varietal that was nearly extinct (who is knocking down doors to drink Blatterle?).  Traditionally it was made into a sweet dessert wine, this example is bone dry.  The wine is labeled as Vino da Tavola.  By Italian law the vintage can’t be shown but it is identified by the last two digits of the lot number, look for the L07.  By all accounts this wine should have been consumed a few years ago but I was curious to see how it was holding up.  Surprisingly it had a lot of creamy richness to it, not much going on aromatically but the wine picked up a lot of weight in it’s time in the bottle.  The usual apple and pear fruit profile has dropped off and transformed into a salty, mineral thing.  Still very enjoyable, and very different.

2005 Heinrich Mayr Nusserhof Lagrein Riserva. $35.

Lagrein is also an indigenous grape of semi-ancient origins and generally has a clumsy, woodsy tannic structure along with low acidity. Not the case with Nusserhof’s.  The Lagrein Riserva was showing nicely.  It is round and rich, bright and savory, like the oily essence of fresh espresso mixed with black, inky fruit.  This is a wine for mountain men.  Evidently this wine can age magnificently, the bottle I opened was just getting started.  One whiff of its chocolatey, earthy and fresh herbed bouquet you will be in love.“Weingut” is German for wine farm.  Wine labels from Alto Adige are mostly in German.

 Check your back labels for importer information.  If you see the “Louis/Dressner” name it means the wine is going to be something special and unique.  Thank you Joe Dressner for bringing these types of wines to all of us.

“The Natural Wine Movement is not a movement with a leader, credo and principles. If you think there is a Natural Wine Movement sweeping the world, triumphantly slaying industrial wineries and taking no hostages, then you are one delusional wine drinker. The Natural Wine Movement thinks that you might want to lessen your alcohol consumption for a few months.”

Joe Dressner, 2010

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