Were Italy literally a boot, Trentino-Alto Adige would be my favorite area (upper rear thigh..). As a wine region it has gone from curiosity to 'must-explore' in my book. Each of Italy's numerous wine denominazione is indeed unique. Yet this alpine frontier captures my imagination like no other.
Trentino-Alto Adige, is in fact two separate areas - hence the hyphen. Alto Adige, also called Südtirol (just off the tip of Austria's Tyrol), is the region's northern half, which also makes it Italy's northernmost wine region. The local culture is a gemisch of German and Italian. The wines are made from a diverse bag of native grapes, Germanic grapes and French grapes (e.g. Schiava, Müller-Thurgau, Merlot). To accommodate its grape diversity, Alto Adige vineyards range from 650 to 3,300 feet (200-1,000m) [World Atlas of Wine, 5th ed]. Most vineyards are located in the Adige valley, while the mountain goat vineyards are located in the Isarco Valley.
Fun fact: The village of Tramin is located here, which is supposedly where Gewurztraminer garnered 3 syllables of its 5-syllable name (-Traminer = from Tramin).
On to Trentino...
Trentino is south of A.A., it's less mountainous and forms a trident-like three river split at the city of Trento (hence the name, which in ancient Rome was called Tridentum). Trentino is well known for two unique red varietals: Marzemino and Teroldego Rotoliano. Marzemino gained fame from Mozart's Don Goivanni ("Giá la mensa preparata"). Teroldego is more common. It can produce inky-colored wines with berrylicous scents and flavors, along with a little food-friendly zip.
Trentino also offers some nifty white wines. Nosiola, is this region's indigenous white grape. It produces a tart, crisp dry white and also contributes to the more famous, more rare sweet wine, Trentino Vin Santo.
Fun fact: While Napoleon was acting out his, err, complex, and conquering Europe in the late 1700s, he took a miraculous right turn at Trento, thus sparing the folks further north in Alto Adige from his issues. This is commemorated by the holiday, "Sacro Cuore."
I've noticed, at least in my neck of the woods, that wine from Trentino-A.A. is becoming more common. Give it a try, there are lots of tasty vinos to be discovered from this region. Two that I've recently sampled are:
Hopefully you lurking Trentino-Alto Adige enthusiasts out there will offer up some wine suggestions in the comments section. What about it Terry of Mondosapore (update: Terry recommends Foradori - a Teroldego-based red from Elisabetta Foradori) Aristide? Care to recommend a few?