Lagrein is Alto Adige’s finest local red variety, making flavourful and fruit-intense midweight reds from the Alpine Italian region, where bright sunshine and cold nights bring freshness and flavour. Australia is arguably lagrein’s second home, with few plantings in Italy outside its home region and even fewer around the world.
Also known as
Lagrein has no notable synonyms.
What lagrein tastes like
One of Italy’s more fruit-intense red varieties, lagrein’s flavour often sit in the darker fruit spectrum with plummy and dark cherry/berry notes, though the wines are rarely rich or overtly sweet-fruited, with generally assertive but not overly drying tannins.
Vineyard & winemaking
Lagrein needs ample sunshine to ripen, but it also prefers cooler nights to retain acidity, which can be lost easily in warmer climes. It is a variety that buds late, so generally avoids frost issues, but can ripen late in colder regions, making it a little more marginal. It does, however, achieve great flavour intensity at relatively low sugar levels and therefore finished alcohol. Lagrein can be made in a brighter and fresher mould but equally can be made into denser and more structured wines that will accommodate oak ageing.
Where is lagrein grown?
Alto Adige’s Südtirol, in Italy’s north-west, is Lagrein’s home territory, accounting for 97 per cent of the 650 or so hectares in the country. The region’s most planted local red grape is schiava at more than double that modest concentration, but lagrein makes the more profound wines. While schiava often produces light to midweight expressions, lagrein tends to make more intense and characterful wines. Having said that, schiava was given precedence historically, so many areas that are ideally suited to lagrein are planted to schiava. With tastes changing, Lagrein is gathering a little more momentum and being planted in sunnier and warmer sites in the cool elevated region, which it requires to achieve full ripeness.
Lagrein around the world
There are modest plantings of Lagrein in California as well as Oregon, with the latter seen as a strong climatic fit for the variety.
Lagrein in Australia
Lagrein in Australia is synonymous with Cobaw Ridge in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges. In 1993, Alan and Nelly Cooper grafted over some vines they had planted in 1985 to the Italian grape, and since then have led the charge for the variety, consistently making Australia’s most notable example since their first commercial vintage in 1998. The variety has had a gradual upward trajectory, with it finding favourable homes in the Adelaide Hills and on the Limestone Coast, while plantings in McLaren Vale have also proved successful. Lagrein has also been planted in South Australia’s Riverland, but it is not quite as climate apt as many of the Southern Italian varieties that have found favour there. In warmer areas, lagrein is often used as a blending component.
Some of the best Australian lagrein
Architects of Wine
Handcrafted by Geoff Hardy