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Published: Tuesday, 2/20/2007

Italian region spreads word about its wines

"What's in a bottle, not where the grapes grew, is what counts," a reader complained of a recent column devoted to James Halliday's splendid Wine Atlas of Australia, (324 pages, University of California Press, $45). "I want a choice for Sunday dinner," she wrote.

Of course, she was right. Knowing about sources of good wines is helpful, but the wine at the end of the learning is what matters.

Maybe I can stump you: Alto Adige (ALL-tee AH-dee-jay) is an Alpine-Italian region. It is not widely known because it does not produce much wine, and what little it produces is not a major product in world markets. Most vines are of a single popular variety, Schiava, otherwise known as the Vernatsch, while there are small plantings of Lagrein, Gewuerztraminer, Pinot grigio, and other kinds that survive Alpine altitudes and climates.

Patches of soil along the banks of the Adige River are hospitable to small plantings, but the winemaker must cope with high acids and, at times, scant sugar. The producers have recently banded together to let us Americans know of their distinctive contribution to our import wine list; look for the rhythmic name, Alto Adige.

Have you found the region on a map? The Adige River rises in the Tyrolean Alps, flows through Trent and the Trentino wine region, turns east, and empties into the Adriatic Sea.

A wine tasting focused on Beringer wines is planned from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 28 in Peppercorns, 105 West Fifth St. in Perrysburg. Reservations are required by Feb. 27 and may be made by calling 419-872-6399. Tickets are $22, which includes gratuities.

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