Santa Maddalena

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Santa Maddalena, known as St Magdelener by the many German speakers who make and drink it, was historically the most famous wine of alto adige in north east Italy. (In an Italian government classification of 1941, it was for political purposes ranked after Barolo and Barbaresco as the country’s most significant wine, a rating which would be unlikely to be repeated today.) An official subzone, and therefore suffix, of the enormous Alto Adige doc, it takes its name from the hill of Santa Maddalena to the north of the city of Bolzano (Bozen), long considered a particularly suitable site for the cultivation of the schiava (Vernatsch) grape from which the wine is made. Since the late 20th century this light red wine has become so unfashionable that its total vineyard area has shrunk from 456 ha in 1978 to 220 ha in 2011 with an average yield of 76.2 hl/ha—much lower than the 12.5 tonnes per ha (close to 90 hl/ha) allowed by law. The production regulations decree a minimum 85% Schiava (no distinction being made between the three Schiavas). About 5% of the deep-coloured lagrein is routinely blended to give this pale speciality a deeper shade of red.