If you haven’t heard of Teroldego (quick pronunciation lesson: the accent goes on the second syllable—teh-ROHL-deh-go), an intensely colored red grape variety from the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Northern Italy, not one person in America would raise an eyebrow. Not that anybody ever should raise an eyebrow when it comes to wine knowledge, or lack thereof. That’s the fun part, isn’t it? Learning and trying new things. And that’s exactly how the grape wound up on Long Island in the first place.
“As my wine preferences have evolved over the decades I’ve found myself leaning towards elegant over powerful red wines as they complement rather than overwhelm the meal,” says Russell Hearn, the winemaker, and co-owner with his wife, Susan, of Suhru Wines. “This led me to further exploration of Italian wines, specifically wines from the northern Alto Adige region, where I happened upon Teroldego.”
The grape’s tendency toward both deep color and hearty tannic structure make it seem like it would be a whopper in the glass, but instead it offers both sturdy presence and freshness—bright fruit, zesty acidity, and a juiciness that’s like a breeze on a warm day. And for those reasons, Hearn keeps it out of the barrel, instead choosing to let this grape’s incredible structure and food-friendly nature just be. When he discovered a plot of Teroldego on a vineyard in Southold formerly owned and planted by winemaker Regan Meador, he grabbed some.
“This variety is known for fruit-forward, expressive wines with elegant tannin structure. Teroldgeo does not benefit from extended barrel aging, so can be bottled and released earlier than most of our other red wines and is an early ripener, which is a huge asset in our region where hurricanes have been known to decimate later harvesting varieties,” says Hearn. “For all these reasons and more, when we discovered Teroldego planted on the North Fork we jumped on it and have enjoyed watching our guests fall in love with it.”
True to its nature (in Alto Adige or here), the 2021 Suhru Teroldego is a deep, inky electric-ruby in your glass, and smells of dense, brambly blackberry and some juicy blueberry, fresh and dried tarragon and thyme, and a fascinating hum of graphite, running like a mysterious underground stream beneath the surface. For all its depth and drying, tannic finish, it hits your mouth with a juicy, medium-light body that still manages to be concentrated.
“Teroldego is such a unique wine, one that we often refer to as an oxymoron grape as it is incredibly dark pigmented and therefore one of the more opaque wines we make,” says Shelby Hearn Ulrich, General Manager for Suhru and daughter of Russell and Susan. “However, [it’s] also our lightest bodied red wine. It’s a fantastic wine to have on a tasting menu and to be able to share with guests in our Tasting House because it’s such a fun conversation starter. Those conversations and opportunities to provide a peek behind the scenes, a little extra context and background on a wine, share some of my favorite food and wine pairing recommendations—those are my favorite parts of my day.”
If you’re intrigued, you’ll have to ask your favorite wine shop to bring it in—no South Fork shops currently carry this special little red, far as we know. But in the immediate, you can order it for delivery from Suhru directly.