Schiava

Schiava is the Italian term for a number of undistinguished, albeit, ubiquitous red wine grape varieties that also go by the name of Vernatsch in the Germanic Italian region of Alto Adige, or Südtirol as it is known locally; and as Trollinger in the German zone of Württemberg, where this group of grapes is widely planted. Fittingly, perhaps, Schiava means 'slave', suggesting Slavic origins.

The group consists of Schiava Grossa, which is extremely fecund albeit, incapable of producing wines of any particular character. Its berries are large and the clusters loose. Its light, dilute wines were once prized in the Swiss market although they have fallen out of favour and thus, plantings are in decline.

Schiava Gentile, another clone, allows for superior wines due to lower natural yields and smaller grapes, giving some concentration and structure to its wines. Nevertheless, the most celebrated clone is Tschaggele, which is also the least productive. Tschaggele is capable of producing wines with bright aromas leaning toward sour red fruits and when riper, damson plum.

While it is safe to say that any non-varietal wine from the Trento-Alto Adige is likely to contain some, if not all of these clones among the blend, declining popularity in other markets where Schiava was once enjoyed for its simple drinkability, such as Austria and Germany, means that little of the Schiava group is being replanted.

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