The Abbazia di Novacella was established in 1142 as part of the Augustinian convent, that still today remains one of most important religious and cultural centres in central Europe, and is also the site of one of Europe’s deepest medieval libraries.
The Augustinian Canons Regular monastery of Neustift is located in Valle Isarco, the northern-most winegrowing region on the southern side of the Alps. The mineral-rich soils, the elevated position of 1,970 ft – 2,950 ft, and the cool climate are all factors which explain the intense aromas and flavours. These geographical features also account for the fruity, mouth-watering acidity present in their wines, produced from the typical white Eisack Valley ('Valle Isarco' in Italian) grape varieties. The working Abbey, that is simultaneaously a winery and boarding school, displays Gothic architecture which contrasts uniquely with the serried ranks of gleaming stainless steel.
The most widely-grown vines in their vineyards, located around Varna just north of Bressanone, are Sylvaner, Kerner, Gewürztraminer and Veltliner. The monastery also owns vineyards in the warm central region of South Tyrol which supply the red grapes. They include the full-bodied, savoury Lagrein from the Mariaheim vineyard in Bolzano, and red wines from the Marklhof estate in the cool Cornaiano hills, south of Bolzano, where the grapes are harvested, crushed and the wines are matured.
Novacella’s Kerner and Sylvaner are particularly good, true world-class examples of these varieties; the Kerner is an aromatic white wine which has become a specialty of Valle Isarco. On the nose there is clear evidence of apple and peach fruit with a hint of mango, whilst the palate is ripe and the opulence of this wine is cut by crisp acidity. Aromatic varietals are aged in large oak and acacia barrels, while the top red wines are all aged in 255 litres barriques. The top quality wines are part of the Praepositus line, and offer a more concentrated version of the deliciously fresh entry level wines made here.