Are certainly not the first person to settle the border charm, to those places that are – by their very nature – as if suspended between two cultures, two languages, two different ways of living. A charm which in Italy have so many places, especially in Northern Italy for obvious reasons: from Valle d'Aosta to Friuli Venezia Giulia, via Liguria, Piedmont and obviously South Tyrol. And in Tyrol have been few weeks ago and I got confirmation – in my journey along the WeinStrasse, the wine route – how complex the border place. South Tyrol is a corner of Italy in which the measure of things is almost always extreme. The rapidity of the streams, the winds, Sudden rains, inclines, the same wines from South Tyrol, the joint effort of producers to pursue quality defying the rugged hills with rows ranging between 200 and more than a thousand meters. In the province of Bolzano, it produces less than 1% of the entire Italian wine but more than 95% is a designation of origin, and here there is very little space for products that are not good. The Alto Adige Wine Consortium ensure the quality of products. The year 2015 was one of the best in the last thirty years. But talk about South Tyrol also means talking about nature – amazing rich – of a cuisine that focuses on innovation and quality, of traditions and customs that reflect the so recent affiliation of those lands to Austria.
My path along the Wine Road begins in Eisacktal, near Bressanone, from Cellar Convent of the Abbey of Neustift, I stole my heart. Established in 1142 by Augustinian monks and now a meeting place for pilgrims and tourists, Abbey is prayer center, meditation and training for young people: enter the courtyard shaded by trees in bloom, where the view extends in a medieval context perfectly preserved up to the vineyards (are the northernmost vineyards of Italy and delayed growth of three weeks than the average because of the special microclimate of the place)) that climb on the slopes, is an experience that I recommend you really don't miss. Urban Von Klebelsberg, who oversees the activities, has the task of keeping the ranks of what happens here that for a thousand years is a reference point for Italians, Austrians, German and Swiss. A syncretism that has given rise to a culture that is still palpable. The Abbey owns Woods, land, vineyards, a Convention Center, that allow this place to have an energy and economic autonomy. Inside, also a wine bar and a tavern, In addition to an original Bavarian Baroque church, dedicated to Santa Margherita, a cloister, a garden with over 70 species of plants and a beautiful 18th-century library, recently restored, It contains medieval texts and not just that they are a joy for those who, like me, He did his classical studies. I'm used, beyond the beautiful facilities, is the air you breathe inside the Abbey which makes it a rare and precious jewel. You must try the wines produced in the Abbey: the 70% are white and my favorite was the Praepositus Kerner, a wine from the vine (highly resistant to cold than those places) that gives hints of citrus, with hints of mango, Apricot, white pepper and Green Apple.
After the perfection of the Abbey of Neustift I donated another experience that I will remember and I recommend you do if you find around here: a dinner at the gourmet restaurant Des Alpes Bad Schoergau, where Egon Heiss starred chef creates light modern dishes with local and traditional ingredients and raw materials, with a focus on aesthetics. For the full review of the restaurant, I refer to the article that you find here but in the meantime I tell you that the cuisine of this young chef (just 34 years), It is mild and well balanced. The restaurant has just 15 seats, so the attention of the wait staff and kitchen is cured in every detail: both tasting menus, a traditional style and an innovative, and both are characterized by a swirl of small sfiziose courses that prepare to those main: fried quail eggs, Goose liver ice cream, butters (amazing that mountain pine bath), sweet and savory waffles topped with sophisticated and complex. All this played a wise balance between local ingredients, the lightness, the taste and color. Honorable mention for the foie gras with a variation of green apples and dessert, cream and yoghurt mousse, rhubarb compote and sweet retelling of a typical, a cooked milk cream in the oven with a thin layer above brioche. In addition to the Des Alpes restaurant you can dine in the bistro located on the veranda, with a magnificent view of the valley and the green, where traditional dishes are offered (imperdibili i Kaiserschmarren). The prices are absolutely competitive, both starred restaurant (80-90 Euros per person for the tasting menu) both on the veranda Bistro.
Via Portici, Piazza Walther, Piazza delle Erbe. Walking through the streets of Bolzano, South Tyrolean town with a hundred thousand inhabitants, It is like walking through the pages of a history book. Surrounded by the Dolomites, the city performs sharply and proud of its Bavarian traditions and the streets have an atmosphere mitteleuropean. At the same time, though, there is also an air of Mediterranean that is counterbalanced, giving the city great charm. The palaces in soft or painted colors, Gothic details of some monuments, the turquoise sky with the mountains as a backdrop make Bolzano poetic. Cathedral, the diocesan level, definitely worth a visit, with its austere appearance is one of the best examples of Gothic style. Do not miss the wine door, decorated with bas-reliefs that recall the ancient right of the parish serving. And do not forget to visit the church of the Franciscans, with frescoes dating back to Giotto's pupils. In Lauben, are the most ancient buildings and historical shops, while Piazza delle Erbe (also described by Goethe) It is the commercial heart, with market stalls and local delicacies: a riot of colors and scents among historic buildings of great elegance.
Where to stay in Bolzano? I chose a hotel that is an institution: the Parkhotel Laurin. Over 110 years of history for this property in the center which has a magnificent garden, lush, with a little house hidden in the forest that hides a gym, a pool, large rooms overlooking the green and decorated with ceramics and paintings by contemporary artists. An atmosphere of yesteryear, Belle Epoque, which finds its highest point in Laurin's bars, a sort of pub decorated by Bruno Goldschmidt reminiscent halls smoke of British pubs elegant late nineteenth century. Good breakfast, most voted to savory than sweet, served in the dining room and the porch outside: friendly and perfectly selected staff serves scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, cheese, the delicious local bread, fruits and juices. The hotel also has a restaurant where the chef, obviously a lover of seafood, also interprets the local culinary tradition with good results although still perfectible, especially from the aesthetic point of view.
There is so much modernity in Cantina Tramin, Termeno. Its profile dominates the underlying valley and the 270 hectares vineyards offer one of the most good Gewurztraminer (I have a weakness for this wine): il Nussbaumer. Here a part of the vineyards are cultivated with organic methods, a model to which they are looking more and more producers of South Tyrol. The Kellermeister Sturz Willy still remembers when 30 years ago the Gewurtz was sold in containers of one liter. In thirty years, things have changed. Today Tramin has more than 35 labels that are sold for a good 20% directly from the winery, conceived as a place open to visitors. The most charming general manager, Wolfgang Klotz, that as a good South Tyrolean love the sea just like me that are Sicilian: the passion for his work is so obvious that it can only become contagious.
If you visit the winery Tramin, I suggest you make a stop at restaurant and Taberna Romani resort, a magnificent building dating from the fourteenth century, carefully restored. Between light and light stones There are a few nice rooms and apartments where the warmth of wood is combined with antique furniture. In the kitchen there is Armin, that has a happy hand is in combining ingredients and flavors, both in the aesthetics of the dish: vegetables are the main protagonists of the spring menu, from beetroot with asparagus and artichokes, in unusual and challenging pairings such as red beets with cod fish or calf's head with spring vegetables.
When you enter from Franz Haas, in the small town of Mountain, it soon becomes to be in a special place, to which the owner has managed to give a strong personal stamp. Primum movens of this winery is in fact the personality of Franz, counter winemaker, eccentric and brave, which he continued the footsteps of his father and his relatives, in a company founded in 1880. Its labels, made by an artist who also collaborated with the great Picasso, They do not arouse curiosity purely aesthetic but they are the calling card of products to be appreciated for its elegance and the tenacious pursuit of perfumes. This producer of South Tyrol, precise and Pinot Noir lover, cultivates its vineyards to a height of 1,150 meters, It produces a rare Moscato Rosa (20,000 bottles), that smells of cinnamon, roses and berries, the wine I preferred during tasting. Eclectic and artistic temperament, Franz has created a beautiful tasting room and is working on an expansion of the cellar: He wants to live up to 120 years and has a lot of projects still to be realized.
Bolzano and South Tyrol have a very distinctive culinary tradition, much closer to the cuisine of Central and Northern Europe and Mediterranean. Many products and raw materials that are worth taking home: First the local bread. Seed Rich (cumin, fennel, Sunflower, poppy), with wholemeal flour, with apples and walnuts, cranberry and chocolate, or simply pretzels, South Tyrol has a tradition of respect panaria. Do not miss the bakery Franziskaner (the oven is open since 1974), the oldest of Bolzano, which today has several offices and branches. For lovers of bread there is to lose your head. Yet, put in basket white asparagus of Terlano, some’ Gray cheese (Graukaese) being careful to smell pretty strong, the famous local wurst, speck, the dumplings and spaetzle (now they sell them even vacuum). If you are passing along the Wine Road and see that you are in a local festival, try asking the strauben: are delicious pancakes served with stewed red currants, and addictive.
A Girlan on the Wine Route, in the modern Cantina Colterenzio, You realize the importance of the work of a large winery with hundreds of partners working to get the best from the territory. Over thirty different labels that represent the entire range of South Tyrolean wines. I was able to taste someone directly from the barrels where refined Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Riesling and many others, under the watchful eye of the sympathetic president Max Niedermayr, owner Black house, a wine estate of over 400 years, which it is also a farm and a farm. Wine is something that changes constantly, Man's ability to identify the best time to bottle it. A Colterenzio know it well, and despite the large amounts of grapes are vinified singles matches to get elegant and fine wines, with an eye to environmental sustainability: half of the cellar energy consumption comes from renewable sources.
At dinner you could stop at Locanda del Cervo, run by three sisters (It is also the inn with rooms) to sample some typical dish (with particular attention to the fifth quarter) but revisited with little creat, such as trout terrine and green apple (really good). Inevitable dumplings, in the spring served with a rich diced asparagus, abundant (It is a warning) seconds: Venison stew, animelle, head pork. The concept is simple, rustic and warm and Dolomite views that can be enjoyed from San Genesio worth the visit.
Elena Walch Alto Adige is synonymous with modernity and premium wines. Thanks to a terraced vineyard at 360 meters in height, with constant exposure to the south, and meticulous winemaking methods, produces one of the best Gewurztraminer South Tyrol, il Kastelaz (15,8 degrees of pure pleasure, I assure you). The young Karoline Walch greets me with two eyes as blue as the sky and an infectious smile in the beautiful and modern tasting room, formed within the ancestral palace. He tells how the wine here is a family affair. lei, which is the fourth generation, proudly shows ancient casks in his cellar living with a wine-making facility for red wines among the most advanced in Italy. La Cantina Walch and its owners are visionaries: look at the sky and clouds and their essence is contained in Beyond the Clouds, a Chardonnay valuable that refines in bottles inside a silver mine at 2000 meters above sea level and at a constant temperature of 7 degrees. An extreme experimentation that gives this wine's ability to age more slowly than the others and with more grace. But the projects are not limited to wine: the family castle, Castel Ringberg, overlooking the street from the wine, surrounded by vineyards single largest body of South Tyrol, It works at a restaurant that reflects the family vocation, This balance between tradition and modernity that much I liked.
Caldaro It stands for Slave (German Vernatsch), the old red grape variety in the province of Bolzano. Caldaro is also lake area. Wines from the lake, reads the slogan of the Cellar: Wine Lake. Around it revolve 400 manufacturers, which will become 800 by merging with neighboring cellar Erste&New. Be born the largest cooperative in South Tyrol, a wine giant from 3,5 million bottles. Slave (a modern red, drinkable, easily matched), Pinot Blanc, Cabernet, Yellow Muscat, Sauvignon: these are the excellences, together with other, make up the range of products. And so for the Kaltern winery, who at the time of Franz Joseph he became the official supplier of the court of Vienna, open up new growth prospects. The Director Tobias Zingerle and young winemakers Andrea Moser, Gerhard Sanin will have much work to do, especially seeing that the two very short wine experts will leave for a trip in tandem from Caldaro in Capri to bring up and down Italy their symbol wine, the Kalterersee, and make it known to the general public.
In your journey I recommend you find the time to go on San Vigilio hill, hiking paradise, but also of gourmet. A short but exciting cable car ride, the second oldest in Europe, with a view of Merano, drive past the resort Vigilius, that is creative upscale restaurant in the evening, but also Stube with tasty dishes, well presented, abundant and fair price. The wooden hall with a distinctive blue tiled stove, or on the terrace in front of the breathtaking scenery of the Dolomites, Enjoy vegetable creams depending on the season, a great rabbit, homemade cakes and the legendary Kaiserschmarren, a kind of sweet and soft pancakes accompanied by fruit compotes (the portion for one person is more than enough for 4). Then, to digest, take a stroll along the paths among trees and Tyrolean wooden chalet (Heidi warned it could tick with his goats suddenly). If you are really you sports you can take the chairlift to go up a little’ higher and admire the Dolomites in all their glory.
Hans Terzer, one of the most important winemakers in South Tyrol who is credited to have believed in the mid-eighties to white wines as a great resource for the area, It was my Cicero exceptional tour in the charming cellar in the historic San Michele Appiano. Built in 1907 in the Austrian style,like a small fortress, It preserves in its underground ancient heart barrels reproducing the figure in relief of Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria. Sign of a prestigious past and a symbol of a present as rosy, as St. Michael Eppan currently exports around the world, It employs 40 employees, It brings together 340 members and invoice 18 million euro a year, one of which is derived from direct sales, the wine shop that tells how a wine museum and the territory. And here, as well as Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon o Lagrein, It makes a special wine: Marcus, a selection of the best white grapes, personally supervised by Hans Kellermeister Terzer, that make up a cuvée exceptional, produced only in the best years.
In South Tyrol you can not eat at least once in a farm, and I would suggest the meat Foehrner, documented for the first time in 1335: while you eat the dishes Karin, you can admire the sky, the mountain, Bolzano, Oltradige and Lowlands. If you want to stay 'light’ you can choose the typical 'snack’ South Tyrol: Speck, smoked sausages, cheese and bread. If you prefer more substantial dishes are potato tortelli, i canederli, the dumplings, The beef cheek, asparagus and horseradish with cooked ham. And then the frozen desserts and homemade cakes, plus Kaiserschmarren and other Tyrolean delicacies.
In Eisacktal, the young Hannes Baumgartner in his Strasserhof It makes only white wines. Seven labels for accuracy. All well done and above all sold. Its wines (dal Kerner al Muller Thurgau, dal Veltliner al Sylvaner) reflect the freshness of climates of these zones, where the vineyards at high altitude offer products in balance between acidity and alcohol. Hannes is a proud promoter of its territory and this is known by its courage to invest in the most difficult wines despite being a small producer. In his cellar, leading with his dad, He likes to experiment. The excellent workmanship and Sylvaner, Kerner. The farm is one of the oldest in the Isarco Valley, and in the oldest part dates from the twelfth century. I'm used’ Also a farm and a traditional restaurant. From its rooms, It offers an exceptional view over the vineyards that dominate Bressanone and Varna Novacella, with its abbey.
Finally I suggest a gastropub typical Tyrolean cuisine, Hubenbauer: the food is hearty, with little attention to aesthetics and presentation of the dishes, hearty and rustic. Excellent quality of the 'Tyrolean snack', with meats, cheese, Pickles. The beers are homemade, as well as ice cream (here too attentive to the portions, they are huge). A table will come dumplings, ravioli, Mezzelune, vegetable soups, grilling, rustic omelettes: It is the typical place to eat informally among friends drinking beer and listening to some’ good live music.