Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Kalern, Sud-Tirol, Italy....and some friendly Germans

I traveled to another northern, cool climate wine region of Italy, Trentino Alto-Adige (TAA). This is a region that may not sound familiar,  but I can almost guarantee that you have had a wine from here or very close by. That wine would be Pinot Grigio. Ring any bells? Back in the liquor stores in Canada I have found Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy dominating the shelves in Canada compared to other varietals from this area. Here is a list of the other grapes you will find in TAA:
White - Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Sauvignon
Red - Vernatsch, Lagrein, Pinot Noir

I have been curious about this area from the beautiful pictures I've seen with the mountain corridor that surrounds it. Also curious to try the clean crisp wines and for the regional history. Alto Adige was formally part of Austria and became apart of Italy after WWI. What came as a surprise to me is how they have held onto their Austrian traditions and language for almost 100 years. The street signs, cuisine, language, clothing (lederhosen and dirndl's) are all still of Austrian heritage. So just after I was getting the hang of speaking Italian pleasantries I had to go back to German.

I was only able to spend about two days and had to make my plans as efficient as possible. In the morning I drove into Bozen and tasted wines from two wineries,  Muri-Gries and Kelleri Bozen. I wanted to visit Muri-Gries since they export their Pinot Grigio to the LCBO. Then located conveniently across the street was Kelleri Bozen. Between these two wineries discovered and tasted varietals that I was not familiar with (reds): Lagrein, Vernatsch, St. Magdalener and Kalterersee Auslese (note: in this case Auslese is not related to an sweetness lever, rather a place of origin). And here is some trivia: What are the synonyms for Vernatsch? Schiava and Trollinger.

For my one night in the region I stayed at Villa Weingarten in Kaltern, which I highly recommend! A lovely B&B with large rooms and the most stunning panoramic views of vineyards and the Dolomites. (Photo from my room below). My plan was to arrive in the early afternoon, park the car, visit some vineyards, wineries and check out the wine festival in the village that evening. I drove in around 2pm and the hotel keeper was chatting with a young couple staying there from Germany. They were speaking in German about wine so I could understand what I was over hearing. The couple's names are Sebastian and Steph and they spoke very good English. We started chatting and within 30 seconds Sebastian invited me to spend the rest of the day with them and his twin brother and girlfriend (Danny and Billy). I thought, for real? Maybe you want to ask your girlfriend or brother? Anyways, when you get a good vibe go with it right? So the four of us ventured off together and went for a quick lunch to get acquainted, then to Erste-Neue winery (fantastic Vernatsch and
Gewurztraminer), dinner and then the Kaltern wine festival with over 20 Kaltern wine producers. I was blown away with how kind and welcoming these 4 were! (And they thought I was in my early 30's, LOL). We hit it off and I think they all enjoyed the chance to practice their English. Plus, Sebastian is an aspiring wine nerd so how can you not get a long:) I have a nice photo of the four of them below and a big thank-you to them for inviting me along and keeping me out past 10pm!

Alto Adige in the North and Trentino in the South

View of Kaltern from my B&B, Villa Weingarten

L to R: Billy, Danny, Steph, Sebastian

Kaltern Wine Festival

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