Merano Wine Festival 2014

I was just back up in Alto Adige, this time for the Merano International Wine Festival www.meranowinefestival.com which spanned the wkend from Nov. 7 to 10th. As a wine enthusiast it is hard to pass up since they pre-select the wines presented so basically every wine is worth tasting. But with several hundred producers each with a couple of wines to taste the challenge is to limit your exploration to be sure that you can still stand on your two feet at the end of the day!

The first day started with champagne tasting which was a real treat. Many of the producers had different champagnes try and compare. My favorites were the Millésimé which is when the champagne is produced from grapes from the same vintage year. For example Laurent-Perrier had a 2006 Millésimé that was exceptional.

Then I went onto Tuscan reds and I was particularly excited to see a producer, Cupano, from Montalcino Tuscany and its red wine blend Ombrone that I had wanted to buy at a restaurant the wkend prior but was shyed away due to its high price. The 2006 Ombrone was fantastic, living up to its high price tag (40€), and reminded me fondly of the area it is named after in south western Tuscany where my friends live, farm and produce olive oil and is like the wild west meeting wine country (more to come in a future blog column!).

Fast forwarding to the second day, it was full of interaction with passionate Italian wine producers mainly from the south of Italy. I started with “vertical” tastings of “aglianico” a red grape variety which produces rich and very food friendly wines, and which, by the way, are often available at pocket-book-friendly prices. The producer to win my award for enthusiasm is San Salvatore (www.sansalvadore1988.it) who took us on a journey to his vineyard, explaining history of the Greek influence, and gave us a tasting of an array of mineral-rich whites and robust reds, including a Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) which was an unusual but good pick.

Besides wines there were also Italian food producers with samples of artisanal cured meats, cheeses, olive oils, sweets, and many other treats, each with their own stories and passion to share. So needless to say, my diet starts tomorrow!

Ciao for now

Sheila Donohue

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