December Wine Letter - How South Tyrol wines and dines at the end of the year

with sparkling wines, festive feasting and noble wines
>Anserem elixum calidum ex iure frigido Apiciano: teres piper, ….. < was written by Apicius, the most famous gourmet and chef of the ancient world. The recipe roughly translates as follows: "(for goose): Hot cooked goose with cold sauce à la Apicius: bursts of pepper, lovage, coriander seeds, mint and garden rue, add liquamen and a little oil and then season. Dry the hot goose with a clean linen cloth, pour on the sauce and dish up." And so indeed, the time has come to enjoy roast goose or duck not only in South Tyrolean households and in the best inns, but also in the best hotels like VINUM Hotels South Tyrol!

Roast goose and roast duck demand a really good wine. Namely, a red wine that has good structure, strength and acidity in order to stand up to this poultry meat rich in fat. With the glistening, ruby red Merlot "Brenntal" 2015 our roast goose or roast duck learns to walk: In the nose, we have the typical Merlot scent with hints of red fruits such as cherries and raspberries. Othmar Donà, cellarman at the Kurtatsch Winery, is in raptures when he talks about his prime Merlot vineyard location: "Brenntal borders the northern foothills of the mighty limestone massif upon which Kurtatsch sits enthroned. A tightly woven fabric of water veins, guides the mineral salts of the mountains below the clayey soil of the plain from three directions. Lime and porphyry gravel soils ensure optimal, natural drainage. These salts, which are carried by the water from great heights into the hot valley, lend the Merlot "Brenntal" its Alpine character: the fresh minerality vibrates intensively on the palate, the fragrant herbaceous aromas recall above-the-tree-line vegetation.”

But there is no celebration without a South Tyrolean sparkling wine which is primarily committed to the classic method of bottle fermentation, internationally known as "méthode champenoise" after the French model. Hence the noble Alpine pearls in a glass, like in the phenomenal mountain sparkling wine "Comitissa" by Lorenz Martini. "Life should be celebrated! This vintage sparkling wine "Comitissa" is drier than dry and quite deliberately contains minimal dosage thus demonstrating the perfect interplay between man, climate and soil.

The cold season is also the best time to revive Tyrolean classics such as meat roulades! Creative South Tyrolean chefs use the shoulder portion to the more effortfully deboned oxtail meat to roll wafer-thin slices of beef around imaginative winter vegetable fillings! In this way, granny’s classic leftover cooking is transformed into adventurous, very modern dishes with gusto!

The perfect wine with a winter roulade: Pinot Grigio "Anger", vintage 2016, St. Michael-Eppan Winery

Or: Pinot Grigio "St. Valentin", vintage 2016, St. Michael-Eppan Winery

Hans Terzer is a cellarman from another time (within the business, he is respectfully called "Schaffer!" or “chief” according to an old tradition) and who, with his spectacularly fruity wines has shown the young cellarmen of South Tyrol a new direction in which our wines need to develop. Among the wonderful St. Michael Winery assortment there are of course, "louder", "more high-pitched" wines than these two top Pinot Grigios - but firstly, both harmonise their creamy glaze and typical mineral notes of Eppan white wines with fine autumn roulades from Sarntal. And secondly: when nobody or only very few believed in the potential of this grape variety, Hans Terzer with his ostentatious "St. Valentin" Pinot Grigio showed that if one grants this vine the very best locations, then this otherwise often cumbersome, underestimated white wine can be as explosive as a ballet dancer.
The VINUM-Hotel - January Wine Letter:
"Splendid sweetness from small bottles" – The internationally renowned South Tyrolean dessert wines

Up until 15 to 20 years ago, South Tyrol was certainly not known as a dessert wine great on the global wine scene. However, with the general upswing of South Tyrolean wines, now a certain dessert wine pride has also emerged. Most cellarmen leave the grapes on the vine for a bit longer & harvest them at the end of October/beginning of November in order to let them dry out for even longer in airy places & crates. This results in a classic "passito" or a “Trockenbeeren-Auslese” – a medium to full body dessert wine. Very sweet, but usually also: very good to irresistible - especially if served with a blue cheese (Gorgonzola Naturale; Roquefort etc.). The wine letter in January is dedicated to these wonderful South Tyrolean dessert wines which slumber in all VINUM Hotels South Tyrol like cellar treasures awaiting the curious as well as the experienced wine aficionado. Cheers! Santé! To your health!