It’s getting to be the season… and here in Merano, that means Merano Wine Festival. Yes, this alpine village looks like the perfect setting for Christmas, and even hosts a little Christmas market… But the real action is taking place down at the Kursaal.
Wildly busy, Italian wine producers are sharing their wares with what is obviously a crowd thirsty for more, to know more, to explore more, to taste more.
Flying in, one is reminded that winter is around the corner, and the snow-capped mountain peaks present a lovely contrast with the flowering gardens of this spa town. Because yes, after you have sipped your way through the many rooms of the Kursaal, you can dip into the thermal baths that made Merano famous, and sweat out any toxins that were not swept away by all the antioxidants you got through the wine.
While we all enjoy the come together feel of a great wine festival, the frenzy is sometimes overwhelming. What wine lovers really get excited about is a visit to a winery. So I was lucky that here in Merano, in the midst of this great festival, I also had the opportunity to visit the Eichenstein estate, some 550 meters above Merano. Views galore.
Wilkommen or benvenuti, it doesn’t matter which of this region’s two languages takes precedence. Talking to producers is always fun; their enthusiasm is contagious. This small, boutique winery is producing about 25,000 bottles annually. We sampled their Gloria Dei, a Sauvignon-Pinot Blanc-Chardonnay blend that was named for a rose; a Sauvignon; a Chardonnay and a Chardonnay Reserve; a Merlot-Cabernet Franc blend called Baccara, and a 100% Cabernet Franc. Wow.
The winemaker, Marius Müller, communicated his passion and expertise, and the daughter of the owner, Josef Franz Waldner (called Sepp of the Oberwirt), graciously hosted us during the tour of the winery and tasting.
This is a place to come back to. Like many Italian wine producers today, Eichenstein offers an upscale relais for those seeking full immersion in la dolce vita, complete with infinity pool overlooking the valley and stunning mountain landscape.
So now at least I know where to go when the pressures of tasting the myriad wines of the Merano Wine Festival become too much to bear…