Merano Wine Festival

We arrived late to Merano and, in the morning, woke to this spectacular view.

Merano is a beautiful town, nestled in the valley basin alongside the Passer river and the surrounding mountains rise to over 3000 metres. This is Italy, but not as we know it. It’s what is fascinating about this country, in a few hours driving you can move from Venice to Verona to Merano and the changes are significant. Not just the scenery – everything: history, food, wine, culture, people. Try doing that at home – Melbourne to Ballarat to Horsham doesnt quite have the same ring to it.

We’re here for the Merano Wine Festival, billed as Italy’s most prestigious. It’s my first time and a refreshing change from the madness of Vinitaly. This is much, much smaller and entry to the wineries is invite only via a tasting panel. The panel selects two wines to put on tasting, although most wineries bring a couple more. Held in the beautiful Kurhaus, day 1 was packed despite the entry fee of 80 euro. I thought that might be a good way to keep out the wankers and largely it was, although I stood next to a guy who reached over me, grabbed a magnum of A. Conterno Barolo Romirasco 2006 (one of the best wines we tasted) and proceeded to pour himself a full glass. Imagine that by the glass in Sydney, about $200 worth.

The format is simple, purchase a glass (refundable) and off you go. Because appointments are unnecessary, the fair has a more casual feel to it. We hit ‘our’ wineries first and spent the afternoon on a tasting tour of anything and everything else. Highlights (of wines we don’t import) were a pair of Giacosa Barbaresco Red Label Riserva’s (04 & 07), Fontodi Flaccianello 07, Albino Rocca Barbaresco Bric Ronchi Riserva o4, Villa Cafaggio San Martino 06, Poggio di Sotto Brunello Riserva 04 and Marisa Cuomo’s Furore Bianco Fiorduva 08.

We also met Alessandro Masnaghetti, a really nice guy. Alessandro has lovingly and patiently mapped the crus of Barolo and Barbaresco and, more recently, the communes of Chianti Classico. His maps are a must have resource for deciphering the crus and vineyards in these regions. Jancis Robinson.com has a great article on Alessandro, click here to read.

There were a few more highlights, but you’ll have to wait for them to appear in our portfolio next year!