After a peaceful night’s sleep just 2km away from the De Stefani winery, we set off for the mountains and Alto Adige. We changed passengers in each of the cars en route as apparently listening to Jason for two hours is the fastest way to get a migraine and that it would just be plane cruel to subject the same people to his chat for a further three hours drive.
Now I know the Italians have a small reputation as being slightly crazy when it comes to driving but this still did not prepare us for what came next. The amount of times I saw Jason and his happy car load of oblivious guests nearly get squashed by an irate Italian truck driver made the initial drive towards Verona exciting to say the least. However as we turned further north the traffic eased and the near death experiences became fewer. At the same time the mountains rose up to meet us and the fantastic weather showed them in all their majesty.
We eventually arrived in the picturesque town of Tramin (this is the home of the Gewürztraminer grape variety – Gewurzt meaning spicy – hence the spicy wine of Tramin) after a small detour. Apparently Jason’s inner pigeon was not working and then “sally sat nav” took us all to the wrong town. Anyway we finally found our way to Elena Walch and Armin was by the gate to welcome us.
We started our visit with a look round the cellars of Elena Walch, and as you can see from the photos this is a great experience because the cellars are housed in an old monastery.
The cellars are split up into about six different rooms and each cellar is used for a particular wine. We quickly began to understand the heritage of this wine estate with the hand carved ends to the barrels to celebrate landmark vintages and people from the estate. This said, they are producing wines in a totally sustainable way now and are happy to embrace new technology when it works for them.
We headed back outside to taste the wines and have some light lunch looking over the valley at the beautiful snow capped mountains in the distance. We tasted a wide range of wines but for me the stand out wines where the Gewürztraminer Kastelaz, Beyond the Clouds, Karmesse and the Cashmere Passito Moscato Rosso. All these wines clearly showed the fantastic quality of the estate.
So we then headed off to go and look at Walch’s two key single vineyards. We started at Kastelaz which is just five minutes outside the town on a steep south facing slope.
The gradient of this vineyard is something to experience and rivals many vineyards from the Mosel for its sheer steepness. After this we headed to the largest single vineyard in the Alto Adige Castel Ringberg.
The castle is still there and is now a very fine restaurant and is well worth the visit as it has amazing food and a glorious view of the mountains and lake in the valley.
We sadly then had to head for home but it was a fantastic experience and a great trip was had by all.
Written by Johnny Paterson, London Trade Sales