Easter between the apple blossoms

As we are travelling with kids, we always try to find a holiday destination where we hope our kids will find their happiness… if the kids are happy that basically means that the parents have a more relaxing holiday 😉 finding a spot like this is another thing. A region that checks most of the boxes is Alto Adige (aka Süd Tirol) as not only is it well-known for it child-friendliness, its fresh/healthy air, the fact that it is sunny for more then 300 days a year, but also for its good food and for having some of the best white wines of Italy. The only check-box that didn’t get checked is the closeness of the sea (my wife loves to have the sea close)… but then again the region has lots of lakes where swimming is allowed and there is also something called a swimming pool 😊 😊 so basically all boxes are checked.

Something I always found intriguing is the fact that in Alto Adige the most spoken language is German (but everybody does also speak Italian). For me the region is the perfect mix of Austria and Italy.

To find an actual accommodation we called in the help of “Red Rooster” (aka Gallo Rosso, Roter Hahn). Red Rooster is the ‘tourist office’ of  the Farmer’s Union of South Tyrol for farms offering Farm Holidays in South Tyrol.  What I found good about Red Rooster’s way of working or choice of accommodation, the fact there is something for everybody and for every budget. I mean I’m personally  not too much into animals, my preference went for wine/fruit growing farms and also I ( or better we) prefer having an apartment (this way we have the option to cook), we do like a bit of  extra comfort, etc… and luckily all of these things are search filters.

My wife always finds it funny that I start planning our summer holiday that much in advance (about 8-10 months in advance). I actually didn’t start that early when we didn’t have kids, but ever since we have to go on holiday in the high season it seems that even that early is not early enough for some regions…  For a few years in a row I tried to find a free accommodation in Alto Adige, but without success. That is why this year I decided to try another holiday period. Luckily for us with success 😊

I’m pretty sure all of you think we chose a vineyard 😊 but noooooooo sir, we stayed at an apple farm that goes under the name of “Grieserhof” and is located in Nals (12km from Bolzano).  The Mathà family, who owns “Grieserhof” has been growing apples in Nals (or Nalles) for a few generations. It was in 2016 they decided to renovate their house (that dates back to the Middle Ages)  with respect for tradition, but also adding some modern architectural touches to the building. This resulted in creating 4 beautiful 2 floor apartments where they only made use of very qualitative materials to make sure they give the maximum comfort to their guests.  With the below as (for me well accomplished) result

From the moment you arrive at “Grieserhof” you immediately feel at home. First of all because of the warm welcome you get from Judith and her family, but also because of the good vibe that hangs in/around “Grieserhof”.  When my kids saw there is a whole floor full of toys (and books), an outside playground and a rabbit to pet… they couldn’t wait to ditch us 😊 😊 so we also got their blessing for the location/accommodation  😊

A very handy ‘tool’ in the Süd-Tirol region is the “winepass” you get (in most farms you find via Red Rooster). This pass allows you to take the train for free in the region, enter museums, visit vineyards, visit the many castles in the region or use cableways in the region mostly for free or at reduced price. You can actually see it as a tool to discover all the hidden treasures in the region. One day (a rainy day) we used it to visit the miniature train museum aka Mondo Treni that was fun for the kids as they cold push on buttons to start the trains, but also for adults it is very nice to see. As they rebuild (in scale models of course) the most important parts of the region. Very impressive!

Something I didn’t know is that the village next to ours, Terlano, is very known for white asparagus… as it happens both me and my wife a very big asparagus lovers. And as if  if faith wanted it, the season for eating them already started😊 . It was Judith (our host and who also happened to be a food/wine lover)  to advise us a very nice (child proof) restaurant called Oberspeiser. The advantage about eating in a restaurant in Italy it that it never takes too much time… not that me and my wife don’t enjoy a longer dinner, but kids are like a ticking timebomb 😊 😊 they’ll stay quiet for a while, but they might exploded any minute 😉 . We really enjoyed our meal at Oberspeiser. Perfectly cooked asparagus with a few slices of local cooked ham and accompanied with a Sauvignon by the Terlan winery that only gets bottled during the asparagus season and fits perfect with this white gold and also is sold under the name “Sauvignon Asparagus” 😊

Two places (next to the many wonderful farms where you can eat or top restaurants) I also recommend you to visit and/or even have a meal there is “Pür” or “Italy & Amore”. Both these restaurants have a similar approach they both sell products bought directly from the growers/farmers, with difference that “Pür” focusses on products from Süd-Tirol and “Italy & Amore” products from all over Italy. You can also eat at both locations as buy products. I enjoyed both of them and didn’t leave empty handed 😊

As I had already put a lot of time in the organization of the ‘Best Sommelier of the world” contest, I promised my wife I wouldn’t be visiting any vineyards during our stay in Süd-Tirol. I kept this promise 😊 but I just happened to pass 2 vineyards (Cantina Terlano and Margreid Nals) while doing some errands while my son was taking a nap, my daughter was playing and my wife was reading at the apartment… and I needed to stretch my legs. In my defense, it were very shore visits and they were insisting for me to try some of their wines 😉 😉 . Both very nice vineyards and worth visiting and I’m a big fan of both their wines. Hope you get the chance to visit them or at least taste their wines.

I can only advice you guys to travel to Alto Adige and make use of the “Red Rooster” website or just go to “Grieserhof”.

Cheers!

Cork vs. screw cap with Franz Haas

Wineries, no matter how long they are already existing, are always trying to improve themselves  . Obviously today this is much easier than for example 50 years ago thanks to the evolution of technology and science. What we notice today is that there are many vineyards testing on replacing the classic cork by a screw cap as closure of their bottles. The biggest problem in this change is not the producers who don’t want to make the change (as the screw cap will give less bottles that are corked or that are gone bad), but rather the miss-interpretation of the consumers who have a wrong idea of the screw cap.

Many people think that wines that have a screw cap are of inferior quality to the wines that have the traditional cork or that wines with a screw caps are the low budget ‘chateau migraine’ wines 🙂  Well nothing of the above is true.  In fact a good quality screw cap will preserve the wine better than the classic cork and let less air get in touch with the wine (or get in the bottle when closed)?  Did you know that in New Zealand they don’t use regular corks anymore, but only screw caps?

A few weeks ago the winery of Franz Haas invited some sommeliers to show and experience themselves the effect the 2 types of bottle caps have on the aging of wine. Basically we were served the same wine (aged in the same conditions), but one bottle with classic cork and the other bottle with a screw cap and this this from several vintages and both white and red wines . During this tasting we did the comparison from the Franz Haas Manna (2016,2011, 2010)  and their Pinot Nero (2011, 2010, 2008, 2007, 2006)

FYI I don’t have any shares of any screw cap or cork company 🙂 So I’m just saying how I (and I think I can speak for everybody at the table that night) experienced this.

Even before this tasting I didn’t have anything against screw caps as I already had many wines that had a screw cap that I liked very much… the tasting only made me like them more (not that I won’t drink bottle with corks anymore 😉 ). It was particularly interesting to be able to put the both wines next to each other and the difference  has been significant in many cases. What I noticed was that the wines that had the screw cap were much ‘fresher’ and ‘alive’ than the ones with the classic cork. Not that I’m saying the ‘classic cork’ ones weren’t nice, because they were…but my preference went to the ones with screw cap (with my personal favorite the 2008 Pinot Nero 🙂 ) and you could definitely notice the difference. True for some vintages the difference was smaller, but it was there.

The only message I can give is, please don’t let your pre-judgment stop you from buying a bottle of wine (or even ordering it at a restaurant) just because it has a screw cap as the only thing a producer want to achieve with this is getting the wine in the best conditions to you and how he made the wine (so with as few changes as possible)!!

Another beauty we had at the end of the evening was the Moscato Rosa!!

In case you have questions regarding the Franz Haas wines you for Belgium you can contact Vinivins for people outside of Belgium please contact Franz Haas directly.

Cheers!

P.S.: Thanks Danny for letting us have this tasting at Silo’s!!