After Geneva, flew to Munich to drive down with a friend in his 575 Ferrari to Verona for Italy’s Super Bowl of wine fairs, VinItaly. Parts of the autobahn in Germany still have no speed limit. So we pushed the 575 a bit – very fast.
We stopped in Kufstein, Austria, on the way, the home of Riedel Glass. It’s about 1 1/2 hours from Munich. Said hello to Georg Riedel, the owner, who now owns Spiegelau as well. It was the case of the minnow eating the shark when he bought the company a few years back. Riedel is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year. I recommend all wine lovers to go to the factory. It is a wonderful experience. A large percentage of the handmade glasses of Riedel are made here. You can watch the master craftsmen blow the hot molten glass into everything from Port glasses to double magnum decanters. I was slightly nervous watching them handle the lava-like glass. If one of the molten bits falls off onto one of the workers, it wouldn’t take long for it to burn through since the glass is at more than 1,100 degrees, or something like that.
I have an even greater appreciation for Riedel glasses now, after seeing the factory. The handmade glasses are truly a work of art. Each one is unique. I always use the Riedel Sommelier Chardonnay glass for my tastings. I have a special leather case that I carry around the world for tastings. I also regularly use the Port, Nebbiolo and Brunello glass for tasting. I can’t recommend these glasses more highly. Great wines deserve to be served in great glasses. and Riedel is the business when it comes to serious stemware for wine. In fact, it makes all wines taste better.
By the way, the factory store sells seconds and thirds, which are a steal. I bought 12 Sommelier Bordeaux Grand Cru glasses for about $12 each. They are worth about 50 bucks each in the States. They were thirds, which means they had slight imperfections in the glass. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference.
Here is the address:
A-6330 Kufstein, Austria
We stopped for the night in Alto Adige, near Merano, at Oberwirt in Marling bei Meran. This is a beautiful hotel in the mountains overlooking the valley below. It makes its own white wine called Cantante (4,000 bottles), which is a blend of 45 percent Pinot Blanc, 40 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 15 percent Riesling. It’s a bright and fruity white with mineral, lemon and floral character. I scored it 88 points. Unfortunately, it’s not available in the States. We also drank the 1997 Fuligni Brunello (92 points) vs the 1997 Sandrone Le Vigne Barolo (95 points). Both are drinking beautifully at the moment – no signs of them falling apart. I can’t understand why some people continue to say that the 1997 vintage is not a great one for Italy. I did a tasting last year of 1997 Brunelli and Baroli at home, and all the wines showed fabulously. It was hard to say which were showing better. But that’s another column.
The wine list at the restaurant is incredible value. The two reds were $80 each. And the food is excellent. The chef deserves at least a star in Michelin. It’s refined and precise in a French/Italian style. Here is the address of the hotel:
I-39020 Marling bei Meran
Guus Hateboer — Netherlands — April 7, 2006 7:04am ET
Joseph Romualdi — Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada — April 8, 2006 12:30pm ET
James Suckling — — April 9, 2006 1:29pm ET
Michael Culley — April 10, 2006 11:41am ET
Guus Hateboer — Netherlands — April 10, 2006 3:54pm ET
Andries Smit — April 15, 2006 10:17am ET
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