This morning, incredibly, I woke up half an hour before my alarm clock, so I was able to calmly get ready and set off in the direction of Rovereto! This weekend I am in Trentino-Alto Adige on the hunt for the best sparkling wines for my guide 500 bubbles in 500! I love Trentino-Alto Adige, I find it a wonderful region and a dream in my drawer is to live in the hut on Lake Braies, a tiny lake in the middle of the mountains with extraordinary colours.
Ah, of course for my Sparkling Wine Guide 500 bubbles in 500 I have been in Trentino-Alto Adige these days... but the Trento DOC and Alto Adige DOC are not sold out here! I have received so many samples in my office and I have almost finished tasting them... I therefore thank Altemasi, Cavit, Arunda Vivaldi, Letrari, Endrizzi... and many others whom I will visit soon anyway 😉
Apart from a bit of traffic in Brescia, the journey went well and in just over a couple of hours I was at Balter, the first winery of the day. I had never been to Rovereto, and in passing it seemed really nice. Balter is just 5 minutes from the city centre, and it's quite easy to get to the winery (I got lost at the last turn, but it's a great classic 😀 ). The Balter winery is located in a 16th-century Castelliere, a small fortified military settlement that in ancient times served the function of sighting and transmitting communications between castles. The 10 hectares of vineyards are all around the Castelliere, on a hillside plain 350 metres above sea level and enjoy a favourable southern exposure.
Balter is a small family-run wine cellar that I had the pleasure of visiting with Clementina, a very pretty girl about my age. The property has been in the Balter family since 1872, when Francesco Balter bought it to run it with his brother Attilio. Today the winery is run by Nicola, winemaker, Clementina, reception and Giacomo, production. In addition to producing great wines, it is a perfect location for small weddings with an atmosphere of yesteryear, not least because the family has been really good at preserving the Castelliere's historically rich charm.
As for the wines, the sparkling wine production occupies about 45,000 bottles out of a total of 70,000 and all stages of production are carried out in-house. With Clementina, I tasted the Balter Riserva, a vintage classic method sparkling wine made from Chardonnay grapes from a 30-year pergola and only in the best vintages. This reserve in particular is from 2010 and has spent around 54 months on the lees. The result is an extremely fine and elegant wine.
I left immediately, heading towards Revì, another historic Trento DOC winery, where Giacomo was waiting for me for the tasting. I didn't manage to visit the winery because he didn't have his keys with him, but it's a good excuse to come back 😉
The tasting room coincides with the point of sale and is lovely and very well-kept. I sat down and tasted the Dosage Zero, the Brut, the Paladino, the Rosé and the Cavaliere Nero. Five very different organic Trento DOCs, of which the only ones that did not convince me were the Brut and the basic Rosé. I will dwell on the 2 excellences, the Paladino and the Cavaliere Nero. The Paladino is very well presented, with a raw cloth dress and the cork covered by a corn leaf tied with a willow twig, the same one used in ancient times to tie the vine shoots. The bottle has a really beautiful screen-printed label. The wine is a beautiful intense straw yellow with golden reflections. The perlage is fine, numerous and persistent. 4 grams of sugar, on the nose notes of flint, toasted hazelnut, dried flowers, green apple, white chocolate and a balsamic hint. On the palate it is creamy, soft, fresh, savoury, with a good structure and a characteristic finish of sweet liquorice. Definitely a beautiful expression of a Trento DOC from a mountain vine located at an altitude of 700 metres, of great elegance and finesse. Completely different is the Cavaliere Nero which, by far, was the Trento DOC from Revì that I preferred. Rosé Riserva 2009, 100% pinot noir, a beautiful pale pink with a fine, numerous and persistent perlage. The nose is broad, although the note that prevails over all is chestnut honey. But also cherry, currant, liquorice, quince and a balsamic finish. Also Extra Brut, only 4 grams of sugar rounding off the taste. Creamy, fresh, savoury, elegant, intense, persistent, fine and perfectly harmonious.
I set off again in the direction of Abate Nero and for once the navigator on my iPhone found it the first time... it's a pity that I didn't realise that there was a winery there because it looked like a block of flats and there was no sign... but luckily a very kind lady showed me the entrance (in German). Founded 40 years ago by Eugenio de Castel Terlago and Luciano Lunelli, the latter is also the forerunner oenologist of Metodo Classico in Trentino. A bit like the Franco Ziliani of Franciacorta, one might say!
We did the full tasting starting with the basics and what surprised me first was the Extra Dry. I was expecting a sweet and somewhat cloying sparkling wine, but nothing of the sort! Soft, very well-balanced and dosed with great precision... a pleasant discovery, certainly the sparkling wine that can bring even those who are not used to drinking it closer to this wine genre! Luciano told me that the Extra Brut is practically the Dosage Zero that has kept this name to be recognisable. This is followed by a great 'Domini Nero' Pinot Noir Millesimato 2010, 60 months on the lees, bright straw yellow in colour with golden highlights. The bubbles are numerous, fine and persistent. On the nose, notes of white peach, brittle and woodland, aromatic herbs, honey and a mineral note. In the mouth, great savouriness is immediately perceived, but it is also fresh, soft, fine, persistent and harmonious. This was followed by the 'Domini' Chardonnay Millesimato 2009 that Luciano Lunelli told me he adored. Indeed, it is a truly worthy wine, which is straw yellow with golden reflections, and a fine, persistent perlage. On the nose some tropical hints, ripe yellow peach, candied citron, vanilla and apple strudel. On the palate it is softer than the Pinot, extremely balanced, with a crunchy hazelnut finish. But it was what followed that really moved me: Cuvée dell'Abate, Riserva 2007. One word to sum it up: SPECIAL. At least 80 months on the lees, only steel, brilliant straw yellow with intense golden reflections. The perlage is fine, numerous and persistent. The nose is broad: lime honey, very ripe yellow fruit, almonds, hazelnuts, bread crust, cocoa, vanilla... you could literally leave your nose there for hours listening to it! In the mouth it enters very soft, creamy, complex, fine, elegant, and a citrus note and a delicate almond finish persist. One glass led to another, and Luciano Lunelli and I had a wonderful tasting together that I certainly won't forget! Thank you very much Luciano!
After Abate Nero I set off in the direction of Maso Martis, with an outrageous delay made worse by the fact that I cleverly got lost! A beautiful entrance to the winery, which is in a privileged position with a wonderful view of the mountains (the cover photo is the entrance to Maso Martis!).
Roberta (the boss lady), with great kindness and dedication still waited for me to show me the cellar, which is small but well cared for and very beautiful. Today there was a graduation party, and I must say that it really is a wonderful way to celebrate such an important day <3. And this wine cellar really is a panoramic terrace!
Around 60,000 bottles a year, 45,000 of them Trento DOC, in 12 hectares of vineyards at an altitude of 450 metres, at the foot of Monte Calisio. Given the hour, I preferred to postpone the tastings back home, with the samples received. In fact, every sparkling wine I tasted during this weekend I will taste again at home, at the same temperature and in the same glass, so as to have the best possible accuracy of judgement. In particular, the one I am looking forward to tasting is Madame Martis, only 1000 bottles produced in a blend of Pinot Noir 70%, Chardonnay 25% and Pinot Meunier 5%.
The vines are located on a hill to the east of Trento at 450 metres above sea level and are rooted in limestone soil, rich in skeleton on red Trentino rock. On the lees 9 years, or 108 months. How wonderful! Ah, Paco has met the two wonderful furry little boys of the house... 😀 Thanks again Roberta for waiting for me 🙂 🙂
Towards evening I arrived in Lavis to have something to eat and rest at Sartori's Hotel **** Welness & SPA. As soon as I arrived, all the staff impressed me with their distinguished manners, kindness and professionalism. Sartori's Hotel in Lavis is perfect for relaxing after a busy day of wine tasting. The hotel is run by the five Sartori brothers and, although it has a family feel, it has a distinctly international feel to it. There is ample parking and it is less than 5 minutes from the motorway.
The superior room they reserved for me is really nice, very large (46 square metres, when I told my dad that it was bigger than my old one-room flat in Ravenna I wasn't joking!) with a private panoramic balcony overlooking the mountains and a relaxation/study corner with TV, minibar, kettle and the possibility of tasting local wines. Equipped with air conditioning, telephone, safe, bathroom with large shower with a really pleasant rain tap, courtesy set with shampoo, body cream and other useful things with pleasant scents, and hairdryer.
Restaurant Pizzeria La Piazzetta
I took a nice rejuvenating shower and went down for dinner at Ristorante Pizzeria La Piazzetta. The ambience is classic, with attention to every detail. From the mise ne piace to the dining room, everything puts you at ease and gives you warmth. Beautiful exposed beams, stone effect walls, and fresh flowers. There is a nice vegetable buffet near the corner where Salvatore churns out his delicious pizzas.
There are many good things to eat on the menu, for all tastes and children included. However, after reading on their website that Salvatore makes pizza to perfection, I really couldn't resist and ordered the gourmet pizza with mozzarella, potatoes, porcini mushrooms and truffle. For the pizza they use very little yeast, about 0.1% on the kg of flour, and consequently between rising and maturation it takes almost 48 hours: this makes the dough digestible and doesn't even make you too thirsty. The taste of the dough is very good, you can feel that they use quality flours and the alveolations of the edge remain soft even if the edge is not high Neapolitan pizza style. But we are in Trentino, by golly! Seasoned very well, I couldn't even finish it so big it was, and despite being very hungry!
Ah, of course I paired the gourmet pizza with a Trento DOC: 50, 151 by Cantine Moser. 50 151 is the record that Trentino cyclist Francesco Moser set, covering those kilometres in just 1 hour. A beautiful intense straw yellow, it has numerous, fine and persistent bubbles. The nose smells like a slice of warm bread with a hazelnut cream, while in the mouth it is crisp, fresh, savoury, intense, fine and has a pleasantly persistent citrus note. With La Piazzetta's gourmet pizza it was really good, also because it has a backbone and structure capable of holding up even courses of this type!
As many sweet tooths know, we have two stomachs: one for food in general and one for sweets! So despite being quite full I still managed to eat a Cheese Cake with mango and peach which I found really really good! Cheese cake is by far my favourite dessert after the Sicilian cassata that my dad makes and we make a very good one too, but this one I have to say was very soft, almost a mousse and also perfect in taste without being cloying. The biscuit was also excellent, probably a shortcrust pastry, which literally melted in the mouth. On top it was garnished with an alchechengi, a slice of passion fruit and a few slices of plum. The chef completed the dish, which looked really good, with sprinkled icing sugar and a few drops of fruit.
I couldn't even fit a pin in, but when I read on the menu 'homemade ice cream' and 'cinnamon' paired together, I couldn't resist! So I also tasted a scoop of ice cream! It tasted very good and tasty, the texture slightly icy, but I only had to eat it after the cheesecake to get the perfect temperature! 😀
Room & Breakfast [Updated Sunday 23 October 2016, 11am].
I almost rolled back to my room, and was good and diligent enough to take the stairs despite the convenient lift. I got into bed for a while, turned on the satellite TV at low volume and then started writing.
What a peaceful, beautiful atmosphere! The furnishings at Sartori's Hotel are classic in style, but that classic full of taste! The bed is very comfortable and really huge, and the panoramic French window overlooking the mountains is very nice.
The bed is so comfortable that I fell fast asleep and slept well until 8:30 this morning! A nice hot shower, perfumed cream... and I got dressed for breakfast. In between, I came downstairs that it was almost 10am! As always a hot lemon tea and a croissant... well 3 mini croissants! Delicious, fragrant and buttery as I like them, worthy of French pastries! I relaxed for half an hour with beautiful music in the background... and then I went up to my room to brush my teeth and get my things!
I'm leaving Sartori's now, which is just after 11am on Sunday morning. I had a great time... and it really regenerated me for my day in the direction of Bolzano!
See you in a few hours #winelovers <3
Thanks are due:
For the kind hospitality.
Address: c/o Sartori's Hotel - via Nazionale 33, 38015 Lavis - Trento
Telephone: +39 0461 246563
Hours: LUNCH from 12:00 to 14:30 - DINNER from 19:00 to 22:00 (Restaurant) to 23:30 (Pizzeria) - Closed Sunday lunchtime
For the kind hospitality.
Address: via Nazionale 33, 38015 Lavis - Trento
Telephone: +39 0461 246563
For providing the DSC RX100M4 with which all photos were taken.
A truly outstanding professional compact, capable of working wonders even in environments with really bad lighting.