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My favourite Santa Maddalena wine – Messnerhof

I got in touch with Messnerhof some months ago and I’ve been astounded right off by one thing: Bernhard Pichler grows his vines and produces his wines all by himself, in his house and with his experience and knowledge only.

(Just a note: Mr Bernhard is teaching enology at the Technical Institute for agriculture in Ora/Auer, hence he knows how to do it)

His passion, rooted in the origins of local wines and grapes and now enriched with innovative ideas and blends, is evident at first sight. The whole family, three generations, helps with the challenge. This is what I call a family business!

Thus, I finally took my time to pay a visit to his winery.

The ‘Hof’, that includes a private chapel, is located in an ancient historic quarter of Bolzano, in a position overlooking the city and the valley. This area is renowned since ages for viticulture thanks to the peculiar microclimate and the lasting solar exposition. The enchanting slope is in these days changing its colours form the sweet summer-green guise into a yellow-red-orange spotted surface. A spectacular view.

The property has recently been made over with a special attention to wine making and guests. Should you decide to come to Bolzano, you could even overnight in the new B&B flat.

The ancient barn has now become an awesome tasting room with 400-years-old balks, a stunning view on Bolzano from the glass gable, elegant and designed wooden furniture that still smells of timber. It is a pleasure to sit there, listening to Mr. Bernhard’s introduction and tasting his fine wines.

Did you know? Mr. Pichler also grows olive trees, full of olives that in November will be ripe to produce enough olive oil for his family needs, in his estate. A Mediterranean corner among the Alps.

I would like to highlight one aspect: the winery is managed in the respect of sustainability principles. As Mr. Bernhard tells, he cares about natural and eco-friendly processing, energy saving and respect for the environment. He gave up completely the use of herbicides and fertilization. Vineyards and vines grow in ecological balance. Heating and cooling systems use energy produced by photovoltaic panels and own wood chips. Wines are bottled in particularly light bottles, trying to maintain the C02 emission as limited as possible.

The visit was very interesting, didactic and at the same time heuristic: I could handle everyday instruments, smell and glimpse fermenting must, touch vines and barriques. I found it engaging and amusing!

I had a complete tasting of the Messnerhof wines, wines with great character and real high quality, well presented and explained by Mr. Bernhard.

My favourites:

The Gewürztraminer. Usually I am not in love with this wine for its residual sweetness, but this time I have to admit that it was excellent: dry, very aromatic, with a mineral note, marked tartness and intensive finish. Perfect pairing for goat’s milk cheese or Asian food.

The Santa Maddalena classico. Until now my favourite Santa Maddalena! Full-bodied (for being a Santa Maddalena), with a mineral note, smooth tannins and long finish. A wide range of opportunities for pairing.

My regret:

the Mos Maiorum was already all gone! It’s a rarity: a Santa Maddalena produced like 100 years ago: a blend of Schiava, Lagrein and local ancient grape varieties, from a 80 years old vineyard.

A good reason to come back when the new vintage will be available! Want to come with?

All photos by Bernhard Pichler.

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