I’m not immune to the charms of Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel or for that matter Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday, but I’m also not an Austro-nostalgic fighting for the return of the Südtirol to Vienna.
Turbulent histories have marked Italy’s eastern vineyards, inviting comparisons to France’s Champagne region, since somehow the celebratory bubbles prevail. When it comes to history I suggest we err on the side of the winemakers. They were probably great people, they were winemakers! The wines of the old semi-germanic Regno Lombardo-Veneto and semi-Italian Königreich Lombardo–Venetien are an empire unto themselves with a cultural context that makes them exquisite.
As an anthropologist, I look at borders with suspicion. As a hedonistic chap, I look at this part of the world and I see great wine:
I totally dig the wines from Piemonte and Puglia, but feel like the cool kids of the wine world are suddenly rediscovering the Veneto’s ex-Austrian neighbors: Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. I’m talking about some killer Gewürztraminer, Barbera and Vermentino.
Between Trentino’s sparkling white, called Trento DOC, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia’s Prosecco, there’s an enormous range. Around 1900, after graduating the Forschungsanstalt für Garten- und Weinbau in Germany, one Giulio Ferrari traveled to Épernay to learn the méthode traditionelle which he brought to Trentino and it’s still what defines the current-day regional regulations, which are stricter than Prosecco’s. The yesterday’s worldliness of that village success story charms me in a way similar to the cosmopolitan Enoteca Bischoff on Via Mazzini in Trieste, which has sold wine since 1777 and continues to hold on to to a few bottles of the 18th century Madeira it once served to the Hapsburgs.