I’d like to be able to say that my absence on this blog of late was due to yet another visit to this delightful, energizing wine bar in the lovely setting that is Bolzano. But it wasn’t; unfortunately, life sometimes gets in the way of life’s most important pursuits, such as the exploration of wine bars.
I found out about Enovit the evening I arrived, the night before New Year’s Eve. “But they might be closing by now,” my hotel’s receptionist warned me. “Well, I’ll have to do my best to convince them to stay open,” was my reply.
The night was bitterly cold; thankfully, the doors to the warm, inviting vinoteque were still open, and soon the latest irritating addition to my long string of Italian train delays became a distant memory.
For winos, what’s most intriguing about Italy’s Alto Adigi (Südtirol in German), and many other wine-producing areas that haven’t quite achieved the international acclaim they deserve, is that the vast majority of the wines produced here, stay here. And Enovit’s charming proprietor Lisa Anderle is eager to share these local treasures. There’s no “wine by the glass” list; Lisa does things a little bit more simply. On any given day, she has 20-30 wines that she pours, providing a sampling that will match the most stringent demands of field researchers.
I left everything in her hands; I simply asked for local reds. One variety I’ve never tasted –indeed, never even heard of and still can’t pronounce properly– is lagrein, a very dark purplish-red that really deserves more attention among wine scribes. The better ones have a strong hint of bitterness, but with plenty of ripe fruit on the palate to lend a sweet and long first impression. The better ones, Lisa said, will improve in bottle for at least a decade. Greiser’s 2004, a citrusy offering with luscious strawberry notes, is definitely among those. A terrific wine.
The night began with a pair of pinot noirs –pinot nero, to the locals– that were amazing surprises. Winemakers admit that pinot noir is among the most fickle grapes and most difficult grapes to work with. More often than not, these on-the-spot tastings are disappointments. But one mus persevere, and I’m glad that Franz Haas has. I tried a pair of his 2003s, one a reserve, and one a “regular” bottling. Both were phenomenal, with the reserve still a tad young, but nicely-balanced for drinking four or five years from now. (Among other things, wine has taught me patience in certain situations.)
I stopped taking notes when a conversation with a few customers turned to George Bush –many Europeans are intrigued by how he could have been elected AND reelected, and oftentimes seek answers and I happily oblige– but the few others wines I tasted, various cabernet sauvignon-merlot blends, were quite tasty as well.
Enovit is quite roomy, its layout elegantly hip. The bar sits in the center, with enough room on all sides to cater to customers. There is an adjacent room with several cozy tables for overflow.
As Lisa was shutting down for the night, I promised to come back the next day to make a few purchases. “Tomorrow, there will be lots of people,” she warned. She wasn’t kidding. The early afternoon New Year’s eve crowd poured into the street, glasses in hand. Walking out with a case of wine proved to be quite the chore.
– Stiftskellerei Neustift/Abbazia di Nova Cella 2004 Gewurztraminer
– Kellerei/Cantina Tramin 2004 Gewurztraminer, Alto Adigi/Sudtirol
– Aristos Eisacktaler 2004 Gewurztraminer, Alto Adigi/Sudtirol
– Weingut Gottardi 2003 Blaubergunder (pinot noir), Alto Adigi/Sudtirol
– Franz Haas Pinot Nero 2003 (pinot noir), Alto Adigi/Sudtirol
– Franz Haas Pinot Nero 2003 (pinot noir) Riserva, Alto Adigi/Sudtirol
– Happacherhof Merlot Cabernet 2002, Alto Adigi/Sudtirol
– Abtei Muri, 2002 Lagrein Riserva, Alto Adigi/Sudtirol
– Kristan 2001 Egger-Ramer Lagrein Riserva
I didn’t even taste the gewurztraminers, but have always been intrigued by the good dry ones. There’s a nearby village called Tramin, supposedly where the grape originated, so leaving without a few would have been a grave sin.
Like just about everything in Bolzano, Enovit isn’t exceptionally cheap. And neither are the wines by the bottle. The ones I bought ranged from about 8 euros (for a gewurzt) to 32 euros for the Haas reserve. The lagreins ranged from 12-18 euros, while there were others that were significantly more. (Wine, I like to rationalize, has also taught me restraint.)
I visited Enovit Vinoteque on 30 and 31 Dec 2005