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The award-winning sommelier inaugurates the collaboration with So Wine So Food: a great dish and three great wines. Because the pairing is always transversal

For centuries, art and literature have celebrated the deer as a model of nobility and purity, starting with the dense symbolism of the Song of Songs where the divine is revealed in a fawn and the ‘lovable doe … is the woman of your youth’. Not least the mythology of Diana and the medieval cycles of Breton and the Holy Grail, together with centuries of literary works that through the appearance of a deer embody the manifestation of God. An imaginary that in Petrarch’s poetics, unites a candid deer to beauty unattainable of the beloved woman, as desired as she is absolute. The regal bearing of the deer and a certain aura of mystery, connote a sacredness that in some cultures depicts it as a mediator between the earthly world and the otherworldly, so much so that for the Celts it was the ‘bull of the fairies’, however in the fables of many Countries of the world embodies goodness, fecundity and the evolution of the rhythms of life, thanks to the periodic renewal of the stage, with one exception, the vain and reckless deer of Aesop’s fable, one of the very few negative representations of the king of the woods .

But the deer is also a prized game, destined for royal tables, in times when a select few held the right to hunt over vast reserves, on pain of death. We find traces of it in the song Geordie that Fabrizio de Andrè composed in 1966 adapting Joan Baez’s version of ’62, written on an ancient British ballad of the sixteenth century which, according to some historians, leads back to a real event. Geordie, George Gordon, Marquis and Earl of Huntly, stole six deer from the royal estates and for this he was sentenced to death by James VI, King of Scotland. A king’s food today destined for an ever-growing audience of consumers, who, through effective word of mouth, know where to go and enjoy it.

Among my favorite destinations for venison and game, the ‘Lunaris 1964′ in Cà di Pietra, one of the places that identify my ideal of a gastronomic restaurant, where I like to be guided by the creativity of chef Matthias Kirchler, by his remarkable skills techniques and expertise in choosing local ingredients. A young chef born in 1993, a native of Rio Bianco in Val Aurina, who approaches catering in his parents’ alpine refuge, before taking up the hotel school in Brunico and realizing that his profession is his. First the entrance to the Hotel Linderhof in Cadipietra in Val Aurina, as an apprentice, commis de partie, chef de partie and finally sous chef, then in 2016 two years of experience in important brands of South Tyrol and Austria, refining the technique with courses and masters and in 2018 again at the Lunaris Wellnessresort Hotel in the role of kitchen chef, until the opening a year later, of the Lunaris 1964 gourmet restaurant (annexed to the hotel), only 4 tables up to a maximum of 8 clients with a 12-course menu in fine dining style.

A shop that in just two years conquers the 3 Hats of Gault & Millau, the 3 Forks of Falstaff, the 3 Spoons of Schlemmeratlas, the 3 Hats of Große Guide, reported as ‘Discovery of the year’ among the restaurants of South Tyrol. Everything originates next to the small farm Niederlinderhof, the birthplace of Johann Steger, progenitor of the family, where the Linderhof guesthouse was built in 1966, which in the following years will be expanded and in 2000 will be the subject of an impressive renovation completed on 28 July 2018, when the inauguration of the new Amonti & Lunaris, a luxury hotel with a 6,000 m² wellness area and adjoining Lunaris 1964 gourmet restaurant.

But what is the Lunaris 1964 cooking philosophy? “First of all, use the best products from my region – confirms Matthias Kirchler -. To do this, together with local producers, I created a menu where the Aurina valley – my home – is told. For me it is very important to cook ‘no waste’ and I try to put in place a circular economy that only includes products from the area. In this regard, I created a dish called ‘goasroscht’, entirely dedicated to a small goat cheese artisan, and a plate with gray cheese, the most typical of our valley. The roots are important and I try to take inspiration from the culinary traditions of this part of the region, reinterpreting old recipes with modern techniques ”.

Game is one of South Tyrol’s specialties, how is deer hunting regulated and where do you buy it? “Thanks to the adaptability of the deer, it has become the most widespread ungulate species in South Tyrol. Deer prefer mixed woods with rich shrub flora, clearings, woods and meadows, which are their habitat. The hunt starts on May 1st and ends on December 15th. Venison is very tender, lean, low calorie, nutritious, and it is very popular in South Tyrol. From fried in a pan to braised to meat sauce, there are many ways to cook venison. For the high quality and reliability, I prefer the venison from the “Macellaio Steiner” in Rasun Anterselva for our restaurant ”. And now here we are at the plate. The recipe that Matthias has prepared for us, involves the meat of a mature doe, aged from 36 to 48 hours. The backs are stripped and trimmed, the silver skin removed, a pure venison jus is made with the bones and the seals, while the saddle is spicy browned, cooked at 80 ° C for about 18 minutes, seasoned with aromatic herbs and butter, left to rest for about 15 minutes and finished with fleur de sal. To better enjoy the preparation, I thought of these three wines that it was fun to combine with Matthias deer, I hope it will be for you too.

Sauvignon Blanc Vineyard “Rachtl” Tiefenbrunner – vintage 2019 Visiting the Tiefenbrunner Castel Turmhof estate is an authentic experience, a journey into the history of South Tyrolean wine, where Sabine and Christof, fifth generation, have grasped the legacy and continue with the same passion of the founder. Archaeological finds near the castle confirm that the area was already inhabited in prehistoric times, while the “Linticlar” farm is mentioned for the first time in the official records of 1225 AD. A sauvignon that is slightly reduced compared to the classic Alto Adige monovarietals, a stylistic choice and sought after by the winery itself.

Flint, elderberry, peach, light notes of gunpowder, a very inviting nose with aromas reminiscent of the great sauvignons of their cousins from beyond the Alps. Mineral on the palate with an incredible savory note, long on the finish and sharp to the point of requiring an important dish like this, which makes it an ideal match. Oratory of San Lorenzo Inama – 2017 A family now in its third generation, which for over half a century has dedicated itself to producing wines that reflect the territorial identity, ever since the oenologist Giuseppe Inama bought the first vineyard on Monte Foscarino in the Soave Classico in 1965.

I chose Carmenére which was born in 2004 in a small luxuriant valley on the Berici Hills once inhabited by monks, because it represents the rediscovery of an ancient grape and wine unique in Europe, which reveals the essence of an elegant and refined, in some ways unusual in this type of variety. Small berries, finesse, elegance, long and pleasant finish, where the classic rusticity of the variety is silenced by the work in the vineyard and in the cellar, which is able to bring out the fruit and creaminess of this wine. A match by affinity, excellently successful, where the spicy part of the dish combines perfectly with the body and structure of the wine, playing in contrast with the sweet and fruity aroma of the same. Alta Langa Rosè Brut Riserva – Cascina Pastori Colombo – 2016 An area with an ancient wine vocation that dates back to the Romans, where Antonio Colombo, a cardiologist with an international reputation turning a passion into an activity, bought 9 hectares of vineyards in 2004 to inaugurate the new winery two years later.

A path that since 2010 has benefited from the collaboration of the oenologist Riccardo Cotarella and the safe guide of Andrea and Paola who run the estate. A pure Pinot Noir that remains five years on the lees and originates from vines placed on the hill of Bubbio in the Asti area, about 250 meters. The sip amazes us for a successful balance of structure, freshness and silkiness. Crunchiness, fruit, red berries always present, elegance and a good game of moderate flavor and abundant minerality, impacting nose, fine and delicate perlage in the mouth. An excellent combination where the roundness and flavor of the wine is well completed with the spiciness of the dish.

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