The state capital for Bavaria may be more famous for pints than Pinot Noir, but the city that hosts the Oktoberfest is also home to ten Michelin-starred restaurants. Given Munich’s conspicuous wealth and unofficial status as a northern outpost of Italy, it’s no surprise that the locals like to eat well, irrespective of price.
The most famous of these places is Tantris, credited with having launched the modern German culinary revolution under its first chef, Eckart Witzigmann. It’s a strange place—one part Buddhist shrine to two parts 1970s nightclub—but the food under the current chef, Hans Haas, remains some of the subtlest in Germany.
You’d expect a two-star restaurant to have a good wine list, and you won’t be disappointed. More to the point, it seems to be getting better by the month under its knowledgeable, approachable Canadian sommelier, Justin Leone, who has more than doubled its size to 1,300 bins during the past two years.
The focus is Germany, with over 100 slots. But most of the fine-wine regions of the world are represented, from Burgundy to Piedmont, Bordeaux to the Napa Valley. The only conspicuous absence is New Zealand, but you can forgive that, given the riches on offer from elsewhere.
What to drink with the five-course tasting menu? Tantris is known for its own wine pairings, five of which will add €80 to your already substantial bill. They didn’t look that enticing—a Provence white and a red Priorat among them—so instead we chose from the list, with advice from Leone.
After two glasses of very individual growers’ fizz (from Forget-Brimont and André Clouet) we moved to a stunning bottle of the minerally, profound, almost Alsace-like 2009 Kühling-Gillot Nackenheimer Rothenberg Riesling Grosses Gewächs, Rheinhessen (€130), one of the finest German whites I’ve tasted in a restaurant.
Next it was over the border to Italy, partly because Montalcino is a town I adore. The 2008 Salicutti Rosso di Montalcino (€75) is typical of this cooler, more restrained Tuscan vintage, with silky tannins, and refreshing cherry and raspberry fruit.
Both wines were a delight with the food, which, just like the list, combines the best of Germany, Italy and France with a hint of Buddhism for good measure.
Five-course tasting menu, €150 per person; tantris.de
Where else to go and what to drink
Formal, one-star food and wine from one of Munich’s best hotels. Four-course tasting menu, €95pp
Best white: 2010 William Fèvre Chablis Every time I see a 2010 Chablis from a respectable name on a wine list, I drink it, because this is one of the great vintages in the Yonne. This example is taut and focused, with tangy acidity and a creamy, unoaked mid-palate. €45
Best red: 2007 Lacoste Borie, Pauillac If there is such a thing as a bargain from a top classed-growth Bordeaux chateau, then this, the second wine of Grand-Puy-Lacoste in Paulliac, is surely it. Refreshing notes of cassis, graphite and subtle oak, and silky tannins. €85
Two-star in-store dining at the Fortnum & Mason of Munich. Six courses, €135pp
Best white: 2004 Domaine Gauby Vieilles Vignes Blanc, Roussillon This blend from vineyards close to the Pyrenees is one of the few dry Roussillon whites that improves with age. Its saline, smoky flavours are like a cross between a Fino Sherry and a Chablis. €70
Best red: 2009 Weingut Ziereisen Spätburgunder Rhini, Baden Germany makes more Pinot Noir than New Zealand, yet its best wines are under-appreciated. The small family-owned estate in Baden is a superstar, creating subtle, fragrant, beautifully balanced reds – this is a prime example. €66