Despite achieving an Italian Wine Specialist Certification from the North American Sommelier Association, one can never get too much information about the wines from Italy. With 20 regions and 3000 varietals, really mastering the wines of Italy is on on-going process. So, over the last few weeks, I jumped at the chance to attend four seminars hosted by The North American Sommelier Association, focusing on 4 regions of Italy.
Seminar 1: Wines of Puglia
Led by Alessia Botturi of the North American Sommelier Association and Vito Palumbo of Tormaresca.
Where is Boca you ask? Boca DOC is in Piemonte and is one of the smallest and Northernmost appellations of Italy. Produceing Nebbiolo, Vespolina and Uva Rara, it is one of the most unique terroirs in the world. Influenced by the 2nd highest peak of Europe (Monte Rosa), the wines are vastly long aging, intriguingly earthy and splendidly complex.
A recent seminar was conducted by Professional Sommelier, Master Taster and North American Sommelier Association (NASA) Vice President Diego Meraviglia, a native of this region. We were in for a great treat, tasting these great Nebbiolos, known locally as "Spanna".
The Terroir of BOCA
"Italy is not complicated, it's complex." That's what they told us on the first day of the Italian Wine Specialist Certification Course. That is an understatement. Wine is produced in each of the 20 regions, each different for its climate, soil, grapes, history, cuisine, even language. There are 73 DOCG wines and almost 400 DOC wines and hundreds of native varietals.
Having lived in Piemonte many years ago, my love for wine began over bottles of dolcetto, barbera, nebbiolo and brachetto. However, at the time, little did I know what I was drinking. Over the years, I have enjoyed tasting and learning about the regions of Italy and felt that I had a base of knowledge. I have taken press trips to Piemonte, Tuscany, Veneto and even Puglia where I have visited wineries, met with winemakers and tasted hundreds of wines. But last year at VIVA VINO LA, of which I am one of the organizers, I felt like I was drowning in a sea of unfamiliar varietals. Tai, Glera, Vespaiola, Nosiola, Raboso, Bombino Bianco, Schiava.....and the list goes on. As we prepare for the 2nd Annual VIVA VINO LA, I wanted to have a better understanding of the regions, varietals and appellations, so I signed up for the Italian Wine Specialist Program.
The Italian Wine Specialist Certification Program is offered by the North American Sommelier Association. It is the first of its kind and the teachers are all native Italian certified sommeliers and wine professionals. It is an intense 4-day program, followed by an exam. In the 4 days, the wine laws, regulations, grape varietals, traditions, trends, history, typicality as well as key characteristics for all 20 regions of Italy are explored.