Last week a group of 100 or so wine writers, wine bloggers, lifestyle writers, and “opinion leaders” (as they call them in Italy) were welcomed in the land of Moscato by the Moscato d’Asti growers and bottlers consortium.
It was a really impressive gathering, with people from all over the world: China, Indonesia, Korea, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, England, and America. And those are just the people I interacted and traded notes with. I don’t even know exactly how many countries were represented.
Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it. Back in my media junket days, groups like this were usually limited to 10-12 people at the most.
One of the highlights was Walter Speller’s master class on Moscato d’Asti. Walter is one of the top English-language Italian-focused wine writers working today. And he’s the Italian editor for Jancis Robinson MW’s Purple Pages and the Oxford Companion to Wine.
Beyond all the juicy technical information he shared, he also offered his insights into what really makes Moscato d’Asti stand apart in the world of sparkling wine. He pointed out, for example, that all of Moscato d’Asti is grown on hillsides, something that many other popular sparkling wine appellations cannot claim. That may seem like a banal factoid to those not familiar with the world of wine. But it’s actually a really significant element in why these wines are so special in the panorama of grape growing and winemaking today.
I also really loved how he encouraged the group to pair Moscato d’Asti in creative ways. (“If you feel like serving Moscato d’Asti with steak,” he told the group, “go for it!” I think he’s right on.)
Of course, the best part of the experience was getting to taste scores and scores of wines in one place. And it was also fantastic to get to interact with so many winemakers.
Many wine trade observes often (and wrongly) call Moscato d’Asti a commercial wine. It may be true that some expressions of Moscato d’Asti are conceived, packaged, and marketed to to a “mass” audience. But as Walter pointed out, Moscato d’Asti is grown mostly by family farmers, many of whom have passed down their vineyards from generation to generation.
I am convinced that this eye-opening experience really helped the writers etc. to discover Moscato d’Asti’s “soul.” Talking to so many growers and producers, how could we not?
Especially given the size of the group, the organizers did a fantastic job of executing the event. And we were all treated to a bounty of freshly shaved truffles. On one day, we ate truffles at lunch and dinner!
Thank you, Moscato d’Asti, for hosting us. It was a really remarkable and unforgettable experience.