A new Italian wine online resource, Alice Feiring’s dirty little secret, and Italy’s first blind sommelier

That’s Italian wine legend Giorgio Grai (above, right) with leading Italian wine retailer and former winemaker Francesco Bonfio, co-founder of the newly launched Association of Italian Wine Shop Professionals, known as AEPI (Associazione Enotecari Professionisti Italiani). They convened last month for the group’s first seminar for its members in the Colli Euganei (they are posing in front of Italian humanist Francis Petrarch’s house in Arquà Petrarca, in the heart of the appellation, where the poet spent his final years).

I wanted to bring their new site to your attention because it also includes a blog that Francesco and his colleagues intend to populate with Italian wine news and stories. For example, they just published a video interview with Gianni Bortolotti, farmer, gourmet, and food and wine connoisseur who was widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on enogastronomy in the Valle d’Aosta. The interview was published on the seventh anniversary of his passing.

They also recently posted a video interview with Mr. Grai (filmed on the occasion of his seminar for the group), one of Italy’s most renowned winemakers and blenders and one of the wine world’s most fascinating and colorful characters.

I’m looking forward to following their feed and I imagine you will find it as useful and interesting as I do.

(Full disclosure: Francesco is one of my best friends in Italy and I am a huge fan of both him and Mr. Grai. Image courtesy of AEPI.)

The other new wine (and Italian wine) resource I’m really excited about is Alice Feiring’s newly released book The Dirty Guide to Wine: Following Flavor from Ground to Glass (Countryman Press 2017).

Diversity in soil type and how it impacts the aroma and flavor profile of wines from around the world is arguably the most controversial and often the most exciting component of wine education and connoisseurship today. And this new entry by Alice, written with Master Sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier, is (to my knowledge) the first stand-alone work on the topic, digging deep(er) perhaps than any wine writer’s efforts before her.

I’ve only had a chance to leaf sift through the review copy sent to me by the publisher but it’s what I’ll be reading tonight on my flight to Europe on my way to lecture at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Piedmont next week. I can’t imagine I won’t be including it in my syllabus for the wine writing seminars I’ll be leading there later this year. And I’ll report back with my notes once I till my way through…

(Full disclosure: Alice is one of my dearest and most cherished friends, she’s the owner of New York City’s most famous toilet and bathtub, and she makes the best salad in Manhattan.)

And lastly, from the department of “all the news that’s fit to blog about,” I was catching up on my Feedly this week when I read that the Association of Italian Sommeliers (AIS) recently certified its first blind member, Antonio Tramacere, age 49, a resident of Lecce province in Puglia (that’s the Santa Croce Basilica in the historic center of Lecce above).

“Today, I’m a sommelier, finally,” said Tramacere in a press release issued by the association, “even though I was not able to complete the visual test [required] in the exam.”

“As Giacomo Tachis used to say, ‘our sense of smell is how the soul and our emotions see.’ This phrase is my North Star.”

(Image via CanteleUSA.com, a blog I run for my client Cantele.)

4 thoughts on “A new Italian wine online resource, Alice Feiring’s dirty little secret, and Italy’s first blind sommelier

  1. I read this post the day you wrote it. My fiance sells wine for Glaziers (the D&E portfolio), I bought this for him after I saw what you wrote about it, and it just came in today! What did you think about it?

    • I like the book a lot. There actually not a ton of good info on soil types in different regions out there, at least not in one place. And this book brings so much good info together.

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