I.E.E.M. (International Event & Exhibition Management) an agency specializing in marketing, events production and public relations for the wine industry curated one of the best Italian wine experiences with its tri-city tour: Simply Italian Great Wines U.S. Tour.  The first stop was, my sweet home Chicago on October 21, 2019 at the trendy The LondonHouse. The Chicago event was so well done, if time permitted, I would have followed the tour to Los Angeles (October 23) and Seattle (October 24).

When it comes to wine study, my preferred method of learning is a classroom setting. So, I was excited when I read that this tour offered five master classes focused to a different Italian wine region. Each class was led by top Italian wine educators and winemakers.

These seminars are designed for industry professionals and wine journalists, so they can be weighty with “technical information.”  Since most of my readers look to Shall We Wine for wine recommendation, below I will focus on some of the tasting highlights and guide you to which producers to look for. Prepare for deliciousness!

Master Class 1: Consorzio per la Tutela dell’Asti D.O.C.G.: One Denomination, Three Great Wines: Asti, Asti Secco, Moscato d’Asti D.O.C.G. presented by Tom Hyland

Let me start by reminding you that all Moscato wines (like all other varietals) are not created equal. You’ve heard me get on my soapbox about how Moscato is “one of the most misunderstood” wines on the market. If you haven’t check out this VinePair article.

When I suggest serving a Moscato to a friend or client, the usual reaction is, “no, they are too sweet.” These are the same people who drink smoothies for breakfast, fresh squeezed orange juice and love dessert. So, what is it about sweetness in wine that “turns them off?”

As I mentioned earlier, not all Moscato wines are created the same. My first question for those who say they do not like Moscato is, which ones have you tried? They usually mention an inexpensive domestic brand. To get the best examples of Moscato, you must drink those from the Asti region in piedmont, Italy, d’Asti D.O.C.G.  PERIODT!!!!! D.O.C.G  stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin, DOCG). This is the highest designation of quality among Italian wines, so when you see it on the label, you know that standards have been followed to ensure the highest quality. Ok, ok I can hear some of you now, “that doesn’t mean I will like it.” True, you may not like it, but I want you to judge a wine based on your experience with the best of its kind, not mediocrity.

Some Moscato wines on the market taste like simple syrup and have given consumers the impression that all Moscato wines are the same. Imagine if I offered you a tall glass of iced sugar water on a hot day. Most would turn me down. If instead I offered a glass of lemonade, made with fresh lemons, that is both sweet and tart, most would take me up on it. Think of wine in the same way. With sweet or fruity wines, the presence of acid balances the sugar and makes the wine yummy. If a wine (like the sugar water example) is all sugar, it’s one dimensional and boring.  The magic of Moscato d’Asti D.O.C.G  is that the wine is so well balance with a delightful interplay of fruit flavors (not sugar) and acid.

Myth buster; there are dry Moscato. At the master class, we tasted three wines:  Asti, Asti Secco, Moscato d’Asti D.O.C.G. The wines range from extra dry, with no added sugar to a sweet style. Each style, from the best produces have great fruit, lively acidity and are well balanced. Below are the four wines we tasted. Look for them, invite some friends over and try them side by side (in the order below) to discover the range of Moscato d’Asti D.O.C.G.

  1. “Bric Prima Bella” Asti D.O.C.G. 2017 EXTRA DRY: Here is an example of a dry wine from the region. This sparkling Asti D.O.C.G. 2017 wine has aromas of fresh flowers and lime. The palate is dry, with flavors of unripe peach, lime and lightly toasted bread. Try this as an aperitif, with sushi and or ceviche.
  2. Moscato d’Asti D.O.C.G. Dolce Millesimato 2014: Yes, you read correctly 2014! This sparkling wine is fresh and busts another myth that Moscato can’t age. Made in the classic method (like champagne with the second fermentation occurring in the bottle). The wine smells like fresh baked bread, flowers, apples, and vanilla. On the palate it is opulent, with a apples hazelnut character and a long finish. The producers suggested pairing this with baked pastries and desserts with cream. I would add a quiche, frittata or a fennel salad as other pairing options.  
  3. Valamsca Asti D.O.C.G. 2017 – Another fresh wines. This one is fruitier than the others. A perfect Sunday brunch companion with aromas of oranges and white flowers. On the palate there are fresh peaches and orange peel. Try this with brunch, spicy Thai and Indian dishes.
  4. Abbazia Moscato d’Asti D.O.C.G. 2018. This wine has a pleasant sweetness that makes it perfect for fruit-based desserts: apple pies, fruit salads, cheesecake with fresh strawberries.

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Notes from Simply Italian Great Wines U.S. Tour Press Release: During the leading event, the Walk Around Tasting, producers from Italy’s finest regions will pour their latest releases exclusively for press and trade members. Participating wineries include:
Aldegheri, Antonutti, Azienda Agricola Biasiotto, Azienda Agricola La Chimera D’Albegna, Azienda Agricola La Gironda Di Galandrino, Azienda Agricola Poderi dal Nespoli, Azienda Agricola Gualberto Ricci Curbastro, Azienda Agricola Tomasi, Baglio Oro Società Agricola Semplice, Ca’Ferro, Cantina di Custoza, Cantina Giampietro Puggioni, Cantina Sociale di Trento, Cantine Europa Soc. Coop. Agr., Casa Vinicola Carminucci- Vinicola del Tesino, Fattoria di Casalbosco, Federdoc, Fina Vini, La Fortezza, Menicucci 1689, Ronco Margherita, Tenuta Montemagno

Simply Italian Great Wines U.S. Tour Sponsors and Organizers:
Chamber of Commerce of Udine: Azienda Agricola La Rajade, Azienda Agricola Zaglia Giorgio, Modeano, La Sclusa, Società Agricola Stocco, Società Agricola Sturm, Specogna
Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: Carpineto, La Ciarlana, Manvi, Podere Casanova, Vecchia Cantina di Montepulciano
Consorzio per la Tutela dell’Asti D.O.C.G.: Bussi Piero, Casa Vinicola Abbazia di San Gaudenzio, Cuvage, Matteo Soria, Viticoltori Associati di Vinchio-Vaglio Serra
Consorzio Tutela Vini della D.O.C. delle Venezie
Consorzio Tutela Vini D.O.C. Friuli Grave
Piemonte Land of Perfection: Azienda Agricola Sordo GiovanniVigneti Repetto
During the evening, the tour featured THE “APERITIVO“. Italian Wines. More than just a drink, the classic Italian happy hour organized by Federdoc, showcasing the esteemed wines from Consorzio Tutela Vini della D.O.C. delle Venezie, Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Consorzio Tutela Vini D.O.C. Friuli Grave in extravagant spaces in Chicago and Los Angeles.
Maurizio Forte, Italian Trade Commissioner: “The Italian Trade Agency is happy to support the Simply Great Italian Wines grand tasting in Seattle. With interest increasing in Italian wines throughout the Pacific states in the US, we believe that supporting events such as this one will create opportunities for Italian producers to reach new markets and for local trade professionals to learn more about Italian wine culture. This event aligns well with our Italian Wine- Taste the Passion campaign, launched in April 2018, to promote Italian wines in the US.”
Marina Nedic, I.E.M./I.E.E.M.’s Managing Director explains: “The diversity of Italian wines reflects the history and culture of Italy. Simply Italian Great Wines represents the ideal opportunity to showcase this heritage and present old favorites and exciting newcomers to the increasingly discerning US market”.
ABOUT I.E.E.M.: (International Event & Exhibition Management), the Miami-based branch of I.E.M. (International Exhibition Management), is a comprehensive agency specializing in marketing, events production and public relations for the wine industry. Driven by a passion for trade shows and a flair for flawless organization, I.E.M. was founded in 1999 by industry veterans Giancarlo Voglino and Marina Nedic. A reputation for reliably delivering high-quality events, coupled with its extensive network of wine trade professionals and international media, places IEEM/IEM among the most highly regarded Italian wine event organizers in the world. Learn more by visiting www.ieemusa.com.