35 countries represented, about 40 Franciacorta wineries, 3 days of wine madness and hundreds of brilliant new friends... This was the European Wine Bloggers Conference. It has already been four days since my return but I am still buzzing. Emotionally psyched to be a part of the wine world, I can't wait to continue my quest in learning about it. This is experience was UNFORGETTABLE for many reasons:
- THE FIRST UNOFFICIAL NIGHT BYOB DINNER:
The first bloggers to get in town all gathered at 7:00 in Hotel Vittoria. My nerves were getting to me. After all, I had no formal wine training, no valuable old bottles to bring, and was just wearing jeans in this incredibly chic venue! But I had my story, which was the whole theme of this particular wine conference (storytelling) and my wine was a Gundlach Bundschu Gewurztraminer which I brought back from Sonoma California. This was my first wine memory and is an example of the family run wineries that I like to support.
Equipped with spit buckets galore, people start rushing around like some sort of speed dating game with bottles in hand. I realized I had to be more aggressive when I looked at my bottle that was hardly touched. So off I went, to do what I do best... mingle. With some wine the worries went away and I was learning the game. But the highlight came when the crazy Portuguese guys brought out their precious port from the 1980's and started rationing it out to the line of wine lovers. In partners of newly made friends, we ran over to the chocolate cake table to see how delicious this pairing really could be...and let me tell you.. after 4 doses of port and probably an entire cake...I was set for the evening! What an awesome end to the night and beginning to a memorable wine conference weekend.
- AFTER PARTY HOTEL GATHERINGS:
I like to think of our hotel crew as being the coolest, I mean we had Robbin from Vineyard Adventures, Luiz Alberto from the Wine Hub, and Andrè and Emidio from Adegga just to name a few. Before coming into the event, I preached to myself about how I wanted to go to bed early and feel good because I was so honored to be a part of this. Well, my idea changed when every night a crowd would just hang out and drink their secret bottles of the good stuff. Here too, I realized that I had to make the most of every moment possible and these more intimate occasions were definitely some of the most special along with more port!
- FRANCIACORTA TASTING:
Doing the walk-around tasting at about 40 Franciacorta stands on Friday was great fun but also very informative. Each winery had a sommelier available to answer questions. However, considering that most of the people attending had sommelier certificates, the best way to learn was to taste together with someone who could guide you through the tasting. This is what I did to gain confidence in my own discoveries and compare them with the pros. My two favorite Franciacortas were: 1) the Ca' del Bosco Anna Maria Clementi 2003 (aged on the lees for 6 years!) and named after the winemaker's mother and 2) Villa Crespia Muratori's Numero Zero Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero (48 months on lees, no residual sugar) where I could really smell nutty and peachy aromas.
- SECRET WINERY VISIT AND DINNER MADE BY MICHELIN STAR CHEF:
Just to make things even better, they added a little mystery to the event by shipping us off on 4 different buses randomly and taking us to a mystery winery for a tour and dinner. Ours was Il Mosnel, one of the few that I was already familiar with from twitter and various wine events. But I was so excited because I love her wine and was curious to see the actual winery. Oh my god... it was amazing! It brought me back in time to an aristocratic estate where everything was perfectly manicured. We didn't just drink Il Mosnel Franciacorta but sat with the winemaker at our table and drank his Monte Rossa wines nicely paired with a high class meal!
- SATURDAY FUN
The morning was filled with workshops...I, of course, chose George Taber's storytelling hour (author of Judgement of Paris) where I felt honored to hear him speak about his experience and give us writing tips. Afterwards, we reunited with our new friends for lunch and soon after began a general Italian wine tasting. It was about time for some red! So the best part was that I won a prize and it was another coincidence because it was for Cascina I Carpini's Chiaror Sul Masso, one of my dear friends and favorite wines ever! This was presented in a beautiful Cromobox along with two other selected wines from Saveli. That night we ended the official conference with a beautiful dinner in the historical La Loggia and lots of wine! No more spitting. We all ditched the dinner for the after party where we let ourselves go, ate pizza and drank beer. That night I went to bed at 5 a.m. but it was worth it by all means. A great way to go out with a bang.
Finally I would like to thank all those who donated to the scholarship fund and made this possible for me. This experience is something that I will never forget especially for all the people I met and everything they taught me. Thank you Gabriella, Ryan and Robert for doing such a great job in organizing this all...I can't wait for next year...now I am hooked!