Imagine a grey and chilly day in Veneto, lost on the white roads winding up through the autumnal vineyards, dressed in swathes of copper and gold leaves. The purpose? To discover what itʼs really like to prepare for the infamous Master of Wine Exam. How may wines do MW students taste during their studies? Well, if our three top Italian MW students are anything to go by, the answer is at least 160. Andrea Lonardi , COO of Bertani, Pietro Russo, Enologist at Donnafugata and Gabriele Gorelli, the first Italian MW (newly minted in Feb 2021) welcomed a handful of guests to share the collection of wines they had amassed for their tasting study sessions leading up to their exam in October. Against the backdrop of a lovely historic villa nestled in the hills north east of Verona, the Three Musketeers had studied, tasted and prepared.
Today was our day to taste like an MW in an informal setting of friends and colleagues, all supported by a delicious fish based lunch prepared by Emanuele Russo, Sicilian chef from Marsala and cousin of Pietro. We were generously treated to 160 wines, ranging in price from the lowest to the highest of the high, from producers representing every important winemaking region of the world. Never before has there been a tasting of this caliber, this breadth and depth of international wines, in such a warm and genuine atmosphere where everyone was there to learn and enjoy. True hospitality and a real spirit of sharing was ably demonstrated by our Three Musketeers, who not only shared their wines but also talked openly about their experiences in the MW program, their travels and travails throughout, and the wines they collected over their years of study. All the wines were on the table, literally and figuratively, and all the guests were able to taste and smell, touch the bottles, go back and forth between styles, and enjoy a unique opportunity to experience this carefully curated collection of wines, that we all hope will elevate our Italian MW students into that rarified echelon of Master of Wine. Now we understand what it takes, a hard job, but someone has to do it. And Next year? Another “Illasi Wine Festival”? We can only hope.