First I must apologise for my hiatus, but believe me, my month-long absence was with a reason. I had the privilege to attend the inaugural Vinitaly International Academy certification course, with 54 other top-notch wine professionals including sommeliers, educators, journalists and consultants from around the world. This wasn’t just a personal mission to succeed in the course, but I intended to show Singapore on an international stage. I hope I did.
The actual program, held in Verona, consisted four days with both theoretical and tasting sessions with Dr Ian D’Agata, and couple out-of-class learning opportunities with an Amarone consortium and Franciacorta producer. The sheer number of Italian’s native varieties were stunning, and the tasting sessions guided by Ian were vital to refresh our opinion on certain grape varieties. It didn’t take us long to realise this course wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, and along the way, also learnt Pinot Grigio can actually smell of strawberries.
Indeed, it wasn’t a walk in the park. Ian covered areas on genetics and DNA testing in the class, trying to explain the efficacy of modern technologies in identifying grape varieties. A field of study that, Ian pointed out, should be known as “ampelology” instead of “ampelography”. Armed with basic but adequate understanding of biology from my university days, I was probably among the few who can nod in agreement when Ian was going through the specificities involving biotypes, genotypes, phenotypes and simple sequence repeat.
As I saw how difficult it was for some attendees, the mission of Vinitaly International Academy was clearer to me. It is important for the Italians to have a common voice that speaks consistently of their place in the global wine industry, communicate their cultural and ecological uniqueness to the world. I believed incorrect information had been transmitted many times without scientific backing and with details, which then resulted in continuous misunderstanding and confusion as the information propagate from one source to another. I can only pray that the stuff I had written were sufficiently researched, and this can only be ascertained with peer review. Then again, you cannot trust peer review these days.
Now having returned from Verona and certified as an Italian Wine Ambassador, what’s next?
There are still many things with work-in-progress status but will materialise during later part of the year. But at this point of time, I am confident to say a Vinitaly International Academy class will very likely take place in Singapore, together with parts of the world where other Italian Wine Ambassadors live in.