In the months leading up to this year’s Vinitaly, the Italian wine trade’s annual fair in Verona, Amistà’s owner Michele Marsiaj received a very special invitation to take part in a seminar conducted by Wine Spectator senior editor Bruce Sanderson. The event would be an informal seminar on the Nizza DOCG, wrote Bruce’s assistant. She asked that Michele bring two bottles of a wine that he would like to present.
But that was it. No other information was provided.
On Sunday, day one of the fair, Michele and his winemaker Luca D’Attoma made their way through the drizzle to the fair ground’s Palaexpo, where nearly all the fair’s seminars and press conferences are held.
After being checked in by Bruce’s assistant, Michele and Luca noticed that nearly all the biggest names in the Nizza DOCG were filing through the entrance. It doesn’t take a stretch of imagination to figure out who was in attendance. It was a veritable who’s who from the Piedmont wine world, including the historic family who currently serves as the president of the Nizza DOCG consortium.
No one knew quite what to expect on that cloudy, wet afternoon. But when Bruce finally arrived, all was revealed.
“I want you to teach me about Nizza,” he said when he got settled. As Michele, Luca, and the other producers soon learned, he wasn’t there to speak about Nizza: He wanted to the producers and growers to share their insights with him as the group tasted through the entire flight of wines that had been assembled.
A lively discussion and dialog ensued, with Bruce asking each producer and grower to share what they feel makes Nizza such a unique appellation; how the soil types and growing practices vary; and how the wines’ aromas and flavors are shaped by the subzones where they are produced and the winemakers’ personal style.
It was an incredible and, some would say, even historic tasting: The Nizza DOCG, everyone agreed, is just starting to make waves throughout the world and people are just beginning to take note.
If Barolo is Nebbiolo what Nizza is to Barbera, then it won’t be long before Wine Spectator readers — U.S. connoisseurs and collectors — are going to want to find out more.
Michele and Luca couldn’t have been more thrilled to have been chosen for this prestigious event. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that 10 years from now, we’ll all look back on the Vinitaly tasting as a seminal moment in the appellation’s arc. And Amistà was there!