Last week, the Amistà farm and winery was thrilled to learn that its wine had been poured at the Slow Food University of Gastronomic Sciences about an hour by car from where the farm’s vineyards are located.
The Slow Food campus lies on the other side of the Tanaro River to the west, in Piedmont’s Roero subregion. Founded in 2004 by the Slow Food movement in conjunction with the Italian government, it was built on the grounds of one of King Victor Emmanuel II’s private estates in Pollenzo hamlet (Bra commune).
Its mission was “to create an international research and education center for those working on renewing farming methods, protecting biodiversity, and building an organic relationship between gastronomy and agricultural science.”
Today, it is a fully accredited and internationally recognized university, including leading undergrad and graduate programs that have forged and continue to produce a new generation of food and wine industry leaders and pioneers.
The Slow Food University was an outgrowth of Slow Food publishing, which is, in turn, the progeny of the Slow Food movement. Slow Food founded by activist and essaying Carlo Petrini in Bra in 1986 as a counterpoint to the “fast-foodization” of Italian gastronomy and the Italian lifestyle.
For nearly four decades, Slow Food has worked to document, preserve, and promote traditional Italian food products, foodways, and wines.
Amistà’s wine was poured on the last day of a seminar on wine communications for the students in the graduate program in food sciences. It was a part of a lecture on the “tyranny of the tasting note,” a notion developed by New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov in his 2012 “memoir and manifesto” How To Love Wine (Harper Collins).
The modern tasting note, as crystallized by wine-focused publications like Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator (both established in the second half of the 1970s), has become the hegemonic medium and platform for wine criticism in the western world. Yet it remains plagued by idiosyncrasies and less than scientific methodology.
After examining multiple examples of classic tasting notes, the students then tasted Amistà’s classic Nizza DOCG and privately composed their own notes, which they later shared with the group. The divergence of perspectives served as an illustration of the tasting note fallacy.
The students also had the opportunity to learn about the Amistà project and the Nizza DOCG appellation, a relatively new designation among Italy’s top wines. Along the way, the students learned that more general knowledge about a given wine offers a more solid foundation on which to compose an evaluation of said wine’s quality.
Of course, Amistà in this instance had an “inside person”: Jeremy Parzen, our blog master and U.S. brand ambassador, has been an adjunct professor in the graduate program at Slow Food U. for more than seven years!