Press Trip To Asolo
Day 2 - Can it get any better?
There’s no rest for this weary wine hunter as Sunday begins, and out we go at 9am to a Masterclass on the nuances of Asolo Prosecco. We might all be tired from a late night, but the excitement is difficult to hide, and we all want more of the same please.
In Asolo itself is the typically wonderful poetic Villa Freya. This airy, light, big mansion was once the property of the legendary Freya Stark, who if we're to believe our tour guide, and all the information the internet can throw at us (so why disbelieve) was a travel writer, and possible spy for the British during the Second World War. The more I hear about this fascinating character, the more I want to know. The name is vaguely familiar, but we learn that she was one of those early twentieth century British empire builders who was ahead of her time, went where the whim took her, settled in Italy and lived a life that books are written about and films made.
Our happy band gibber about this and that, mostly wine of course, but in the lightest of ways.
We're guided upstairs to a large ornate room where the class will take place, and the sight of glasses and tasting paraphernalia turns us into a lively, and happy, bunch who share opinions and observations about wines that we now realise (if we didn’t before) Asolo produces differently Prosecco to the dross one often sees lining the shelves of supermarkets.
I think that the wines of Asolo have greater depth, structure, pairing potential, minerality and variation than those of its nearby famous cousin. Drinking wine here, one really understands the marriage of place and people.
Following the class, which is lead by one of the promoters of Asolo wines, who is a very pleasant man with enthusiasm that touches us all, there is a lunch that does the Asolo orgnisation proud, and shows that, to me, the idea of terroir in Italy is more to do with family, sharing experiences and good food.
The courses are huge in number, but unlike yesterday, the portions are small and manageable.
The location reminds me of the sixties television show, 'The Prisoner', and I do feel that if one has to remain in one place for the rest of your life, then this might not be a bad place to lay ones head!
I look at my fellow journalists and see that they feel exactly the same. Oh bliss!
In truth, I just want to sit with my companions, sipping this Asolo nectar, going back for more delightful food and discussing how impressed we all are with what we've encountered.
We find that we have a spot of time to try and get lost in the streets of Asolo, and after window shopping, and wondering how I might smuggle all the bottles I'm planning to buy, I settle inside a bar that lies opposite the fountain.
I find a pew inside and take my time over a cold drink. The temperature is baking outside and I've no wish to have skin that resembles an embarrassed lobster, so the cool tile of the walls and stone floor inside are just right.
Later, there is yet another well-prepared meal we attend. The winemaker whose wines we are sampling leads us through the various pairings one could make.
It's a joyous occasion that marries the idea of food, wine and company to perfection. Surely, this is what life means in Italy? The Italians excel at this, and their wines are never meant to be drunk in isolation, but in the company of people and food. Now, how can you possibly criticise a nation that offers this to the world.