Press Trip to Asolo
Day 3 - Parting is such Sorrow
Well day one and day two have shown Asolo at its best. The people have been warm, generous and welcoming at every turn, with hospitality being what one expects from a nation so involved with the idea of family, entertaining and enthusiasm.
The repas has been excellent with a wide variety of food served amply to eager people with excited tastebuds, and no meal was the same on any evening.
This turned us into enjoyment enthusiasts who talked with everybody as we enthused in a relaxed atmosphere that brought us all together in a mixture of quest and bonding; like a family!
I'd missed one day before I arrived, and unfortunately, Winefullness duties were taking me home a day earlier. Curse other wine work for getting in the way.
In Asolo, everywhere is a hive of activity, even when that activity seems so basic. A waiter in a bar gesticulates as though his life depends upon it, while a shopkeeper in his small shop argues the price of his wares as though the two euros I have saved will take food from his mouth of his children and make his wife fall out of love with him.
If there is a secret to Asolo, and the three days I have been here only provides snapshots of adventure to comment upon, it is the overwhelming love the people have for their wines, their food and their wonderful small, but beautiful town. I don't know how my colleagues have felt, but from the various conversations, I'd say that Italy has represented itself well and worn it's best party dress for us visitors.
Here, you sit in squares as conversations seep into your brain and make you smile. In Asolo, enthusiasm is the currency of choice, and as you muse what is in your glass like a parent watching a child growing up, that same waiter comes out and gives a suspicious look as though people are about to sneak off without paying, or dare to criticise, but not me! I've already paid, and my only criticism is the temptation to sample yet another steely Asolo's Prosecco when time is against me!
As I finally sip the last of my sparkler, I'm taken right back to a young lad who was 18 and knew next to nothing about Italy (don't forget that for a young man from northern England; spaghetti was tinned, wine was always cradled in a wicker basket, and every woman, and one or two of the men looked either like Sophie Loren or Gina Lollobrigida). Reality is always so much better!
After a light breakfast, we board out trusty coach and head to a tasting at Dal bello. The first stop was the original location of the winery. It's authentic, but feels as though the past has been kidnapped and made part of the modern wine tourist industry. Our host , who is also the boss, gives us the tour and shows us what will soon be available to the general public.
I particularly love the weapons of mass vinification, and as we walk a small way down a hill, we're once again greeted with a vista that almost make you blasé about about the word beauty after so many other breath-taking vistas. Stunning views against a backdrop of mighty impressive mountains that towered over the undulating valley is there before us. I’m starting to think that Asolo means 'spoilt' in Italian!
Afterwards, we head for snacks and samples in his new winery lower in the valley. The wines were convincing proof that Prosecco is a wine that shouldn't be taken for granted.
There we were, salivating at the close proximity of the food to accompany our tasting, when, without warning, a rowdy party of Italians crowded the table as though queuing to get into a football match.
Our party battled well, and though we were outnumbered, I think that we acquitted ourselves well. Thankfully this wasn’t lunch, because we’re a group who have been spoilt by the notion of an ample, well-prepared lunch, and will accept no substitute.
This was to take place after a tour of Villa Sandi. I was getting a little edgy knowing that I would soon have to leave my new found journalistic family after shaking hands with more pleasure than might be good for us.
I still managed to enjoy the two wines they gave us, before we were taken on a tour that ended in the epic Villa Sandi, itself. A Georgian stately home of a property that is built in the true Italian design.
Following this we went through a tunnel that lead us past plenty of stored bottles before disgorging us by our bus. This took us to the restaurant and yet another excellent meal that was served with intriguing wines and enthusiastic conversation of which one can never get ones fill.
There was invention in the air with the pairings, and we all earned our stripes as we searched for the unusual to go with these crazily good wines.
All too soon my host came to tell me that my taxi to Venice Marco Polo had arrived, and after the fraternal brother and sisterhood I had experienced over the last couple of days, this solitary journey felt strange and disconnected.
At the airport I still managed to sample a couple of sparklers before boarding, including a lovely Opere from, you’ve guessed it, Villa Sandi.
In the next section I’ve not listed all the wines we tried, but have gone more for a cross section of those available and those that should be sought out to sample Asolo at its best.
This is a place that has grown in my heart in such a short time. I'll always remember and long to return to. The wines have become my Prosecco of choice; not just because of the epic memories, but because the taste sets it above the norm, with a steely minerality devoid of the slightly metallic taste of the container it's made within. If you think you've tried Prosecco, try the Asolo version, and you'll only be going back for more.
As I write this end piece, I'm still grappling with a deeper understanding that I'll probably never get near to, but still I can dream, and what is travelling but the dream of seeing and the dream of memory!