Three young Spanish sommeliers discovering Italian wines

Carlos Cuenca is 27 years old and for the last 4 years he has been working as a sommelier at the starred restaurant “Orobianco” in Calpe, near Alicante. Aitor Maiztegui is 30 years old and for 2 years he is cellar master at the prestigious “Eneko Atxa”, in the heart of Bilbao. Gonzalo Rodríguez, 30 years old, is originally from Granada and since 5 years he has been working as assistant sommelier at “Pinkleton & Wine”, one of the coolest wineries of the popular “Mercado de San Miguel” in Madrid.

But above all they are the winners of the third edition of the competition for young sommeliers “ITmakES – Prepara tu Futuro” – organized by the Italian Embassy in Spain, ICE Office in Madrid and the Italian Chamber of Commerce for Spain. Arrived at ALMA on September 27th, after the due anti Covid-19 controls, they started a program in our School for a week until October 5th to deepen their knowledge of Italian wines and wineries.

The training course includes classroom lessons and field trips to the main Italian wine regions, in particular Piedmont, Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, with the opportunity to discover the secrets of prestigious wines such as Barolo, Barbera, Chianti and Lambrusco.  The experience will also allow participants to get to know the production sites of some iconic Italian products such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and to deepen the Italian gastronomic tradition in order to fully exploit the possibilities of matching and enhancing the best “Made in Italy” wines.

Despite the difficulties of recent months, we are happy that we can safely start this very special training experience, dedicated to three young and promising Spanish sommeliers – said the Ambassador of Italy in Madrid, Riccardo Guariglia -. On the other hand, just in a complicated moment like the one we are experiencing, Italian institutions in Spain wish to confirm their commitment to bring our two countries closer and continue to invest in the training of young people and their future. I am particularly pleased that this path of increasing proximity between our countries can be realized in the field of food and wine, which already deeply unites Italy and Spain in the name of the Mediterranean diet“.

In such a complex year for Italy and Spain – added Ciro Fontanesi, Coordinator of the “ALMA Wine Academy”it’s nice to receive at our School the Spanish sommeliers who won the competition held last year by Italian institutions in Spain as part of the “Week of Italian Cuisine in the World“. This is the third training cycle that we organize for talented young Spanish sommeliers so that they can get to know directly on the territory the extraordinary complexity and quality of our wine production. We are strongly convinced of the value of knowing by hand, territories, cultures and traditions that distinguish the great food and wine biodiversity of our country. In fact, thanks to this collaboration with the Italian Embassy in Madrid, we are spreading expertise that, over time, will be very precious to represent our excellence in a country as rich in food and wine tradition as Spain“.

The three winners were awarded in November 2019 on the occasion of the “Week of Italian Cuisine in the World”, an event promoting Italian food and wine promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that every year showcases the excellence of “Made in Italy” cuisine in Spain. The exhibition is funded by the integrated promotion plan “VivereALL’Italiana”.


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