Learning from the Masters: Wine Academy

How The Little Nell Wine Academy Can Elevate Your Wine Game

Wines were tasted. Toasts were made. Friendships were forged.

And, at the end of the 2019 Little Nell Wine Academy, a group of 14 wine connoisseurs from across the country celebrated their graduation from what has quickly become a cornerstone of wine education.

The reasons for the Academy’s success are clear: two days of comprehensive courses focused on wine and spirits, food pairings and service led by Master Sommeliers — and all set in the breathtaking splendor of the members-only Aspen Mountain Club atop Ajax.

In this, the third year of the Academy, the lens turned to Italy as Master Somms Carlton McCoy, Jay Fletcher and Sabato Sagaria took the class on a journey from north to south tasting wines from regions ranging from Piedmont and Campania to Veneto and Umbria (and everywhere in between).

“It’s Italy, we must speak with our hands,” laughed Sagaria as he introduced the wines poured during day two’s luncheon — Colpetrone, Sagrantino, Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG, Umbria 2011 and a Bucci, Verdicchio, Verdicchio del Castelli di Jesi DOC, Marche 2017, the perfect complements to a repast of Pasta e Fagioli, Veal Saltimbocca served with artichokes, garlic, lemon, and extra virgin olive oil, and Chestnut & Walnut cake topped with basil gelato.

In fact, every moment of the Academy was bathed in Italian culture. From the seminars and tastings to the final exam and surprise gala, students were enveloped in the sights, smells and tastes of Italy.

“It’s a little raw, rough, rugged,” noted wine writer Kelly J. Hayes while tasting the deep reds of the Southern Italian Islands.

Still, the beauty of Italy resonated. And, on the final evening, a touching moment as The Little Nell’s longtime Wine Director McCoy said his goodbyes as he moves on to his next adventure — leaving behind a wine legacy that will forever include The Little Nell Wine Academy.


All photos by Riccardo Savi.


Stay tuned for an announcement about The Little Nell Wine Academy 2020!