Tuesday, February 17, 2015


The Grandest Italian Wine Event Ever Held Outside of Italy

Story and Photos by Dwight Casimere

NEW YORK--The Waldorf Astoria was the setting for Italian Wine Week and Convention, Celebrating the Wines of Southern Italy. The event returned to New York for the first time since 2011 with over 200 delegates representing the producers and importers from some of Italy's most significant estates.  Pier Paolo Celeste, the Italian Trade Commissioner  Executive Director for the USA presided over the event which included industry seminars, focused tastings, casual walk-around samplings and elaborate dinners featuring the renowned cuisine of the Waldorf Astoria and the grand surroundings of the Starlight Roof, Vanderbilt Room and Empire Room. Participants were transported to a Roman Pallazo within the confines of midtown Manhattan.

Seminars ranged from weighty subjects such as The Impact of Climate Change in the World's Vineyards to explorations of Puglia's Wine Riches and the Captivating Wines of Calabria. On a lighter note, the convention explored the relationship between wine and the arts with Vino e Musica: The International Language, which combined wine tasting sensations with music appreciation. Jon Morrell, a renowned opera tenor and representatives from the music worlds of jazz, blues, country and R and B explored the relationship between wine and music with Moderator Michael Dorf, the Founder of City Winery, which has combined entertainment venues restaurants and wine bars in both New York and Chicago.

Speakers anbd Paneliest included Jessica Altieri, Founder and CEO of the Wine Channel TV Network, Charlie Arturaola, wine writer and Communicator of the Year in 2012 by the International Wine and Spirits Competition and Scott Carney, Master Sommelier and Dean of Wine Studies at the International Culinary Center in New York.

The Wines of Italy-Distinguished Service Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony honored, among others, Sharron McCarthy, Vice President, Wine Education, Banfi Vintners, the person who made the sparkling wine Lambrusco a household name, Harry Mariani, Founder of Banfi Vintners and Romano Chetti, President, Siena Imports of San Francisco. Banfi dominated the induction ceremony withthree honorees. Minister Natalia Quintavalle, Consul General of Italy, gave opening remarks preceded by Welcome remarks by Trade Commissioner Executive Director for the USA Pier Paolo Celeste.

The primary focus, of course, was the wine, which is among the finest in the world. The Grand Tasting encompassed a cornucopia of wines from Campania, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily. For more information visit italianmade.com and follow on twitter at @VirtualVino #Vino2015, Facebook: facebook.com/virtualvino  #Vino2015.

 Banfi Vintners Vice President-Wine Education Sharron McCarthy is inducted into the  Wines of Italy Hall of Fame as is (below) Robrerto Strollo, Banfi Vintners Advisor, Cru Artisan Wines

 Below: Jennifer Mariani accepts the Hall of Fame honor for Banfi Vintners Founder Harry Mariani

 The Wines of Italy-Distinguished Service Hall of Fame luncheon in the Vanderbilt Room

 Italian Fashion was to be seen everywhere
 Opera tenor Jon Morrell in the seminar, Vino e Musica
 The wine, of course, is everything!

 Fred Dexheimer MS, Juiceman Consulting in the Vino e Musica seminar
 Tasting sessions were engrossing and intense

With Fred Dexheimer, my instructor for Sommelier Certification at the International
Culinary Institute in New York

Below: faces at the Grand Tasting



NEW YORK-Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan the Grand Hall at Union Station Chicago and
The Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco , were the settings for the national tour of the wines awarded Italy's highest wine honor. Tre Bicchieri (three glasses) is the designation given to Italy's top wines by Gambero Rosso(the red prawn or shrimp), an  authority on all things Italian that relate to food, wine and travel. Founded in 1986, it is a media conglomerate that publishes a magazine, has an online publication and operates a 24/7 broadcast facility, cooking school and culinary academy with massive TV studios and demonstration kitchens named Citta del Gusta (City of Taste)  in Rome and Naples. Think Bon Appetit magazine, the Food Network and the Culinary Institute of America all under one roof.

So it is that Gambero Rosso and its panel of judges annual select the top Italian wines to be honored from a field of more than 200 producers and 20,000 wines. The annual tasting presentation of the Gambero Rosso Guide to Italian Wines is one of the most anticipated events of the year for wine aficionados.

Among the standouts at this year's presentation was Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2011($24.95). Winner of two glasses (due bicchieri) in the Gambero Rosso competition, this Veronese IGT is a vibrant, bold Iatlian red that speaks of its flavor character by its lush ruby color alone. Poured personally by Allegrini's brand ambassador and head of sales, Marilisa Allegrini, a sixth generation family member, the wine displayed pronounced flavors of dark cherries, ripe, almost dried plums and jam. Aging provided overtones of smoke and dark chocolate while the lingering taste of salt taffy and a whiff of crushed violets completed the experience. The wine is a Corvina Blend that speaks to the land and the local grapes. Local Corvina and Rondinella grapes were vinified at harvest, while the remaining Sangiovese, the indigenous backbone of Italian wine, was allowed to dry in "passito" until it becomes a dark raisin. The concentrated juice is then blended into the wine for a second fermentation, which gives the wine depth and body. This is a perfect wine with dry aged steak, hearty red-sauced pasta or "Mamma's" Lasagna or for contemplation with a good Cuban cigar (now legal!) and a roaring fire.

My good friend Jamie Stewart from Cantine Ferrari poured his fabulous Ferrari Brut Perle' 2007 ($38.99) ferom Trentino in northeastern Italy, not far from Venice. This mouth-watering, expressive wine almost explodes in the mouth with flavors of crisp Asian pears, hints of Meyer lemon and lingering flavors of crystallized ginger and toasted almonds. It is the most refined expression of the "methodo classico" that Italian sparkling wine has to offer and a steal at this price.

Bettina Rogosky was on hand to pour her Tre Bicchieri winner, Il Caberlot 2010 ($133). This IGT blend has become a benchmark for Italian "Super Tuscans." A mono-varietal wine made from a mystery proprietary grape clone described as a mix of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, this is a rare wine indeed. The producers, Podere Il Carnasciale, and winemaker Peter Schilling, have created quite a stir in the close-knit world of Tuscan wine with this stunning offering. The dark garnet color nearly shimmers. The wine is only sold in magnum bottles, and that should give some clue as to the quality inside. Dark and rich, the wine reveals layer upon layer of flavor the longer it sits in the glass. The wine is well-balanced and food-friendly, yet, it stands on its own as a wine for contemplation. One could not ask for a more satisfying drinking experience. For more on award-winning Italian wines, visit gamberorosso.it.

Cantine Ferrari Brand Ambassador Jamie Stewart with his exquisite Perle' and (below) Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore '04

 With Marilisa Allegrini of Allegrini Wines of Veneto
Below: The celebratory tasting at Tre Bicchieri

 Il Caberlot's Bettina Rogosky
 Leah Santos-volunteer and graduate of St. John's in Communications and Marketing
Below: More interesting faces in the crowd at Tre Bicchieri

Gambaro Rosso Senior Editor Marco Sabellico (right) with Luca Di Ferrari of Boscarelli-Siena, Montepulciano (left)

Monday, January 26, 2015

BENVENUTO BRUNELLO 2015-presented by the Consortium of the Brunello di Montalcino

Diverse soils, geography and climate create spectacular wines

Story and photo gallery by Dwight Casimere

 The Consortiium of the Brunello of Montalcino Wines brought more than a hundred of its best wines from 40 renowned wineries in this unique Mediterranean paradise in Italy's famed Tuscany region to the elegant confines of Gotham Hall in midtown Manhattan and The Fairmont Hotel atop San Francisco's Nob Hill to reveal for the first time in the U.S. the Brunello di Montalcino 2010, along with their Brunello di Montalcino Rioserva 2009, Rosso di Montalcino 2013, Sant'Antimo and Moscadello di Montalcino. The events, only open to qualified members of the wine trade and the media were at the top of the list for connoisseurs anxious to taste some of Europe's most spectacular wines.

Montalcino is the crown jewel of Tuscany with a Mediterranean climate and complex soil variations that make for exquisite wines. Each area produces wines that are distinct to its micro-climate, hence the bredth of flavor and texture exhibited by each of the wines. Their lush, robust fruit-forward character is balanced by delicate floral notes and subtle hints of herbs, spices, tobacco and chocolate all wrapped around a firm spine of pronounced body and acidity. These are terrific wines with food or enjoyed alone for contemplation or with aged cheeses or a good cigar.

The wines presented at the tastings were as different as the geographic locations of the wineries they came from: from the Mediterranean breezes of coastal estates, to the sunny slopes and sun-drenched hills inland, the wines present a diversity of character that is unique. The production area is bounded by water, rocks and rivers, with mount Amiata protecting the southernmost border from cloudbursts and hailstorms from the atmosphere and its 'sides' washed by the Siena's most important rivers.

Made primarily from Tuscany's indigenous Sangiovese grape, some of the wines tasted were like visiting with old friends; Banfi, Talenti, Bottega and Capanna. Others were revelations.

Among the favorites: Banfi Brunello di Montalcinho DOCG Poggio Alle Mura 2010-$70, a 100% Sangiovese Banfi clonal selection with a limited production of only 40,000 bottles. This wine has distinct flavors of dark red fruit; blackberries, currant and casis with a backnote of cinnamon bark and a hint of tobacco. Likewise Barbi Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Vigna del Fiore 2010-$45, a 100% Sangiovese with a total production of only 4,000 bottles, is a rare beauty with complex dark fruit flavors and floral notes that seem to unfuld the longer they sit in the glass. This is a wine to be purchased now, then laid down in a temperature-controlled cellar. Resisting the temptation to drink a bottle or two now with a Prime Aged Steak is a temptation that you should not deprive yourself of.
With prices ranging from $30-$200, the wines represent a real bargain when you consider their quality in comparison to comparable wines from France or the Napa Valley which trump them with price tags double that and more.  Look for the wines of Brunello di Montalcino at your local wine shop. Don't hesitate to dig deep and buy a number of different labels. You'll be both surprised and deeply satisfied with the bounty of treasures to be explored in the glass and on the palate.

 The splendid confines of Gotham Hall New York City
 Il Marroneto-Brunello di Montalcino
 The focused tasting of Brunello di Montalcino
 Zachary Harris of Ika, LLC and The Black Winer.com

 Caparzo Brunello was among the nine wines tasted at the seminar

 Lars Leicht of Cru Artisan wines, the Luxury Selections of the Banfi Portfolio
 Aj Ojeda-Pons, Sommelier, The Lambs Club, New York
 Seema Parthasarathy-Terlato Wines
 Buddy Kenney-Panebianco wines New York
 Silvia Hernandez Pinino wines
 Rick Sasso (l) and Antonio Marchiano of Holland Liquors, Clinton, New Jersey
 The Grand Tasting at Gotham Hall and its participants

 Giovanna Neri of Col di Lamo S.S.
 Karen Sendelbach of New York and Rome

 Mirco Bilioirsi of Caparzo wines
 Amadeo Cencioni of Capanna wines
 Daniela Cester of Bottega wines
 Raffaella Guidi Federzoni pf Fattoria dei Barbi
 Nicole Yetman-Top Hat Food and Wine Consultants
Ibrahim Soifone-Karitta Imports

Max Hernandez of Pinino wines (l) with Pepe Schib of Tenut`a San Giorgio