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)