This past Thursday I attended the 27th Edition of Gala Italia. As they put it, “a wine, food, art, design, music, and fashion extravaganza”, with the emphasis on food and wine.The event took place at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in the heart of Times Square. I have attended the event several times in the past. It is a huge event, in one of the larger event spaces in the hotel with six long rows of table with various Italian wines. The event this year was scaled back from the previous years. There were a few empty tables, and where last year they had Italian actors, a fashion show and a lot of Vespas, this year they had a few paintings and a few songs from the Italian singer, Federico Martello. The lousy sound system made that feel like karaoke night at the local pub. A few of the attendees told me with the current bad economic situation in Europe, the government cut back funding to the trade associations. In addition to the wines being presented, several local Italian restaurants had food stations serving bits of food so they was plenty of good pasta, prosciutto and cheese to compliment the wines.
I have been to this event before and I know that not many of the Italian superstar wines are poured at the event. My first stop of the evening was at the Biondi Santi table. Biondi Santi are famous for their Brunello. I was never a fan of the wines, I thought the wines weren’t as good as the reputation (and high prices). For once I was pleasantly surprised. From what I understand , the winery has been upgrading the quality of it’s products. I enjoyed the 2006 Brunello, big nose of tar and leather with silky firm tannins on the finish. I also sampled the 2008 Rosso di Montelcino and the 2004 Brunello Reserva.
I stopped at one of the food booths for a quick bite and had some excellent aged Pecorino cheese. Crunchy, salty, and nutty, I needed a big red to wash it down with. Fortunately the table across from them were the wines from the Arcanum Winery. They poured three wines from the 07 vintage. Arcanum I, Valdorna, and Il Faunodi Arcanum. All of the wines were blends in various proportions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Very new world, dark, dense with black fruit flavors. Went great with the sharp cheese.
I stopped by Castello di Gabbiano to try some of their Chianti Classicos and Super Tuscans. I enjoyed the 08 “Bellezza” which is their single vineyard Chianti Classico, 100% Sangiovese. Big nose, dusty mediterranean spices on the fruit with a long finish. I had the 08 “Alleanza” which is a blend of Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Mouthfull of silky tannins with a long finish
At the Casetello di Querceto table I enjoyed the 06 “La Corte” which is 100% Sangiovese. Nose of old smokey leather,silky fruit, with firm tannins on the finish. The 06 “Il Querciolaia” which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese and was dark with black cherry fruit with a long finish. Both very nice wines.
At another table I enjoyed the Tenuta Santa Maria Valverde 09 Valpolicella Classico Superiore. It is a Riposso style, dark, medium fruit with a good balance on the finish.
The event space was huge but it never got very crowded I don’t think that they got the crowd they were hoping for. Since the weather was not to blame in my opinion many people from the trade were scared off by the fee charged.