IWM Holiday Grand Tasting 2019


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Italian Wine Merchants (IWM) is a wine shop that, not surprisingly, specializes in Italian wines. It’s located at 108 East 16th Street across from Union Square Park in Manhattan.

Unusual for a wine store, they have a small room and a dedicated kitchen in the back of the shop that they use as a venue where they host wine dinners and wine tastings.

On the weekend after Thanksgiving Day they hosted their Black Friday mini grand tasting. On this Saturday afternoon, it was a casual walk-around tasting of 32 Italian wines. I’ve been to a few tastings at this venue and I know they pour quality juice. It was a mostly a red wine list with a couple of sparking wines, a rosé and a handful of whites thrown in. They poured a good representation of Italian wines from the North to the South of the boot.

As usual they put out a nice spread of food with good bread and an excellent selection of charcuterie. The kitchen cooked up a couple of tasty pasta dishes as well.

It’s a popular event and the crowd became a little thick at times but I was able to sample as many wines as I wanted, everyone was in a festive mood. My favorites of the afternoon were a couple of Nebbiolo based wines, the 2015 Luigi Giordano Barbaresco Asili and the 2015 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia.

Wines poured:

NV Cima da Conegliano Prosecco Extra Dry 2011 Castello Bonomi Franciacorta Brut Cru Perdu
2018 Cornarea Roero Arneis 2015 Drago Collio Friulano
2018 De Concilus Falanghia 2018 Masut da Rive Maurus Chardonnay
2015 Per Luna Cerasuolo 2016 Hilberg-Pasquero Vareij
2016 Hilberg-Pasquero 29.5 Per Alessandra Barbera d’Alba 2016 San Giuliano Barbera Fiore di Marcorino
2015 San Giuliano Barbaresco 2017 Scarzello Langhe Nebbiolo
2013 Scarzello Barolo 2015 Luigi Giordano Barbaresco Asili
2015 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia 2013 Gaja Costa Russi
2017 Masut da Rive Maurus Pinot Noir 2018 Per Linda Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
2017 Schiena Vini Salento Enneoro Negroamaro 2017 Schiena Vini Impero Primitivo di Manduria

2017 De Conciliis Donnaluna Anglianico

2010 De Conciliis Naima
2017 Begali Valpolicella Classico 2012 Nicolis Amarone dell Valpolicella Classico
2008 Giuseppe Quintarelli Rosso del Bepi 2014 La Corsa Settefinestre
2014 La Corsa Teroldego 2015 Trecciano Chianti Colli Senesi Riserva
2017 Collemattoni Rosso di Montalcino 2016 Le Mortelle Botrosecco Maremma
2011 Talenti Brunello di Montalcino

2012 Livio Sassetti Pertimali Brunello di Montalcino Riserva



Italian Heritage On Long Island


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Italy is one of the great wine-producing countries,vacillating between itself and France as the largest wine producer in the world. With a climate ideally suited to viticulture, wine had been a part of the country’s culture and everyday life for thousands of years. With more than 350 varieties, the peninsula is one big vineyard.

With millions of Italians migrating the New World and many to the New York City area, it was only natural that some of the ancestors of those immigrants would be a part of the burgeoning wine industry on Long Island.  

With that, Italian wine varietals are very rare at the north and south fork wineries. You would think with many varietals grown in the cooler areas of the Italian peninsula, that wine makers would adapt those grapes for Long Island. Channing Daughters Winery on the south fork grows several such as tocai friulano, lagrein, teroldego and ribolla gialla but on the north fork there is practically none grown. The only winery I remember making an effort to grow Italian varieties on the north fork was Southhold Farm + Cellars but they closed down and moved on to greener pastures in Texas.

I spent one Sunday afternoon stopping at some of the wineries owned by Italian-Americans.



Macari Vineyards  150 Bergen Avenue, Mattitiuck

Owners: Joseph and Alexandra Macari

This is one of two tasting rooms they have on the north fork. As with a typical Italian-American experience, in his youth Mr. Macari made wine with his grandfather in the basement of his grandfathers home in Corona, Queens. On this Sunday, the tasting was decked out in Christmas decorations and a good crowd of people.

2014 Red Blend “Dos Aquas” A blend of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Opaque dark red with a purple rim, roast coffee and crushed black fruit on the nose, thick and juicy with some hazelnut notes, moderate tannins and acids.



Raphael Vineyards  39390 Main Road, Peconic

Owners: Jack and Joan Petrocelli

A family built, owned and operated winery named for the owners father and that “continues a centuries old family tradition of winemaking”. There are tasting rooms in the north fork that are cozy and rustic but this is not one of them. This is a huge facility built to look like an Italian villa that often serves as a wedding venue.

2015 White Reserve “Primo” An interesting blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Riesling.  Dark gold with a honeyed nose with ripe tropical fruit though dry. The wine is starting to show its age and I think it’s past its prime.



Pugliese Vineyards  34515 Main Road, Cutchogue

Owner: The Pugliese Family

One of the original wineries out East established in 1980 and family owned and operated since. They were one of the first to make sparkling wines out East and the only winery I know on Long Island that grows Sangiovese (3-4 acres). They specialize in hand painted bottles and gift baskets which are on display in the understated tasting room.

2012 Sangiovese Clear medium red, crushed red fruit, black licorice and rosemary on the nose, soft red fruit with moderate to low tannins and some tartness at the end.




Fall Food & Wine Festa At Eataly


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On Friday October 5th I attended the Eataly Fall Food & Wine Fest which was held at the downtown store at 4 World Trade Center. That’s second Eataly to open in New York City, the first in 2010 at the former Toy Building on 5th Avenue in the Flatiron neighborhood of Manhattan. I’ve been to the Flatiron store many times but this was my first visit to the downtown store. Both stores are food theme parks where you can spend the entire day wandering around the store aisles eating and drinking.

Eataly is an Italian marketplace and mega store founded in 2007 in a former vermouth factory in Turin, Italy (A store I’ve been to). They now have stores worldwide and in Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston.

The food and wine festa featured over 40 regional Italian wines which were paired with small dishes from specific regions in Italy. I was an interesting mix of wines from several appellations and not surprisingly given the venue, the food was excellent.

I like the way the tasting was laid out. Instead of everyone crammed into a room, the wine and food stations were sprinkled throughout the store so you would have to stroll throughout the store to sample everything.

Some of my favorites:



Gnocchi con salsiccia e cime di rapa (Friuli) Gnocchi with sausage and broccoli rabe. (very delicious)

Halibut Barcaccia (Calabria) Halibut marinated in red wine vinegar, ginger and lime with Calabrian chilis. (loved the sweet, sour, salty combo on this)

Polenta Fritta (Trentino) Fried polenta with Parmigiano and rosemary.

Octopus Barcaccasi (Sardegna) Octopus marinated in extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar with potato, celery, chili flakes and sea salt.

Pane con Fonduta (Liguria) Housemade bread with a Parmigiano and Fontina dip.



Barone Pizzini: 2014 Saten Franciacorta,  NV Anima Extra Brut

Altesino: 2016 Rosso IGT,  2016 Rosso di Montalcino

Castello de Neive: 2013 Dolcetto d’Alba,  2015 Barberesco

Secodo Marco: 2013 Valpolicella Ripasso,  2011 Amarone

Boroli: 2012 Barolo Classico,  2012 Barolo Vittero

Tua Rita: 2016 Rosso dei Notri,  2014 Perlato del Bosco

Rainoldi: 2017 Rosso di Valtellina,  2017 Grumello

Colle Massari: 2014 Montecucco Riserva

Galardi: 2012 & 2013 Terra di Lavoro




Summer Fancy Food Show 2018

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The Summer Fancy Food Show was held in New York City on June 30-July 2nd and this year an additional day was added. This is the sister event to the Winter show held in San Francisco at the beginning of the year. The event was held at the Javits Convention Center at 655 West 34th Street in Manhattan.

It’s the largest specialty food show in North America and had many countries showcasing that country’s food products in addition to many small and large companies of specialty food products. There were a wide range of food products from A to Z. I strolled around the large venue sampling what I thought would be interesting, cured hams, many from Spain (with all due respect to my paesani, Spain has some of the best cured hams in the world), olives from around the world, and an eclectic selection of cheeses from small producers, many from the United States. There seemed to be many “healthy” snacks being marketed as well.  This years partner country was Greece.

The show wasn’t a wine fest but some producers had wine and cordials to sample.  VinItaly had a tasting bar which featured a rotating selection of regional Italian wines. When I stopped by they were pouring sparkling wines from the Trentino region which are not nearly as well-known as Prosecco.


Some wines I sampled:

2017 Macchie S. Maria Fiano di Avellino “Signifer”. Light yellow with a subtle  nose of hazelnuts, roast meat on the fruit, crisp acidity.

2009 Cantina della Vernaccia Vernaccia di Oristano “Juichissa”. Unusual white, clear brown, nutty, almond notes on the nose and fruit, very sherry like.

2016 Salton Winery Marselan. From Brazil’s oldest winery, Marselan is a hybrid blend between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, dark purple with crushed strawberry on the nose and big fruit.

2015 Salton Winery Tannat. Dark red with spice notes on the nose, chewy green nuts on the firm but balanced fruit, stem notes on the finish.

2012 Carash Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva. Dark red, roasted meat on the nose with bitter almond notes on the finish.

2013 Sartori Amarone. Dark red with an amber rim, crushed black fruit and tar on the nose, dense and juicy with bitter almond/cherry on the finish.




Italian Holiday Tasting

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Another Thanksgiving Day has come and gone and we are now on the home stretch of the holiday season with Christmas right around the corner. Italian Wine Merchants, a wine shop specializing in Italian wines located at 108 East 16th Street in Manhattan, threw a “mini grand” tasting on Saturday November 25th.

The wine shop throws many wine themed events throughout the year and their tastings are usually pretty solid with quality wines poured. This was their Black Friday edition which meant a nice discount from the regular price.  It was a walk-around tasting featuring 26 wines from an all Italian list (and one Champagne). It was a well thought out list with a nice variety of premium wines.

The wine shop is just down the block from Union Square Park, an historic intersection where New York City’s first commercial theater district was located. At this time of year a Christmas market is set up in the park and during the day one of the best farmers markets in the city selling local produce and products.


What I sampled:

NV Barone Pizzini Brut Franciacorta “Aminante” (Lombardy). Gold in color, honey, floral nose with green apple notes on the fruit.

NV Roger Coulon Brut Reserve de l’Hommée (Champagne). The non-Italian outlier of the tasting, light gold with green vegetable and bread dough on the nose, crisp.


2015 Antinori Castello della Sala Pinot Nero (Umbria). Medium red, spicy cinnamon on the nose, leather fruit with some tar on the finish.

2014 Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva (Tuscany). Medium red, tar, leather  on the nose, tight fruit with green herbs, firm finish.

2012 Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione (Tuscany). Medium red, tar, leather, violet on the nose, tight, bitter cherry fruit, firm finish.

2011 Castello dei Rampolla “Sammarco” (Tuscany). Dark red in color, nice perfume of pencil shavings, tar and red fruit, dusty crushed black fruit with a long, firm finish.

2015 Tenuta San Guido “Guidalberto” (Tuscany). Medium red, green bell pepper on the nose with tart red cherry fruit.

2014 Cerbaiona Rosso di Montalcino (Tuscany). Medium red, tar and crushed red cherry on the nose, dusty, black licorice fruit, balanced with tar notes on the finish.

2015 Guado al Tasso “Il Bruciato” (Tuscany). Medium red, red cherry and green herbs on the nose, tight, tree bark notes on the fruit, big astringent at the finish.

2014 Cerbaina Rosso IGT (Tuscany). Medium red, tar, graphite on the nose, red licorice and dusty tar on the firm, moderate to long finish.

2014 Le Mortelle “Bortrosecco” (Tuscany). Medium to dark red, green herbs, sour green bell pepper of the nose, tight with herb and leather notes, toast on the firm finish.

2012 Pian Delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany). Medium brick, tar on the nose, silky fruit with bitter cherry and crisp acids on the finish.

2012 Cerbaiona Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany). Medium brick, tar, graphite on the nose with silky tar and toasty notes on the medium fruit.

2013 Poderi Aldon Conterno Langhe Rosso (Piedmont). Medium red, cooked fruit notes, couldn’t get a handle on this wine, not sure if the bottle was bad or not.

2014 Prunotto Barbera d’Alba “Pian Romualdo” (Piedmont). Medium red, closed, plummy nose, tight and tart.

2010 Prunotto Barolo Bussia Riserva “Vigna Colonnello” (Piedmont). Light brick, big perfume of tar, camphor, tight and firm, tart finish.

2012 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo “Colonnello” (Piedmont). Medium brick with a sweet perfume of tar, graphite and sweet cherry, tight and dusty with big tannins at the end.

2013 Ada Nada Barberesco “Valeirano” (Piedmont). Brick in color with a pretty perfume of violets and roast meat, tight, roast nut notes on the fruit, ending with firm tannins.

2011 Bruno Giacosa Barberesco “Santo Stefano” (Piedmont). Light brick, tar, red cherry on the nose with dusty red cherry fruit ending with moderate tannin and acids.

2014 Nicolis Valpolicella Classico (Veneto). Medium brick, red flowers on the nose, moderate to light, tart fruit.

2011 Brigaldara Amarone “Casa Vecie” (Veneto). Medium amber, green fruit on the nose, bitter plum and dusty bell pepper on the fruit.

2012 Tormaresca Bocca di Lupo (Puglia). Medium red, crushed black fruit on the nose, concentrated, dark and dusty fruit ending with bitter black cherry notes.



Wine Spectator’s NY Wine Experience 2017

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The 37th annual Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience was held on October 19-21. It was three days of sit down seminars, wine pairing lunches, critics choice grand tastings ending with an awards banquet on Saturday night. The event was held at the Marriott Marquis hotel at 1535 Broadway in the heart of Times Square, Manhattan with all of the net proceeds going to the Wine Spectator’s scholarship fund.

Over 2,000 people attended the Grand Tastings each night on Thursday and Friday evenings which featured over 250, 90+ wines from some of the best wine regions in the word. I attended on Friday night.

What can I say, it was an embarrassment of riches with such an impressive choice of high-end juice that would take days to try them all. Unfortunately  I had one night so I had to focus my tasting. I decided on reds from Bordeaux and California Cabernet with the Italians at the end of the evening for a chance of pace.



2006 Hall Exzellenz “Sacrashe Vineyard” (Rutherford): Dark red to black, complex nose of crushed green herbs, red fruit, chewy dark chocolate fruit with green olives, coffee and dark chocolate on the firm but balanced finish.

2007 Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Martha’s Vineyard” (Napa Valley): Medium red to black, tar and mint on the nose, silky fruit, moderate tannins with herbs on the long finish. Delicious wine.

2007 Ridge Vineyards “Monte Bello” (Santa Cruz): Dark red with an amber rim, crushed sour cherry on the nose, chewy, black licorice and dark chocolate on the fruit, good grip.

2007 Ramey Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Annum” (Napa Valley): Amber in color, big tarry nose, cherry, tar and mint on the chewy fruit, nice balance.

2011 Diamond Creek “Red Rock Terrace” (Napa Valley): Dark red to black, green olives on the nose, tight, bright tarry fruit, good balance, long finish.

2012 Carter Cellars “To Kalon Vineyards” (Napa Valley): Black in color, crushed black fruit on the nose, chewy black fruit, juicy with firm tannins.

2012 Mt. Brave “Mt. Veeder” (Napa Valley): Black, crushed black fruit on the nose, chewy mint notes on the fruit, juicy and balanced.

2012 Ernest & Julio Gallo Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” (Sonoma): Black, sweet cherry on the nose, concentrated red cherry fruit, nice balance.

2013 Louis Martini “Monte Rosso” (Sonoma Valley): Black with crushed black fruit on the nose, chunky, chewy, juicy, mint notes on the fruit, balanced.

2013 Duckhorn Merlot “Three Palms Vineyard” (Napa Valley): Dark red to black, roasted coffee and dried red berry on the nose, chewy ending with firm, bright fruit.

2014 Opus One (Napa Valley): Medium dark red, crushed dark berries and earth on the nose, chewy, dusty dark chocolate on the fruit with silky tannins.

2014 Lewis Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Reserve” (Napa Valley): Dark black, crushed red fruit on the nose, chewy dark chocolate on the fruit, moderate finish.



2002 Chateau Lafite Rothschild (Pauillac): Black in color, closed nose of mint and red cherry, concentrated with chalk notes and roasted coffee on the fruit, hot acids on the finish.

2005 Chateau Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac): Medium amber, black olives on the nose, tight with coffee notes and silky tannins on the firm, balanced finish.

2006 Chateau Margaux (Margaux): Medium amber, sweet tar on the nose, tight, tarry with mouth coating tannins, some tartness on the finish.

2006 Chateau Haut-Brion (Pessac-Leognan): Dark red, tarry earth notes on the nose, tight silky fruit with silky tannins ending with a nice grip.

2000 Chateau Leoville Las Cases (St-Julien): Black, green olives on the nose, tight, silky tannins with green olive notes on the finish.

2004 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion (Pessac-Leognan): Dark red to black, green olives and herbs on the nose, silky fruit, balance, long finish, a beautiful wine.

2006 Chateau Leoville Barton (St-Julien): Dark red to black, smoky, black fruit on the nose, tarry with firm tannins, lingering finish.

2008 Cos D’ Estournel (St-Estephe): Dark red to black, roasted coffee on the nose, concentrated bright red fruit, green herbs on the finish, good balance.

2009 Chateau Montrose (St-Estephe): Black in color, tarry, strawberry and roast coffee on the nose, a little chunky with a big, silky mouthfeel and firm tannins.

2009 Chateau Canon-La Gaffeliere (St-Emilion): Dark red, crushed sour cherry nose, tight, red cherry fruit, firm tannins.

2009 Chateau La Fleur Petrus (Pomerol): Medium amber, closed nose of toasty dark chocolate, chewy fruit with mint and fresh herb notes, good balance.

2010 Chateau Figeac (St-Emilion): Black in color, green olives on the nose, chewy fruit with mint notes, firm with a lingering finish.

2011 Chateau Clerc Milon (Pauillac): Dark red, tarry cooked cherries on the nose, concentrated black fruit, juicy and balance with a good grip.

2012 Chateau Pavie (St-Emilion): Black, roasted coffee on the nose, concentrated red fruit with good balance.

2014 Chateau Pichon-Longueville (Pauillac): Dark red, black olives on the nose, dusty dark chocolate on the fruit with nice balance.



2000 Allegrini  Amarone “Classico” (Veneto): Dark red with an amber rim, roasted nuts on the nose with ripe plums and good acidity on the fruit.

2007 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino “Madonna del Plano Riserva” (Tuscany): Amber in color, big tarry nose, chewy fruit of tar and mint, chewy finish with a nice balance.

2010 Masseto (Tuscany): Medium amber, tar and leather on the nose with chewy dark chocolate fruit and firm acids.

2013 Gaja Barberesco “Sori Tilden” (Piedmont): Medium amber, very closed nose of black cherry with dusty red cherry fruit and silky tannin. Atypical Barberesco.

2013 Tenuta San Guido “Sassicaia” (Tuscany): Medium red, roasted nuts on the nose and on the fruit with balanced tannins and acids.



Great Wines Of Italy 2017 Tour

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James Suckling is a wine and cigar critic who sponsored the Great Wines of Italy Tour. In 2016 the tour was international and stopped by the cities of Hong Kong, Bangkok and Phuket, this year the tour will take them to Miami, Beverly Hills and San Francisco. On March 8th it was New York City’s turn.

The event was held at the Frank Gehry designed IAC building at 555 West 18th Street on the far west side of Manhattan. You can’t miss the very unique and distinctive building with its wavy, white glass design.

The event had over 150 Italian wineries serving 92+ point wine wines handpicked by Mr. Suckling. Most of the wine regions of Italy were represented but I concentrated my tastings on Piedmont and Tuscany.

Some of what I sampled:


2012 Fattoria Del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano “Riserva”

2010 & 2012 Cordella Brunello di Montalcino

2011 La Poderina Brunello di Montalcino

2012 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino

2012 Aletesino Brunellod di Montalcino “Montosoli”

2011 Carparzo Brunello di Montalcino “Riserva”

2011 Carparzo Brunello di Montalcino “La Casa”

2012 Fattoria La Leccaia Brunellod di Montalcino

2012 Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino

2012 Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino “Altero”

2011 Il Bosco di Grazia Brunello di Montalcino

2012 Il Bosco di Grazia Brunello di Montalcino

2014 Tommasi Valpolicella “Rafael”

2012 Tommasi Amarone

2010 Pra Amarone

2011 Masi Riserva “Costasera”

2011 Masi Brolo Campofiorin “Oro”

2011 Aldo Conterno Barolo “Cicala”

2012 Rocche dell” Annuziata Barolo

2012 Fontanafredda Barolo “Serralunga”

2012 Sordo Barolo “Parussi”

2012 Sordo Barolo “Monvigliero”

2012 Pio Cesare Barolo

2011 Cascina Bruciata Barberesco Riserva “Rio Sordo”

2014 Orenellaia

2014 Le Serre Nuove Dell’Ornellaia

2013 Viticcio Chianti Classico “Riserva”

2013 Viticcio Chianti Classico “Gran Selezione”

2013 Fattoria Le Pupille “Poggio Valenti”

2013 Fattoria Le Pupille “Saffredi”

2013 Ceralti “Alfeo”

2013 Petra “Potenti”