Italian Wine Discoveries at VINO 2015

Posted on: February 9th, 2015 by

Recently returned from a whirlwind (whirlwine?) few days in snowy, cold, loveable New York City attending VINO 2015. (This was a sponsored media trip, BTW.) Let’s get straight to the cool wines that I discovered. Well, it wasn’t like I found the Ark of the Covenant, just that these wines were new to me. I did not unearth them. Enough semantics; let’s drink!

Dynamite Riesling! Rich and complex. A real wow wine. #vino2015I started with the Ronco del Gelso Riesling “Schultz” from Friuli, up in the northern reaches of Italy. The very first table as you entered the Slow Wine tasting, my laziness compelled me to look no further. I kid! That had nothing to do with my selection of Ronco del Gelso. First of all, the wines came highly recommended by the Mike Veseth, creator of The Wine Economist.

Second, I employed a deliberate strategy for this tasting: I focused on all the wines with cool labels. When you go to a ginormous tasting like this, you need a game plan. Fred Dexheimer, a Master Sommelier and a Master of Puppets metalhead, recommended picking one grape and then trying as many examples of as possible. (Which is really good advice.) Me? I went for the shiny, pretty things.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, this Riesling! Italy is definitely not the first spot that comes to mind when I think of this grape, but, dang, this was DYNAMITE! Rich and complex; a real “WOW!” wine.

Next up on my Friulian tour: Aquila del Torre. This winery had three striking wines with labels to match.

Aquila del Torre

He’s got a corkscrew for a nose. She has grapevines growing out of her head. Together, the are…?

Can’t say I’ve had a lot of Refosco but this red grape starts fairly light and finishes with a sneaky amount of tannin. (2011 vintage, BTW.) Regarding the label, I can’t help but think that having a corkscrew for a nose would rarely be handy and mostly an impediment. (Difficult to ride the subway, for example.) The 2013 Fruilano (a white wine, certified organic) had some nice richness to it while remaining fresh and lively. In contrast to the Refosco label, having vines grow out of your head would be much easier to manage. You could, after all, prune them. Just skip the harsh shampoos, conditioners, and hair care product. (Not pictured: a nice Riesling.)

Tenuta Fernanda Cappello

How do you feel about extended skin contact?

Now a Friulian trio from Tenuta Fernanda Cappello. (All three were 2013s.) I especially enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc and the Traminer. Both white wines had some extended skin contact, meaning the grape skins hung out with the juice for an extra spell. So the wine has more of a golden hue, especially the Traminer. Which was excellent. I sat down and drank it as it was my last wine of the day.

So that was (sort of) it for Friuli. I should end the post here, but dangit, I have a few more wines I want to talk about that hail from other parts of Italy.

So bear with me as I offer up a few fizzy delights.

Bosco del Tasso Lambrusco

This is a steak wine. Seriously.

You know I love Lambrusco, but I’ve never had one this this. The Bosco Del Tasso gets its bubbles by adding grape must to finished wine, then bottling it so fermentation keeps happening. The result? Fizz.

This is a serious wine you don’t chill down. Rather, drink it at the same temperature you would a bold, still red. Yes, there are bubbles but this is a big, tannic wine! It kind of sneaks up on you then smacks you in the mouth. In a good, non-violent way. Can’t think of a much better wine for a steak.

And, finally, with so many photos of bottles did I actually encounter any people? I swear I did. I also ran into fellow wine scribes who I hadn’t seen for quite a while, which was a treat. But I only have photographic proof of meeting one person.

Annette LizotteHere I am pictured with Annette Lizotte from Tenute Tomasella. I had my eyes fixed on the exit door and a forthcoming cold beer when Annette stopped me and asked if I would try one wine. Sure, why not? Well I am so glad I did because it was a really cool and unique sparkling rosé called Osè. It’s a blend of late harvest Verduzzo and the (aformentioned) Refosco. (I’m guessing the Verduzzo is from the Veneto and the Refosco from Friuli.) A semi-sweet delight, I imagine it’s perfect for spicy food and salty cured meats. No doubt Osè would absolutely rule brunch.

Did I explore the world outside of the confines of the Waldorf Astoria, where the conference and my room were located? YOU BET! Here are a few recommendations for eating and drinking:

  • Marta: Located in the Martha Washington Hotel, this is a bustling space with very high ceilings and a small bar, where I suggest you sit. Excellent selection of Champagnes by the glass. I also enjoyed a very cool dry Brachetto. Excellent pizza and the spicy cuttlefish along with the rabbit meatballs were top-notch appetizers.
  • Gramercy Tavern: 14 years ago I ate one of the best meals of my life and, without a doubt, experienced the finest service ever. And so many years later, nothing has changed. Enjoy a long lunch in the tavern. Highlights were the raw and roasted root vegetable salad, arctic char, and a trio of sorbets including a particularly tart and lively cranberry. Nary an ice crystal in the sorbets; they were smooth as silk. Also garnished with a tiny chocolate chip cookie with sea salt that was one of the best ever. Gracious, charming service. Drank a fantastic Aaron Burr Elderberry Apple cider.
  • Untamed Sandwiches: Good bread and creative fillings. I had the General Zapata: chicken tinga, queso fresco, pickled onions, pickled jalapeños, cilantro, radishes. Washed down with a 16oz can of Bell’s Oberon Ale.
  • The Living Room: Located in the Park Hyatt–which has a super cool entrance and elevator–this is a spot that transports you into a luxurious world of modernity divorced from any reality I know. Sit at the bar and enjoy a cocktail or some Champagne. I was there on a sleepy night; not sure if it gets clubby on the weekends. Top-notch service.
  • Food Gallery 32: What, you think it was all luxury for me? This three-level food court in K-town serves up a ton of options. I ended up with some fantastic vegetable dumplings and a selection from the cooler full of big canned beers.
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4 Responses

  1. Sounds like my kind of conference….love the labels on those wines!

    • Jameson Fink says:


      Labels make a difference not just on the shelf but when I go to a big wine-tasting event like this. There are definitely producers I know and love who may not have the most attention-grabbing labels, but if it’s something new I’m curious about the wines displaying some design flair.



  2. Yay Italy! Yay shiny things! Yay Fred Dexheimer!

    Verduzzo is actually native to Friuli too so it and that Refosco likely came from the same neighborhood. Cool!

    Love you in New York!

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