Apulia in New York and a visit with Obi-Wan

Above: the Obi-Wan Kenobi of the Italian wine world, Charles Scicolone (left), with Tom Maresca, another one of New York’s great wine experts and writers and an authority on Italian wine.

As the newest member of the New York Wine Media Guild, I was asked to help organize and co-chair last week’s tasting of Apulian wines in New York together with my good friend and mentor, the Obi-Wan Kenobi of the Italian wine world, Charles Scicolone. What an honor for me to get to present Charles! He has been working in and writing about Italian wine since the 1970s, when few connoisseurs were collecting or drinking fine Italian wine. Together with two other now-legendary names in our field, writer Sheldon Wasserman and retailer Lou Iacucci, Charles played a starring role in what can now be called the Italian wine renaissance in this country. Whether selling, consulting, lecturing, or simply tasting, “it’s always a pleasure” Charles is one of the most recognized and respected faces in Italian wine in the U.S.

Above: top wine blogger Tyler Colman and agent provocateur Terry Hughes share a moment for my camera. Also in attendance, a who’s who of New York wine writers: John Foy, Paul Zimmerman, and Peter Hellman, among others.

Charles and I have known each other for more than 10 years: I first met him when I wrote about him and his wife, cookbook author and Italian food authority Michele Scicolone, for The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana. Later, I had the great fortune to work with Charles when he was the wine director at famed Italian wine destination I Trulli in New York. (Although he never won, Charles was nominated eight consecutive times for the James Beard Wine Professional award.)

Charles is known for his passionate defense of traditional winemaking and his distaste for new oak aging, especially when it comes to Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, and Aglianico. “They’ve gone to the dark side,” you’ll hear Charles say, referring to once-traditional Italian winemakers who switch over to California-style vinfication and high-alcohol, overly extracted, oaky, jammy wines. Hence, my cognomen for Charles.

Above: we were also joined by Francesca Mancarella, export director for Apulian winery Candido, and Gary Grunner, another Italian wine industry veteran.

One of the things that impresses me the most about Charles’ palate and his knowledge of Italian wines is that he tasted many of the twentieth-century’s great vintages on release and he has witnessed the evolution of the Italian wine sector during its most vibrant periods of renewal and expansion.

Charles, may the force be with you!

See also Off the Presses’ tasting notes from last Wednesday’s tasting.

Above: more than 30 wines were tasted that day, including this show-stopping dried-grape Aleatico by Candido — the only DOC Aleatico passito produced, an “idiovinification” (how’s that for a neologism?). Francesca explained that the wine’s freshness is owed to Apulia’s excellent Mediterranean ventilation.

7 Responses to Apulia in New York and a visit with Obi-Wan

  1. tracieb says:

    we’ll have to try that alleatico 2B…with xanadu? che dici? ;)

  2. Tell us more about the renaissance of Italian wines in your neck of the woods.

  3. Gary Grunner says:

    I thought the New York Wine Media Guild tasting and the format was outstanding. It gave all the wineries a chance to showcase what Apulia has to offer . Charles Scicolone once again proved he is a master of Italian wines with his overview of the wines and region. Jeremy Parzen did a great job putting this event together and the riches of the region came through in the wines.
    Gary Grunner
    USA Brand Manager Candido Winery

  4. Bill Rosser says:

    Charles Scicolone…. the man has the best hair in the wine business. Flawless. Do yourself a favor take any class Charles has to offer.

  5. Hi Jeremy, I’m very happy that you have the opportunity to taste and present in New York the excellent wines of my friend Alessandro Candido, one of the best wine producers in Apulia!

  6. [...] of Puglia. It was my honor to be the speaker at this event. I was introduced by wine blogger Jermey Pazen. Jeremy helped to get many of the wines for the event and invited Francesca Mancarella, the export [...]

  7. [...] Jeremy Parzen, who helped organize the tasting, has some notes on his blog, Do Bianchi. [...]

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