Above: Dave Foss uses the Coravin on a Cirelli 2011 amphora Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo at Joe Campanale’s Anfora. Depending on the guest, Dave gracefully and seamlessly switches gears from über wine nerd to “you like Cab? I’ve got just the thing for you.”
Some years ago now, when Milanese poet Luigi Ballerini (my dissertation advisor) invited me to contribute an Italian essay to his Perché New York? (Why New York?, Scritture, Piacenza, 2007), he asked me to write about city’s virtues as one of the great gastronomic destinations of the world.
I was eager to write something. But it was New York, a mecca for wine, that I wanted to describe. Luigi thought it was a great idea. And so I wrote about a legendary showdown between two of the most colorful characters in the Italian wine scene there (you’ll have to track down the book to find out who).
Above, from left: Ed McCarthy (the Studs Terkel of wine writing and one of America’s foremost experts on Champagne), Mary Ewing-Mulligan (the first woman in America to become a Master of Wine and leading US wine educator and writer), and Charles Scicolone (Italian wine maven and the man who taught me to love traditional Nebbiolo and Sangiovese). Ed treated us to 1995 Pol Roger Champagne Rosé on Monday night.
I lived between Brooklyn and Manhattan for ten years (1997-2007) and during that decade I watched the Italian wine scene explode there.
Between Nicola Marzovilla’s all-Italian list at I Trulli and Joe Bastianich’s all-Italian list at Babbo, both launched in the late 1990s, the New York restaurant scene provided the backdrop and epicenter for the Italian wine renaissance throughout the world.
And while Italian wines arguably made the biggest splash during my early years there, that period also saw an explosion of so many other wine categories that have been embraced by wine professionals and wine lovers across the U.S.
Above: on my trip to the City this week, I finally met Pascaline Lepeltier, one of the hippest sommeliers working in the U.S. today. She poured me the super groovy Champagne Bulles de comptoir by Charles Dufour.
Would San Diegans and Angelinos know Savennières and Anjou today if it weren’t for New Yorkers like grumpy Joe Dressner (may he rest in peace) and fiery Alice Feiring? (Alice, whom I met early on, became one of my most cherished mentors.)
As I hopped from tasting to tasting, wine shop to wine shop, wine bar to wine bar, and wine list to wine list on Monday and Tuesday, I fell in love with this wine city all over again.
Take me out, any evening, for wine in Rome, Paris, or London. They are among the great wine destinations in the world today.
But there’s just no place like New York USA.