Hundreds of Italian vintners, local sommeliers and wine professionals gathered at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria from Feb. 2–6 for Vino 2015. The annual wine convention is a chance to taste Italy’s latest vintages and forecast trends in the American market.
So what’s the scoop?
“With wine being Italy’s number one export and growing for the American market, we’re very excited to see what happens in 2015,” says Pier Paolo Celeste, executive director for the USA, Italian Trade Commission. “My prediction is to expect a large amount of growth in the more undiscovered Southern Regions of Italy including Puglia, Sicily, Campania and Calabria.”
WE also tapped Jack Mason and Jeff Kellogg, both wine directors at NYC’s Marta and Maialino, respectively, and panelists at the event, to provide insider tips on what’s hot from this wine-producing powerhouse. Tip No. 1: Now’s the time to stock your cellar.
Sicily is Blowing Up
Not literally, of course, but the volcanic island and its iconic Mount Etna are producing high-quality, polished reds and whites, according to Mason. “The wines are extremely dynamic, and offer the perfect bridge to both fish and meat.”
Kellogg agrees, pointing to the growing popularity of wines made from Carricante. “The amount planted right now is tiny, so you’ll never see these wines all over, but that only helps to make them desirable,” he says. “The best versions have the perfect mix of crispness, a rich mid-palate, and focused minerality on the finish.”
Both Kellogg and Mason agree: Italy’s next big red is Aglianico. “I believe we have yet to see this wine come fully into its own,” says Mason. “Whether from Basilicata or Campania, Aglianico can truly express itself as a world-class wine.”
“I’m buying all that I can while it is still so inexpensive,” says Kellogg. “It is, without a doubt, one of the best grapes produced in Italy, and like Sangiovese or Nebbiolo, you can’t find it grown with great results anywhere else.”
Italian Sparkling Wines are Bubbling Over
Franciacorta’s rising prices are keeping it behind France’s grower Champagnes, which “are getting less expensive and very interesting,” says Kellogg. “There’s not the same movement for the grape growers in Italy to bottle small-production sparkling wine at great prices like you see in Champagne. A trend I saw begin in 2014, and expect to see continue in 2015, is restaurants moving away from Italian sparkling wine.”
Mason, on the other hand, extols the virtues of dry Lambrusco. “There are many examples of Lambrusco hitting the market today that are fun, crisp and refreshing,” he says. “People are beginning to really enjoy these wines, and I foresee more and more dry examples hitting the market.”