By Jasmine Hibbitt
The Slow Food Italy editorial team released a new edition of their English wine guide to the U.S., The 2013 Slow Wines Guide 2nd Edition. The publication is a compilation of 400 Italian wineries and 3,000 wines that fit the Slow Wines philosophy and standards for eco-sustainability, affordability, and superb taste. To make the debut of this year's edition even more worthy of a second glass of Prosecco, the organization teamed up with Vinitaly International to kick-off their U.S. Italian wine tasting tour here in New York, at the beautiful Three-Sixty Degrees in Tribeca.
Considered one of the top global ambassadors of Italian wines, Vinitaly International was created by Veronafiere, the leading organizer of trade shows in Italy, to spread their love of Italian wines around the world including off-the-radar countries like Japan, Germany and China. They recognize the U.S at the top of the market for wine drinkers and our country's recent interest in the practices behind wine production makes Slow Wines & Vinitaly the perfect pair to promote, discuss and celebrate some of Italy's most admirable pours here in the States.
The day-long event started off with a wine market presentation and press conference conducted by both organizations. Here, the editors of Slow Wines said partnering with Vinitaly gives them "strength to import Italian wines around the world." They were also excited to introduce the release of their new app suitable for iPads, iPhones and the iPod Touch. For a cost of $8.99, the app gives all the information found in the print guide plus a virtual map that connects viewers with wine shops and restaurants that carry Slow Wines in the U.S., and of course, in Italy.
For the rest of the day, press, trade, and the general public were able to do a walk-around tasting. With a dazzling city view in the background, part of the 30,000 square foot floor was broken-up into separate areas for Vinitaly and Slow Foods featured wines. This gave importers and wineries a chance to connect with key individuals in the American wine industry and have them taste varieties that would have never reached their palates, let alone their minds. Vinitaly also set up a wine bar and educational "Master Tasting" classes equipped with iPads so that drinkers could score wines and give the producers valuable feedback.
The Slow Wines room showcased over 100 wines from 15 regions of Italy for businesses and consumers to savor throughout the day. Their guidebook comes with a symbol and color system to help guests navigate the room, categorizing the wines by affordability, quality, and sustainability. Standing behind the bottles were the enthusiastic producers who, with tongue-twirling Italian accents, spoke about their grapes starting with the fruit's soil, how the juice was fermented, and what to expect with every sip. Listening to each producer tell the story of their wines sounded as if they were parents gushing with pride about their own children.
"I love being in the vineyards," said the young producer and representative from Edi Keber Winery. "I have music, the vineyard, that is all I need." This estate, located on the border of Italy and Slovenia, produces just one wine, the Collio Bianco, made from a blend of friulano, ribolla gialla and malvasia grapes. The result: A luscious, full-bodied white that is enlivened with spark of acidity and a touch of minerality.
Ainsley Annette Berry works on the sales and marketing team with Borgo Maragliano wines. She considers the best part of her job the fact that she's just "one step away from the vineyards" and gets a chance to see the passion that goes into every grape that is picked. Having worked in the field herself, she knows that one must have "a relationship with the land and a certain level of intuition". She recognizes the deep romance and love that goes into honest wine making.
And there is no doubt that if one were to look out onto the event floor, filled with tasters that become more and more enthralled with every swirl, sniff, and sip, they would see just how true this is.
Jasmine Hibbitt is an Assistant Food Editor at First For Women magazine and volunteers with Slow Food NYC.