The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Inside IWM, September 28-October 1, 2015: People, Places, and Food

Posted on | October 2, 2015 | Written by IWM Staff | No Comments

Gianfranco SolderaNever say that IWM doesn’t have a wide range of interests. We kicked off the week with a recollection of time spent with winemaker Gianfranco Soldera, and we ended it with Crystal Edgar’s guide for Dim Sum wine flights. We snagged an easy, delicious recipe for Panelle de Fave from IWM’s own Chef Mike Marcelli, and Emery Long sang the praises of Ca dei Mandorli Brachetto d’Acqui, a fine, fizzy under $22 red that complements your meal from start to finish.

Garrett Kowalsky began the week’s expert selections with wines he’s looking forward to enjoying soon, Angelo Gaja’s Chardonnay Rossj-Bass and Biondi-Santi’s 2010 Brunello. John Camacho Vidal is also aboard that Brunello train, picking a pair of Brunellos from Il Poggione and Angelo Gaja’s Pieve Santa Restituta estate. Michael Adler picked a pair of Chassagne-Montrachet wines–one red and one white–from Chateau de la Maltroye. And Francesco weighed in with two beautiful bottles from Montevertine, a recent release of the estate’s flagship Montevertine and a vintage bottle of Le Pergole Torte!


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What To Drink When You’re Eating Dim Sum

Posted on | October 1, 2015 | Written by Crystal Edgar | No Comments

Dim Sum BasketsDuring my time in Asia, I was often asked to compare my love for NYC with life in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. My answer would be. “You can take a girl out of the city but you can’t take the city of the girl.” Now that I am back in the Big Apple, I am experiencing reverse nostalgia for Asian comforts. Luckily, I live in a diverse city where there are a plethora of cuisines at my fingertips, but if I had to choose one genre of Chinese food, Dim Sum would be at the top. Going a bit further, since I work in wine, it only makes sense to bring along some wine to pair with the adventurous flavors and textures, here are a few of my wine pairing secrets.

Dim Sum consists of a variety of hot and cold dishes in bit size quantities and, on occasion is delivered to the table in a special trolley. Dim Sum literally translates to “to touch the heart,” and it was originally created to accompany tea drinking. As the culinary world has evolved, so has dim sum, which now covers a wide realm of gastronomic delights. Some of the most popular dishes are Char Siu Bao or steamed barbecued pork buns, Har Gau (steamed shrimp dumplings), Shu Mai (steamed pork and shrimp dumplings), Fung Zao(steamed chicken feet), Zhong Zi (lotus leaf wrapped glutinous rice parcels) andDan Tat (egg custard tarts).  Although there are many more dishes, these mentioned are staples and must be on every dim sum menu.

Gone are the days when white wine is strictly with fish and red wine with red meat. The rule of thumb has now become passé, given the variety of wine that available in the market, the assortment of food, and the increasing number of wine enthusiasts around the world. You needn’t follow a list of rules to find a great match; instead, simply strive for balance. One component or flavor in a dish or wine should not overpower its partner; instead, the two should complement each other and highlight each other’s best qualities or components. The more ingredients and flavor components incorporated in a dish make the task of pairing wine more of a challenge. Chinese food, given its many spices, flavors and textures throws us wine folk a curve ball and requires more thought and creativity in determining which wine may best partner the dish.

In order to create a great pairing, one must first dissect a dish and analyze each component – protein or main component, cooking method and sauce. Wine pairings can either complement flavors in a dish, pulling out similar flavor characteristics found in the wine (braised lamb shank with a big rustic red) or contrast a dish, using opposite flavors or textures to balance out the flavors (smoked mackerel with an off-dry white wine). A few added pointers – when chili or pungent spice is present, choose something off dry or fruity (avoid anything tannic). With desserts or sweet dishes, the wine must be sweeter than the dish otherwise the wine will appear bitter. Master these few things and the sport of pairing will become all the more enjoyable and fun!

With the help of my good friend  the “lazy Susan,” I’ve devised some favorite dim sum pairings:

Har Gau – Steamed shrimp dumplings (steamed shrimp, rice paper wrapper)

 Crisp, light white wine

Sparkling wine

Extra Brut Champagne – France

Verdicchio – Italy

Txakoli – Spain


Shu Mai – Steamed pork and shrimp dumplings (steamed pork and shrimp, egg and rice wrapper) 

Medium-bodied white wine

Sparkling Wine

Marsanne or Rousanne – France

Semillon – France, Australia, Italy

Friulano – Italy

Ribolla Gialla – Italy, Slovenia or Switzerland


Fung Zao  Steamed Chicken feet (chicken feet with oyster sauce and garlic)

 Full-bodied fruity white wine

Gewurztraminer – France

Pinot Gris – France, USA or Australia


Zhong Zi – Steamed glutenous rice wrapped in a lotus leaf (braised pork, egg yolk, sticky rice, soy, garlic)

Full bodied white or fruity rose wine

New World Chardonnay or Viognier

Demi Sec Sparkling wine

Sangiovese Rosé – Italy


Char Siu Bao – Barbecued pork buns (braised pork, slightly sweet sauce)

 Fruity, red wine

Lambrusco or Brachetto – Italy

Xinomavro – Greece

Kavaklidere – Turkey


Dan Tat – Egg custard tarts (slightly sweet egg custard, pie crust)

Fruity or slightly sweet white

Demi Sec Sparkling Wine


Picolit – Italy

Muscat de Beaumes de Venise

Grechetto (sweet) – Italy



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Expert Picks: Montevertine and…Montevertine!

Posted on | October 1, 2015 | Written by Francesco Vigorito | No Comments

Francesco 2014Montevertine is responsible not only for some of the best wines in Tuscany, but also in the entire world. The Le Pergole Torte is perhaps the finest Sangiovese produced in Chianti today, and you can see its extraordinary nature in the way the wine ages and develops. Today, I have two excellent vintages​—one for drinking and one for either cellaring or drinking. I can’t say enough about Montevertine wines, but year after year, they are always my favorites!

Montevertine 2012 Montevertine $54.99

Firm tannins, bright fruit, and a powerful yet elegant personality define this self-named wine from Monteverine. I have had vintages from the late ‘90s that are some of the best bottles of Italian wine I have ever tasted. The wine is absolutely seamless from start to finish and Sangiovese lovers should not miss out on this stunner! That said, ideally you’d want to hold off on drinking this for another five years, if possible.

Montevertine 1982 Le Pergole Torte $549

Perhaps one of the finest and rarest vintage of Torte produced, the 1982 Le Pergole Torte is a classic wine that demonstrates the true beauty of Sangiovese in its entirety: soft, luscious fruit strewn with cherry, tobacco, flowers and spice, all woven together by the finest and silkiest tannins you can imagine. This is a wine that can bring tears to your eyes and it’s also one of my very favorite wines-–and the fact that this bottle comes with extreme levels of provenance only means it’s aging spectacularly.



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From the IWM Kitchens: Panelle de Fave

Posted on | September 30, 2015 | Written by IWM Staff | No Comments

IMG_20141202_163205Eaten in many parts of Italy, Panelle de Fave goes by different names in different regions. It’s Panelle around Sicily, Panissa in Liguria, Calentita around Gibraltar, and likely other names in other places. No matter what you call it, this dish starts as a smooth batter of ground fava beans and water that is fried and enjoyed as finger food. It’s delicious and a great accompaniment to wine, perfect as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to soup, salad or stew.

IMG_20141202_162118IWM’s own Chef Mike Marcelli likes to change the base ingredients depending on the season; this past spring was chickpea, and for the winter he’s thinking of trying Cicerechi beans from Abruzzo! Currently he’s using fava flour. Not finding one he liked, Mike sourced good Haba (dried whole fava beans) and put them in the blender until very fine. He did warn that making your own fava flour in a blender will make a racket, but the end result is a flour that has actual, serious fava flavor! Mike says that making your own fava flour is “not unlike coffee from fresh ground whole beans versus that of pre ground.”


300 gr fava flour

1 liter of water


oil (for greasing the pan)

lemon juice


IMG_20141202_164522After making your own fava flour (or using one you already like), prepare 1 liter boiling water, seasoned with a pinch of salt. Measure out and sift 300gr fava flour. Slowly pour the flour into the boiling water while whisking vigorously, just as you would when making polenta. Drop the flame to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the raw flour taste is gone and the mixture shows a smooth consistency (about 10 minutes). Pour the batter out onto an oiled plate and let cool. Once cold, turn out onto a cutting board and cut into small pieces. Fry in oil at 375°F until golden. Season with salt, lemon juice and parsley for a fantastic finish!

IMG_20141202_192137The end to a chilly perfect day,  panelle de fave, a nice green salad, and a nicely chilled glass of white wine, preferably from one of IWM classic producers. You might try Enrico Fossi 2000 Terrantica, Sartarelli 2014 Verdicchio Castelli dei Jesi Classico, or Domaine Barat 2011 Chablis!



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Expert Picks: Il Poggione and Pieve Santa Restituta

Posted on | September 30, 2015 | Written by Camacho Vidal | No Comments

CamachoIt’s autumn, and the themes at IWM NYC’s Saturday tastings reflect the change in weather, showcasing wines that are enjoyable as the days get shorter and the nights get colder. Last Saturday’s tasting focused on Sangiovese Grosso and Brunello di Montalcino. Brunello is one of those wines that you best appreciate while sitting in front of a fireplace sipping it slowly, waiting for it to open up with layers of aromas texture and flavors. We tasted eight wines this past Saturday and I want to showcase a Brunello from Il Poggione that you can drink now with a little decanting, and another from Angelo Gaja that I think has many years to go.

With its origins going back to the 1800’s, Il Pogione is one of Montalcino’s major wineries. The estate’s philosophy is to pay meticulous attention to the vineyards, believing that the secret to making a great wine starts in the vineyard. While only in Montalcino since 1994, Angelo Gaja is a fourth-generation winemaker from Piemonte. He is known for making wines that are elegant, opulent and true to their place of origin. I have had the privilege of tasting with Angelo Gaja and hear firsthand how his admiration for Biondi-Santi and Sangiovese Grosso lead him to Toscana, where he produces a classic cuvée Brunello di Montalcino, single-vineyard Brunelo, Sugarille, and the Rennina, which comes from two specific vineyards. These two wines are standout Brunellos that you can enjoy for years to come.

Il Poggione 2009 Brunello di Montalcino $59.99

Tenuta Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino is aged in large French oak barrels for three years then an additional twelve months in bottle to give us a Brunello that is bright with a nose full of cherry, licorice, spice, and a hints wood and herbal notes. The palate is balanced with silky tannins and juicy fruits, all balanced with acidity and a kiss of sweet vanilla on the nice, lingering finish. Drink until the end of the decade.

Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta 2010 Brunello Sugarille $169.99

The name Sugarille comes from the “Quercus suber,” the Latin name for cork oak, which dotted the property, hence the name of the vineyard. The Sugarille vineyard has the ideal conditions for making long-lived, structured expression of Sangiovese, and this 2010 Sugareille is for the cellar. It’s big and powerful but it’s also very elegant. The nose is full with ripe fruit of plums and cherries, hints of violets, cedar, tea leaves, tobacco and some slight traces of vanilla from the oak. The full-bodied palate is tight, with silky, elegant tannins that are well integrated with the acidity. This is going to be a joy to drink once it matures in a few more years. Drink 2020 to 2042.


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