Gala Italia 2009
Gala Italia celebrates Italy’s incomparable fashion, wine food, art and design
New York, March 4—The GALA ITALIA, held on February 19, 2009 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Manhattan, has already been called one of the most successful wine events of the year.
The 24th edition of this annual celebration of Italy’s great wines featured more than 60 wine producers from Italy’s most important wine-growing regions presenting over 350 wines. Complementing the wines was a dazzling array of Italian specialty foods – cheeses, breads, olive oils, prosciutto, coffees, chocolates and more – as well as a cornucopia of culinary delights prepared by 19 of New York’s most renowned Italian restaurants.
This extravagant presentation of “Made in Italy” on the New York stage brought together art, music and fashion & design with some of the best Italian wines and gastronomy to celebrate the best of the “Bel Paese.”
The 2009 Gala Italia events began at 11:00 a.m. with the technical seminar, The Taste of Italy, which was held for members of the wine media and featured 26 of the participating wineries. Led by Lucio Caputo, the president of the IWFI, the seminar was comprised of three sections: the first section – From Sicily with Love: The Nero D’Avola – was devoted to the Sicilian wines, the second – Chianti, SuperTuscan or Brunello – to the wines of Tuscany, and the third – My Best Wine from 2000 to Today – to Italian wines in general. The seminar featured a luncheon catered by the chefs of the renowned New York restaurant Le Cirque, which focused on the pairing of wine and food. The luncheon was prepared by chef Michael Galata and chef Armando Monterroso from Le Cirque and the Marriott Marquis Hotel, respectively.
The seminar provided a unique opportunity for 110 wine and food editors, exclusively selected for the event, to interact with the wine producers and receive an updated overview of the latest Italian wine production.
At the end of the seminar a prize was drawn among the attending journalists, consisting of a free trip to Sicily, graciously offered by the Institute of Vine and Wine of Palermo. The prize went to the journalist Katharine E. Bernhardt from the “Restaurant Girl” magazine.
The seminar was followed by the exceptional “Wine and Food Tasting”. Over 280 different wines from 70 wineries of the leading wine producing regions of Italy were presented. Almost 6,000 bottles were opened and 36,000 glasses were used. Over 2,500 trade, press and VIPs were in attendance (including 1,400 wine importers, wholesalers and retailers coming from the Eastern states of the USA, 480 restaurateurs and 450 wine and food journalists; and 550 trade people and 350 fashion journalists as well as several TV networks). Of the 19 participating restaurants, several had recently been awarded prizes by the Wine Spectator for their innovative cuisine. Finally, 58 wines were awarded a “Gold Medal” by an American jury, which were proudly worn by the winning producers during the Tasting, during which a total of five trips to Italy and a Vespa scooter were awarded to participants.
In addition to wines and foods, Italian fashion was also prominently on display at the GALA ITALIA, accompanied by a musical performance of the Italian soubrette Jo Squillo. The Spring-Summer 2009 collections by “Star Chic” by Simona Ventura and “Curiel Couture” by Raffaella and Gigliola Curiel were received with great enthusiasm, following the performance by Jo Squillo of her successful hit song “Siamo Donne” (We Are Women), while her video, which is seen frequently on Italian television, was projected on two large screens.
Jo Squillo and Lucio Caputo then interviewed with Giovanni Bozzetti, President of the Committee “Lombardia per la Moda”, who was the driving force behind the Lombardy Region’s participation in the GALA ITALIA. Applauded by the 2,500 guests, Lucio Caputo introduced Simona Ventura and launched the fashion show featuring Star Chic and Curiel Couture complete with special choreography, music and lighting effects, which were punctuated by the flashes of numerous photographers and recorded by the Italian TV networks.
Simona Ventura’s Star Chic presented the new elegant designs of easy couture and Curiel Couture unveiled the prêt-a-porter collections for 2009-2010.
At the end of the fashion show, Raffaella Curiel thanked all guests in attendance, including the 400 fashion journalists present in New York for “Fashion Week”.
The GALA ITALIA ended late with a “Gala Dinner” for which renowned chef Giancarlo Morelli journeyed from Italy to prepare a typical Milanese menu, accompanied by a selection of great wines from Lombardy.
During the dinner, two more fashion presentations by Star Chic and Raffaella Curiel took place. Lucio Caputo then awarded “Gold Medals” to Cristina Mazzei, Giovanni Bozzetti, Raffaella Curiel and Simona Ventura for their contribution to the success of “Made in Italy”.
The final act of the Gala Dinner was a musical performance by the “Accademia Teatro della Scala” of Milano and the tenor Leonardo Cortellazzi who, accompanied by the pianist Vincenzo Scalera, sang a selection of arias from Italian operas to great fanfare.
The revamped GALA ITALIA also featured an exhibition of early works by Giovan Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino, who was one of the most important Italian artists of the 17th Century. The exhibition was organized by the Italian Cultural Institute and was installed on the balcony above the Broadway Ballroom.
Another exhibit celebrated one of the most recognizable “Made-in-Italy” icons, the legendary Vespa scooter, with six models on display.
Each of the producers participating in the GALA ITALIA was presented with a Gold Medal for their best wine showcased. Designed by noted Vicenza, Italy goldsmith Fabrizio Vezzaro, the medals were awarded by a panel of independent judges.
The prizes for pre-registered guests, which included the aforementioned Vespa scooter and Italy trips were provided courtesy of the Italian Government Tourist Board of New York, the Regional Institute of Vine and Wine of Palermo, Piaggio and Atahotels.
Among the numerous personalities celebrating this testament to the Italian presence in America were the Italian Ambassador to the United States Giovanni Castellaneta, who journeyed from Washington for the event, as well as the Italian Ambassador to the United Nations, Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant’Agata, the Italian Consul General, Minister Francesco Maria Talo’, and Italian senators Antonio d’Ali’ and Calogero Mannino.
“This high level event reached beyond the traditional commercial scope.” Said Lucio Caputo. “In its new prestigious format it has and should continue to provide excellent exposure to Made in Italy.” Caputo also underlined the essential role played by the Milan Chamber of Commerce/Promos and the Committee “Lombardia per la Moda”, for the success of GALA ITALIA.
Gala Italia, a unique Art, Fashion, Food and Wine event was organized, under the Patronage of the Italian Ambassador to the United States, by the Italian Wine & Food Institute in cooperation with the Italian Trade Commission, the Milan Chamber of Commerce and the Fashion Committee “Lombardia per la Moda” of the Lombardy Region, the Regional Institute of Vine and Wine of Palermo, with the sponsorship of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, the Italian Government Tourist Board of New York and Vinitaly.