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Judging the 13th annual Italian Community Center Wine contest in Troy, NY

It was Lucky 13 for the judges at Troy’s 13th annual ICC Wine contest. Brian Gwynn, owner of Specialty Wines & More, a wine importer, Roger Savoy, Homebrew Emporium, Fred LeBrun, Times Union, and Mike LoPorto, LoPorto’s Restaurant, Troy, reunited to once again judge wine at the ICC Saturday, April 1st.  But nobody was fooling us.

Fortunately as the tasting went on all agreed it was the best selection of wines we had tried since the contest began. We started about 3PM and sampled about 30 entries, less than usual. When we finished the staff and volunteers were setting up tables for the People’s Choice tasting.

We all wandered into the ballroom to wait while members, their friends and family did their tasting.

Since there were about 200 people at the fund raiser, we sat at our table, poured a glass of wine and talked a bit about wine and food while we waited. People began to trickle in and soon our wives Ann Gwynn, Caroline LeBrun and Anita Savoy arrived.

Mike and Fred above. Ann and Brian, below left. Caroline and Anita, below right.

In no time the ballroom filled up and multiple conversations and laughter filled the air. Shortly the staff began the process of feeding 200 hungry people. The crowd ranged in age from future winemaker Milo, below, 11 weeks old with mother Sarah, to a 90ish matron singing Italian songs with the ensemble. It took a while to serve so many so people wandered around seeing old friends.

Roger and Bob Caprara, above left. Mike LoPorto, Mike Cazzato, event organizer, and Fred.

Given that there were 50 or more wine makers there, most tables had at least one bottle of homemade wine. I brought two Selection Limited edition wines, a 2014 Washington red blend, and a 2010 Portuguese Tinto Douro. Both Fred and I toured up the Douro River. Fred’s story was more interesting. It was a few years ago when Portugal and Spain still had dictators. It involved passing into Spain’s borders where the Douro River becomes the Duero River with machine guns pointing at him. Brian provided a Spanish wine from Valencia, a blend of Cab Sav, Tempranillo, and two other grapes. Dinner began with pasta with oil and greens. Next a kale salad was served. The main course was a roulade, carrots and beans, with small potatoes. Dessert was a colorful green and yellow thing, but I don’t eat dessert, so I don’t know how it was.

As dinner finished Mike Cazzato, Vince Mamone and Dominick Russomanno, all involved in making the event work, presented the audience with the names of the contest winners. Lucky 13 was Pete Hanley’s number. He won first place in both the red and white category. Pete’s 2015 Old Vine Zinfandel was an excellent wine we were all glad to have sampled. Sorry, I missed the grape used for the white. Then all past first place winners were called up, many who received first place several times. With awards given out soon we all rose and began the slow process of leaving. Good byes were said and we mingled with everyone as we wended our way out the ICC.  We hope next year number 14 will be lucky too.

Above left, Dominick, Pete and Vince, who is presenting Pete with his first place award. Above right, Pete explains his winemaking process.

The Italian Community Center is located at 1450 5th Ave. in Troy, New York 12180. They can be contacted via phone at (518) 274-0508 for pricing, hours and directions.