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Italy's Best Wines: Tasting The 2006 Tre Bicchieri Winners

2006.grosso.jpgThe wine world is crowded with authorities on just about everything. Whether they are critics or friends, wine lovers can usually find someone who claims to know an awful lot about some particular thing in the wine world. Even among the most famous of authorities, there are few that equal the depth, the comprehensiveness, and the sheer exhaustive coverage of the Gambero Rosso. Often referred to as THE Italian Wine guide, the Gambero Rosso debuted in 1986 as an eight page newspaper insert. Within a few years of that first insert, it grew into the most respected and most complete guide to Italian wines, and its trademark "uno, due, and tre bicchieri" (one, two, and three glasses) rating system for wines became Italy's (and the world's) gold standard for evaluating everything from Barolo to Zibibbo. The guide is now printed in English and German as well as Italian, and weighs in at roughly 900 pages and reviews about 14,000 wines produced in Italy each year.

Needless to say, when Gambero Rosso says a wine is great. People pay attention.

And when Gambero Rosso puts on a tasting of the Tre Bicchieri winners for 2006 in San Francisco. I pay attention.

This event is easily (not just by definition) one of the highest quality tastings available to the trade and public in San Francisco. Likewise it is also one of the most poorly promoted. The upside of that is that it remains relatively uncrowded, the bad side is that lots of people miss out on some truly fantastic wines, some of which are close to impossible to enjoy outside of Italy.

I, myself, nearly missed out on the whole event. It was a rough week and I nearly forgot about the entire event, which meant that I rushed over there at the last minute, and arrived without my notebook, my clipboard, my camera, and my presence of mind. Frankly I was a mess.

But that didn't keep me from tasting as much as I could manage in the time provided. I got a free notebook from a marketing person, borrowed a pen, and dove into the 2006 Tre Bicchieri winners. You don't get any photos, but you get my usual nearly-comprehensive coverage of the wines. Here are my tasting notes.

1993 Avignonesi Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice, Tuscany. Score: 9.5/10. Cost: $250 per half.
2004 Feudi di San Gregorio "Pietracalda" Fiano di Avellino, Campania. Score: 9.5/10. Cost: $25.
2000 Bellavista "Gran Cuvée Pas Operé" Franciacorta (sparkling), Lombardy. Score: 9.5/10. Cost: $63.

1996 Cavit Graal Brut Riserva (sparkling) Trento Altemasi, Trentino. Score: 9.5. Cost: $27.

2004 Volpe Pasini "Zuc di Volpe" Sauvignon Blanc Collio, Fruili. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $30.
2004 Avignonesi Russiz Superiore Sauvignon (Blanc), Tuscany. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $21.
2003 Fazi "Massaccio" Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, Marche. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $25.
2004 Cantina Produttori Termeno "Stoan" Gewürztraminer blend, Alto Adige. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $40.

2001 Monte Rossa "Cabochon" Franciacorta Brut (sparkling), Lombardy. Score: 9. Cost: $40.
2004 Fiegl Pinot Grigio Collio, Fruili. Score: 9. Cost: $20.
2003 Castello della Sala (Antinori) "Cervaro della Sala" White Blend, Umbria. Score: 9. Cost: $40.
2004 Eugenio Collavini "Broy" Bianco Collio, Fruili. Score: 9. Cost: $22.
2001 Livio Felluga Terre Alta Sossa White Blend Collio, Fruili. Score: 9. Cost: $35.
2003 Roberto Anselmi "Capitel Croce" White Blend, Veneto. Score: 9. Cost: $18.
2004 - Tenuta J. Hofstätter Gewürztraminer Kolbenhof, Alto Adige. Score: 9. Cost: $45.

2002 Umani Ronchi "Plenio" Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Riserva, Marche. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $15.
2003 Bastianich "Vespa" Bianco, Fruili Venezia Giulia. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $25.
2004 Cantina Produttori Termeno "Nussbaumer" Gewürztraminer, Alto Adige. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $32.
2004 Suavia "Monte Carbonare" Soave Classico, Veneto. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $??.
1998 Ferghettina Franciacorta Extra Brut (sparkling), Lombardy. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $40.

2004 Cantina Produttori San Michele Appiano "Sanct Valentin" Sauvignon (blanc), Alto Adige. Score: 8.5. Cost: $37.
2001 Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio Collio, Fuili. Score: 8.5. Cost: $22.
2004 Abbazia di Novacella "Praepositus" Kerner, Valle Isarco, Alto Adige. Score: 8.5. Cost: $??.
2004 Isidoro Polencic Tocai Friulano Collio, Fruili. Score: 8.5. Cost: $22.

2002 Cantina Terlano "Vorberg" Pinot Bianco Riserva, Alto Adige. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $25.
2003 Bucci Riserva Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Villa. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $30.

2001 Bruno Giacosa "Falletto" Barolo, Piedmont. Score: 9.5/10. Cost: $175.
1999 Centolani "Tenuta Friggiali" Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Tuscany. Score: 9.5/10. Cost: $95.
2000 Brigaldara "Case Vecie" Amarone della Valpolicella, Veneto. Score: 9.5/10. Cost: $60.

2002 Tenuta dell'Ornellaia "Ornellaia" Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany. Score: 9.5. Cost: $150.
1999 Castello Banfi "Poggio all'Oro Riserva" Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany. Score: 9.5. Cost: $125.
2000 Masi "Campolongo di Torbe" Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Veneto. Score: 9.5. Cost: $135.
2001 Dino Illuminati "Colline Teramane Pieluni" Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva. Score: 9.5. Cost: $70.
2001 Bruno Giacosa "Santo Stefano" Barbaresco, Piedmont. Score: 9.5. Cost: $175.
2003 Ca' Viola "Bric du Luv" Langhe Rosso, Piedmont. Score: 9.5. Cost: $47.

2001 Livio Felluga "Sossa" Rosazzo Riserva, Fruili. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $40.
1999 Greppone Mazzi - Tenimenti Ruffino Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Tuscany. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $190.
2003 Feudi di San Gregorio "Serpico" Red Blend, Campania. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $65.
2004 Quinto Chionetti & Figlio "Briccolero" Dolcetto di Doglani, Piedmont. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $21.
2003 Firriato "Harmonium" Nero d' Avola. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $50.
2001 Einaudi "Costa Grimaldi" Barolo, Piedmont. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $80.
2001 Tenuta Col d'Orcia "Olmaia" Cabernet, Tuscany. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $40.
2001 Damilano Cannubi Barolo, Piedmont. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $79.
2002 Colpetrone Montefalco Sagrantino, Umbria. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $60.
2001 Elvio Cogno "Ravera" Barolo, Piedmont. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $62.
2003 Luigi Cataldi "Madonna" Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Malandrino, Abruzzo. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $39.
2003 Giovanni Almondo "Valdiana" Roero Bric, Piedmont. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $30.
2004 Cusumano "Sagana" Red Blend, Sicilu. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $30.
2003 Poliziano "Le Stanze" Red Blend, Tuscany. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $??.
2001 Isole e Olena "Cepparello" Red Blend, Tuscany. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $45.
2003 Tenuta Coppadoro Radicosa, Apulia. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $35.
1999 Vigna Rionda (Massolino) Barolo Riserva, Piedmont. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $63.
2001 Prunotto "Bussia" Barolo, Piedmont. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $75.

2001 La Spinetta Barolo, Piedmont. Score: 9. Cost: $120.
2003 Rivera "Castel del Monte" Nero di Troia Puer Apuliae, Apulia. Score: 9. Cost: $30.
2002 Nino Negri Valtellina Sfursat, Lombardy. Score: 9. Cost: $??.
2002 Tenuta San Guido "Sassicaia" Bolgheri, Tuscany. Score: 9. Cost: $190.
2003 Cantele Amativo, Apulia. Score: 9. Cost: $??.

2003 Villa Medoro Colline Teramane Adrano Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $22.
2000 Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $59.
2003 La Spinetta "Bionzo" Barbera d'Asti Superiore, Piedmont. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $45.
2001 Vietti "Rocche" Barolo, Piedmont. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $80.
2003 Braida "Bricco dell'Uccellone" Barbera d'Asti, Piedmont. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $75.
2000 Produttori del Barbaresco Vigneti in Montefico Barbaresco Riserva, Piedmont. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $50.
2003 Palari Faro, Sicily. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $50.
1998 Cav. G.B. Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Veneto. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $??.

2003 Fattoria Poggiopiano "Rosso di Sera," Tuscany. Score: 8.5. Cost: $40.
2003 Vistorta - Brandino Brandolini d'Adda Merlot, Friuli Grave. Score: 8.5. Cost: $65.
2003 Villa Pigna "Rozzano" Montepulciano, Marche. Score: 8.5. Cost: $??.
2002 Castelluccio Ronco dei Ciliegi, Emilia Romagna. Score: 8.5. Cost: $25.
2004 Cusumano "Noa" Red Blend, Sicily. Score: 8.5. Cost: $30.

2000 Vitanza Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $50.
2003 La Vis "Valle di Cembra" Rosso Ritratto, Trentino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $23.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud