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The Best of Italian Wine: Gambero Rosso Winners for 2008

There are very few awards for that mean anything in this modern age we live in. There are so many different judging bodies and associations that most of them are marginalized before they even begin. I've lost my faith in gambero_2008.gifmost of them, and some, like the Oscars®, I gave up on decades ago. The Nobel prize, the Pulitzer, the Pritker prize for architecture -- there are only a few that manage to cling to respectability in an age of meaningless popularity contests.

One more that I might be tempted to add to the list, and in my opinion the only one in the wine world worth mentioning, is the Tre Bicchieri awards which are given away each year by the Gambero Rosso. While I attend the tasting of most of these wines each year and don't agree with all their picks, I'm pretty impressed with the level of quality and the selectivity of these awards. Each year they manage to sift through literally tens of thousands of wines and highlight some pretty tremendous ones. I'm sure these awards have their politics, but I'd use them as a guide for buying much more readily than any other set of wine awards that I'm aware of in the world.

Even among the most famous of wine 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 in the world, 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.

The Tre Bicchieri designation was conferred on only 305 of those 14,000 wines this year (up from 282 last year). Unfortunately the news has only been released to Italy, so the press release hasn't been translated into English yet, but you'll get the gist of it, and you can see the list of wines, of course.

I'm very happy to see some of my favorites on the list again (Gravner, Giacosa, Feudi di San Gregorio, and Quintarelli, among others) Check out the list.

Thanks to Jack over at Fork & Bottle for tipping me off to the news.

Comments (10)

Javier Marti wrote:
10.29.07 at 8:15 AM

This guide is THE bible for good eating and drinking in Italy. Our friends living in Italy use it frequently when buying wine and go out for dinner, and have never been disappointed. Actually, we recently published a small article about their culinaire experience in one of the recommended restaurants they visited last summer in Orvieto (Umbria).

Terry Hughes wrote:
10.29.07 at 9:45 AM

No offense to Javier and his friends, but there is a ton of grumbling about the politics and, let us say, corruption of the GR selection process. See my recent posts (http://tdh46.typepad.com/mondosapore/2007/10/tre-bicchieri-2.html) and those of Alfonso Cevola with my link to it (http://tdh46.typepad.com/mondosapore/2007/10/gambero-rotto-a.html), who caused quite a stir at GR HQ with his sarcastic comments.

Eric Stumpf wrote:
10.29.07 at 11:45 PM

Let's also mention this splendid wine guide was created by the Slow Food movement's founder Carlo Petrini and is one of many guides published by the Slow Food Editore....and there is no advertising found within the pages!

Javier Marti wrote:
10.31.07 at 1:55 AM

Hi Terry, I fully share your point. As you surely know, a large number of wineries are pushing extremely hard for thier wines to be in tasting panels of the relevant wine guides/critics, and even harder to get high scores! Having said that, I still think GR has a good choice of wines and restaurants for the big public :-) For us passionate wine lovers, guides are just indicative, since we build our own guides and share them in our blogs.

andrea gori wrote:
10.31.07 at 3:04 AM

Gambero rosso is the oldest but in italy we have 7 wine guides in total...I know that they are a bit too many but Espresso Wine Guide and DuemilaVini from Italian Sommelier Association (AIS) are to be considered together with the Gambero Rosso. But this one remains the only one translated in english and deutsch...

Terry Hughes wrote:
11.01.07 at 7:13 PM

Among the lot, I really do prefer the Espresso guide. They seem to favor a wider range of types and flavors than GR. One of the complaints that I hear every year at the NY Gambero Rosso do in March is that "everything tastes the same." In fact, this year I said it too. If you can't go nosing around in Italy, the best thing to do is go to a wine shop whose staff knows their stuff about Italian wine. Such a huge variety of grapes, terroirs, flavors, types, etc., etc.

Eric Stumpf wrote:
11.01.07 at 9:38 PM

Then again, it could just be a combination of the modern, international style permeating the market place AND/OR "Non-Tasters" who have yet to realize their handicap?? I wish the Espresso guide had an English translation, but then this is my handicap. Do you know Espresso's criteria for judging and the process? Is the focus on smaller, traditional producers who don't export?

andrea gori wrote:
11.02.07 at 2:01 AM

@terry, I agree with you about espresso. Last year they were the only one guide to review one of my favouite wine tasted in 2007, the Pinot Noif from Mugello, Florence, Podere Fortuna.

11.02.07 at 11:23 AM

I think that wine enthusiast, in Italy and everywhere, don't need of a "Bible" who propose the right wines to buy and drink, the wines "must". No Bible, no wine gurus, but people able to appreciate and judge and choose the right wines. Alder, don't celebrate too much Vini d'Italia...

11.07.07 at 7:13 AM

I think that all the guide give an indication of a range of good wine but it's more important the comment on the cellar not the two or three glasses, than is necessary tast this wines

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