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03.11.2008

Italy's Best Wines: Tasting the Tre Bicchieri Winners 2008

I pride myself on my broad tastes in wine. I like wine from everywhere, and don't believe I have a specific bias towards one region or another. However, each year, that claim is shaken a little bit as I emerge from what is one of the best wine tasting events held in San Francisco, The Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri tasting.

For those unfamiliar with the Gambero Rosso, it is essentially an organization focused on the promotion and evaluation of Italian food and wine that each year publishes a guide by the same name. The Gambero Rosso is the Italian Wine bible, and in my experience, it is the most thorough and high-quality guide to any wine region that exists in the world. The guide covers a dizzying 14,000+ wines each year from the incredibly diverse regions of Italy.

Each year the Gambero Rosso guide awards one, two, or three "Bicchieri" (or "glasses") to wines of exceptional character and quality. From tens of thousands, there are usually a couple of hundred Tre Bicchieri wines, and every Spring, along with Slow Food USA, the Gambero Rosso brings many of them to San Francisco for the media and the trade to taste.

While I don't love all the wines at this tasting, I am constantly amazed by the quality and individuality of these wines. I rarely leave big tastings doing mental arithmetic about just how much more money I can squeeze into my wine budget in order to buy a bunch of wines I just tasted, but this tasting almost always leaves me re-allocating my spending so that I can pick up a couple of my favorite bottles. At least the ones that are reasonably priced.

Without further ado, let me get on with the tasting notes. I've tried my darndest to classify the wines below correctly, but in some cases where my notes were fuzzy, I might have classified a white as a red or vice versa (gasp!). If anyone spots such an error, please let me know.

TASTING NOTES:

White

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2001 Bellavista Franciacorta Extra Brut Vittorio Moretti, Lombardia. $200
2005 Jermann Capo Martino, Friuli Venezia Giulia. $60
2006 Cantine Gran Furor Divina Costiera Costa d'Amalfi Furore Bianco Fiorduva, Campania. $50

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2002 Ca' del Bosco Franciacorta Satèn, Lombardia. $85
2006 Elena Walch A. A. Gewürztraminer Kastelaz, Alto Adige. $??
2006 Pra  Soave Cl. Monte Grande, Veneto. $25
2005 Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Cl. Villa Bucci Ris., Marche. $39
2006 Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo Cutizzi, Campania. $30
2006 Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo Novaserra, Campania. $??

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2005 Cesconi Olivar, Trentino. $28
2003 Monte Rossa Franciacorta Brut Cabochon, Lombardia. $??
2006 Cantina Termeno A. A. Gewürztraminer Nussbaumer, Alto Adige. $45
2006 Cantina Produttori San Michele Appiano A. A. Sauvignon St. Valentin, Alto Adige. $42
2005 Cantina Terlano A. A. Terlano Sauvignon Quarz, Alto Adige. $40
2006 Suavia Soave Cl. Monte Carbonare, Veneto. $21
2005 Inama Soave Cl. Vign. Du Lot, Veneto. $??
2006 La Tunella COF BiancoSesto, Friuli Venezia Giulia. $22
2006 Eugenio Collavini Collio Bianco Broy, Friuli Venezia Giulia. $49
2006 Ronco dei Tassi Collio Bianco Fosarin, Friuli Venezia Giulia. $20
2006 Castello di Spessa Collio Pinot Bianco, Friuli Venezia Giulia. $30
2006 Pietracupa Greco di Tufo, Campania. $30

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2005 Claudio Mariotto Colli Tortonesi Bianco Pitasso, Piemonte. $25
2003 Ca' del Bosco Franciacorta Dosage Zéro, Lombardia. $85
2005 Cavalchina Bianco di Custoza Sup. Amedeo, Veneto. $18
2005 Leonildo Pieropan Soave Cl. Calvarino, Veneto. $40
2005 Tenuta Sant'Antonio Soave Monte Ceriani, Veneto. $20
2006 Volpe Pasini COF Tocai Friulano Zuc di Volpe, Friuli Venezia Giulia. $32
2006 Venica & Venica Collio Tocai Friulano Ronco delle Cime, Friuli Venezia Giulia. $16
2004 G.B. Odoardi Scavigna Vigna Garrone, Calabria. $48

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2006 Cantina Gries/Cantina di Bolzano A. A. Pinot Bianco Collection Dellago, Alto Adige. $15
2006 Monte Tondo Soave Cl. Monte Tondo, Veneto. $20
2005 Sergio Mottura Grechetto Latour a Civitella, Lazio. $35

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 7.5 AND 8
2006 Lis Neris Fiore di Campo, Friuli Venezia Giulia. $22


Red


RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2003 Monfalletto Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo Enrico VI, Piemonte. $79
2001 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Ris., Piemonte. $300
2001 Vigna Rionda - Massolino Barolo V. Rionda Ris., Piemonte. $115
2001 Stefano Accordini Amarone Vigneto Il Fornetto , Veneto. $??
2001 Podere Brizio Brunello di Montalcino Ris., Toscana. $135
2003 Castellare di Castellina I Sodi di San Niccola, Toscana. $78
2004 Poliziano Nobile di Montepulciano Asinone, Toscana. $60
2005 Valle Reale Montepulciano d'Abruzzo San Calisto, Abruzzo. $42
2004 Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Villa Gemma, Abruzzo. $100
2005 Palari Faro Palari, Sicilia. $48

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2005 Braida Barbera d'Asti Bricco dell'Uccellone, Piemonte. $70
2003 Elio Grasso Barolo Ginestra V. Casa Maté, Piemonte. $65
2003 Giacomo Brezza & Figli Barolo Sarmassa, Piemonte. $75
2004 Vigneti Massa Bigolla Barbera , Piemonte. $38
2005 Ca' Viola Langhe Rosso Bric du Luv, Piemonte. $60
2005 Hilberg - Pasquero Nebbiolo d'Alba, Piemonte. $55
2005 Mamete Prevostini Valtellina Sforzato Albareda, Lombardia. $40
2004 Nino Negri Valtellina Sfursat, Lombardia. $45
2003 Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Cl., Veneto. $90
2001 Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Cl. Mazzano, Veneto. $150
2004 Stefano Accordini Recioto della Valpolicella Cl. Acinatico, Veneto. $??
2004 San Patrignano Colli di Rimini Cabernet Montepirolo, Emilia Romagna. $70
2004 Argentiera Bolgheri Sup. Argentiera, Toscana. $55
2004 Tenuta dell' Ornellaia Bolgheri Sup. Ornellaia, Toscana. $150
2001 Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino Ris., Toscana. $100
2004 Querciabella Camartina, Toscana. $100
2003 San Felice Chianti Cl. Poggio Rosso Ris., Toscana. $55
2004 Livernano Chianti Cl. Ris., Toscana. $35
2004 Tenuta di Valgiano Colline Lucchesi Tenuta di Valgiano, Toscana. $40
2004 Castello di Vicchiomaggio FSM, Toscana. $210
2005 Fattoria Petrolo Galatrona, Toscana. $100
2004 Tenuta dell' Ornellaia Masseto, Toscana. $300
2005 Rocca di Frassinello Rocca di Frassinello, Toscana. $55
2004 Fattoria Le Pupille Saffredi, Toscana. $160
2004 Velenosi Rosso Piceno Sup. Roggio del Filare, Marche. $55
2005 Falesco Montiano, Umbria. $45
2003 Bruno Nicodemi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane Neromoro Ris., Abruzzo. $60
2005 Feudi di San Gregorio Irpinia Serpico, Campania. $75
2003 Terre degli Svevi Aglianico del Vulture Vign. Serpara, Basilicata. $43
2005 Tormaresca Primitivo di Manduria Masseria Maime, Puglia. $35
2004 Benanti Etna Rosso Serra della Contessa, Sicilia. $65

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2004 Malvira Roero Sup. Mombeltramo, Piemonte. $??
2004 Angelo Negero & Figli Roero Sudisfa , Piemonte. $50
2004 Piero Busso Barbaresco S. Stefanetto, Piemonte. $55
2000 Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Ghemme Collis Breclemae , Piemonte. $28
2004 Villa Sparina Monferrato Rosso Rivalta, Piemonte. $85
2004 Nicola Balter Barbanico IGT , Trentino. $23
2004 Elena Walch A. A. Lagrein Castel Ringberg Ris., Alto Adige. $58
2005 Cantina Produttori Santa Maddalena/Cantina di Bolzano A. A. Lagrein Scuro Taber Ris., Alto Adige. $40
2003 Lorenzo Begali Amarone della Valpolicella Cl., Veneto. $??
2004 Grattamacco Bolgheri Rosso Sup. Grattamacco, Toscana. $75
2004 Grattamacco Colemassari Montecucco Riserva , Toscana. $60
2001 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto, Toscana. $??
2001 Donna Olga Brunello di Montalcino Ris., Toscana. $??
2004 Castello del Terriccio Castello del Terriccio, Toscana. $??
2004 Il Molino di Grace Chianti Cl. Il Margone Ris., Toscana. $38
2004 Fattoria di Felsina Chianti Cl. Rancia Ris., Toscana. $39
2004 Poderi Boscarelli Nobile di Montepulciano Nocio dei Boscarelli, Toscana. $38
2004 Marchesi Antinori Tignanello, Toscana. $100
2005 Castello della Sala Cervaro della Sala, Umbria. $45
2004 Colpetrone Montefalco Sagrantino, Umbria. $??
2001 Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici Ris., Campania. $??
2004 Bisceglia Aglianico del Vulture Gudarra, Basilicata. $23
2005 Accademia dei Racemi Dunico Masseria Pepe, Puglia. $27
2005 Librandi Gravello, Calabria. $45
2005 Planeta Burdese, Sicilia. $40
2004 Tasca d'Almerita Contea di Sclafani Rosso del Conte, Sicilia. $65
2004 Benanti Il Drappo, Sicilia. $36
2005 Cusumano Sagana, Sicilia. $28

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2001 Vietti Barolo Villero Ris., Piemonte. $400
2005 Cascina La Pertica Garda Cabernet Le Zalte, Lombardia. $35
2002 Aldo Rainoldi Valtellina Sfursat Fruttaio Ca' Rizzieri, Lombardia. $60
2004 Cantina Rotaliana Teroldego Rotaliano Ris., Trentino. $??
2006 Nicola Balter Clarae IGT Trentino. $12
2004 Cantina Convento Muri-Gries A. A. Lagrein Abtei Ris., Alto Adige. $35
2004 Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Costasera, Veneto. $60
2004 Barone Ricasoli Chianti Cl. Castello di Brolio, Toscana. $48
2004 Petra Petra Rosso, Toscana. $85
2004 Castello Banfi Sant'Antimo Mandrielle, Toscana. $45
2005 Villa Medoro Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane Adrano, Abruzzo. $40
2005 Di Majo Norante Molise Don Luigi, Molise. $56
2005 Montevetrano Montevetrano, Campania. $110
2005 Elena Fucci Aglianico del Vulture Titolo, Basilicata. $60
2005 Castello Monaci Artas, Puglia. $35
2004 Donnafugata Etna Rosso Contessa Entellina Milleunanotte, Sicilia. $??
2005 Cusumano Noa , Sicilia. $34
2004 Baglio di Pianetto Ramione, Sicilia. $30

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2003 Sella Bramaterra I Porfidi, Piemonte. $50
2001 Nicola Balter Trento Balter Ris., Trentino. $18
2003 Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Case Vecie, Veneto. $70
2005 Vistorta Friuli Grave Merlot Vistorta, Friuli Venezia Giulia. $35
2005 Barone Ricasoli Csalferro IGT , Toscana. $60
2004 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Cl. Coltassala Ris., Toscana. $50
2004 Tenimenti Luigi D'Alessandro Cortona Il Bosco, Toscana. $45
2004 Villa Vignamaggio Vignamaggio, Toscana. $30
2003 Lungarotti Torgiano Rosso Vigna Monticchio Ris., Umbria. $55
2005 Masciarelli Trebbiano d'Abruzzo Castello di Semivicoli, Abruzzo. $40
2002 Torrevento IGT Rosso , Puglia. $28
2004 Gulfi Neroma ccarj, Sicilia. $20

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2001 Salcheto Nobile di Montepulciano Salco Evoluzione, Toscana. $65
2004 Torrevento Castel del Monte Rosso V. Pedale Ris., Puglia. $40

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8
2004 Tenimenti Ruffino Modus, Toscana. $25
2005 Gualdo del Re Val di Cornia Rosso I'Rennero, Toscana. $60

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 7.5 AND 8
2005 Giuseppe Campagnola Valpolicella Cl. Sup. Caterina Zardini, Veneto. $15

Comments (5)

-Victor- wrote:
03.12.08 at 5:29 AM

Alder

I missed the New York version of this tasting this year, but have attended in the past. I agree with you in that it's one of the greatest lineups of wine anywhere. I live vicariously through you this year ... thanks !

Jason Ohmann wrote:
03.13.08 at 8:24 AM

I absolutely adore the Bellavista Franciacorte and every time I taste it I ask myself "why aren't more Champagne makers coming down to Franciacorte?" It seems like the potential there is almost limitless, yet I have not tasted another Franciacorte in the US that came even close.

I also see that you and are of a similar mind, that northern extreme Italian whites are peerless, yet so tragically unknown to a greater market.

Italian wines are like that schizophrenic girl you dated in college. Alarming, sometimes breathtaking, and almost always confusing, but you always find a way back to her and you can't quite tell if she's going to treat you kind or stick a knife in your back.

Alder wrote:
03.13.08 at 2:26 PM

Jason,

That's one hell of a metaphor. I absolutely love it. Thanks for the comments.

subpop wrote:
03.27.08 at 9:10 AM

I'm from Milan. Franciacorta Bellavista is one of my favourite spumante. Even better than French champagnes. Try "Ca' del Bosco" as well.

JP Webb wrote:
02.26.10 at 7:09 AM

One of the standouts at the tasting for me was the 05 vintage in Barolo. Not because it's a grand vintage, per se, but because the wines on display at Tre Bicchieri clearly defied the negativity I've been hearing from others in the biz. For a 'weak' vintage, the 05 Barolo I tasted sure showed a lot of generosity and approachability for short-term drinking and enough stuffing that it would be worth laying some down.

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