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03.05.2010

Italy's Best Wines: Tasting the Tre Bicchieri 2010

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 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. Each year the organization 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 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 leave the tasting every year pining for many of these wines, and wishing I had the means to add them to my collection, though invariably, there are always some fantastic $15 wines that are easy to seek out and find. It's quite a contrast to attend this tasting merely a week or two after tasting 200 barrel samples of Napa Cabernet. Comparing Napa Valley to the whole of Italy is quite unfair, of course, but the adjacency of the two tastings definitely provides the opportunity to reflect on how narrow an experience one would have if they only drank wines from Napa.

This year I was particularly taken by a number of 2005 Barolos which are hitting the market after the much vaunted 2004 vintage and not getting the attention they deserve, in my opinion. I also fell head over heels in love with yet another wine from the flanks of the volcano -- my next trip to Italy absolutely must include a pilgrimage to Etna.

Without further ado, here's what I thought of these wines.

Whites

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5

2008 Cantina Termeno A. A. Gewürztraminer Nussbaumer, Alto Adige. $45
Pale gold in the glass, this wine has a beautifully fragrant nose of classic rose petal aromas. In the mouth it is rich and silky in texture with flavors of rose petals, orange blossom water, and a mixed bouquet of flowers that rise through an incredible finish. Click to buy.

2008 Donnafugata Passito di Pantelleria Ben Rye, Sicilia. $25
Medium gold in the glass, this wine has a nose of freshly cut cedar and orange blossoms. In the mouth it is thick and sweet but with bright acidity that buoys flavors of candied orange peel, honey, and white flowers through a beautiful finish. Wow.

2007 Livon Braide Alte, Friuli Venezia Giulia. $45
Pale blonde in color, this wine has a wonderful nose of green melon and floral aromas. In the mouth it offers rich silky textured flavors of star fruit, cucumber, and delicate white flowers that linger in a very long finish. The foundation of the wine is a deep rainwater minerality that is faint but persistent. Excellent.


WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5

2008 Marisa Cuomo Costa d'Amalfi Fiorduva, Campania. $42
Pale gold in the glass, this wine has a nose of peachy and vanilla aromas. In the mouth it is zingy and floral with orange zest and rose petal flavors, which morph to more citrus notes in the very long, clean finish. Delectable.

2008 Venica & Venica Collio Sauvignon Ronco delle Mele, Friuli Venezia Giulia. $40
Palest gold in color, this wine practically explodes out of the glass with what may be the most incredibly floral set of aromas I've ever smelled on a wine. In the mouth it offers an incredibly delicate bouquet of mixed white flowers, from Lilly of the Valley to jasmine, all doused with rainwater and fresh green apple juice. An altogether disarming and beautiful wine. Click to buy.

NV Nino Franco Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut Rustico, Veneto. $18. Click to buy.
2000 Ferrari Trento Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore Brut, Trentino. $70.

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2007 La Vis/Valle di Cembra  Ritratto Bianco, Trentino. $16
2008 Cantina Produttori San Michele Appiano A. A. Sauvignon St.Valentin, Alto Adige. $45
2006 Cantina Terlano A. A.Terlano Pinot Bianco Vorberg is., Alto Adige. $30
2008 Cantine Lunae Bosoni     Colli di Luni Vermentino Cavagino, Liguria. $??
2008 I Campi Soave Cl. Campo Vulcano, Veneto. $25
2005 Il Mosnel Franciacorta Satèn, Lombardia. $??
2007 Jermann Vintage Tunina, Friuli Venezia Giulia. $50
2008 Nino Franco Valdobbiadene Grave di Stecca Brut, Veneto. $28
2008 Planeta  Cometa, Sicilia. $??
2006 Terre Cortesi Conero Vign. Del Parco Riserva, Marche. $??
2007 Villa Sparina Gavi del Comune di Gavi Monterotondo, Piemonte. $50
2008 Volpe Pasini COF Pinot Bianco Zuc di Volpe, Friuli Venezia Giulia. $32

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2007 Ca' Rugate Recioto di Soave La Perlara, Veneto. $??
2008 Cantine Lunae Bosoni Colli di Luni Vermentino Etichetta Lunae Nera, Liguria. $??
2007 Cusumano  Sàgana, Sicilia. $20
2007 Gioacchino Garofoli  Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Cl. Sup. Podium, Marche. $20
2008 Ottella Lugana Sup. Molceo, Veneto. $16
2008 Pietracupa  Greco di Tufo, Campania. $25
2008 Prà Soave Cl. Monte Grande, Veneto. $30
2006 Terre Cortesi Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Cl. V. Novali Ris., Marche. $??

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2008 Ca' Rugate Soave Cl. Monte Fiorentine, Veneto. $23
2002 Cesarini Sforza Trento Aquila Reale Brut Ris., Trentino. $90
2004 Guido Berlucchi & C. Franciacorta Brut Extrême Palazzo Lana, Lombardia. ?
2007 Ottella Lugana Sup. Molceo, Veneto. $25
2006 Perticaia Montefalco Sagrantino, Umbria. $50
2007 Sergio Mottura Latour a Civitella, Lazio. $18
2008 Sergio Mottura Grechetto Poggio della Costa, Lazio. $18
2008 Tenute Sella & Mosca  Vermentino di Gallura Monteoro, Sardegna. $??
2008 Vitivinicola Broglia Gavi del Comune di Gavi Bruno Broglia, Piemonte. $36

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2005 F.lli Giorgi OP Pinot Nero Brut Cl. 1870, Lombardia. $??
2002 Cavit Trento Altemasi Graal Brut Ris., Trentino. $49


Reds


RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5

2005 Batasiolo Barolo Boscareto, Piemonte. $75
Light ruby in the glass this wine has a wonderfully floral nose of dried flowers, herbs, and redcurrants. In the mouth it offers redcurrant and raspberry flavors that mix with dried flowers. You could call the wine delicate but for the muscular tannins that underlie the gorgeous fruit and floral qualities that linger with excellent balance in the finish.

2004 Elvio Cogno Barolo V. Elena, Piemonte. $110
Light ruby in color, this wine has an incredibly aromatic nose of cherry and cedar aromas with hints of the floral. In the mouth it is beautifully juicy with cherry, leather, cedar and redcurrant fruit supported by firm, leathery tannins and enlivened with great acidity. The wine finishes long and airy. Outstanding.

2007 Palari Faro Palari, Sicilia. $65
Light ruby in color, this wine has a nearly otherworldly nose of dried flowers and a perfect summer's day, with an underlying brightness of fruit. In the mouth it is nothing short of stunning, with near perfect balance and acidity cradling delicate flavors of redcurrant, cherry, and again that heavenly floral quality. The faintest of tannins give some grip and body to the wine, and they have an incredible sweet aroma to them that is quite unlike any other wine I've had. Remarkable and compelling.

2005 Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Cl., Veneto. $60
Dark garnet in color, this wine has a rich beautiful nose of violets and cassis fruit. In the mouth the wine offers the light sweetness of dried cherry fruit with rich chocolate covered cherry cordials and violets. The wine has an incredibly long finish that incorporates hints of spices. Stunning.

2004 Palari Faro Palaro, Sicilia. $n/a.


RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2005 Castellare di Castellina I Sodi di San Niccolò, Toscana. $70
2005 Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Sarmassa, Piemonte.
2006 Allegrini Dedicato a Walter, Veneto. $120
2006 Barone Ricasoli Chianti Cl. Castello di Brolio, Toscana. $58
2005 Batasiolo Barolo Cerequio, Piemonte. $75
2005 Ettore Germano Barolo Cerretta, Piemonte. $80
2007 Fattoria Carpineta Fontalpino Do Ut Des, Toscana. $35
2006 Fattoria di  Felsina Fontalloro, Toscana. $??
2007 Fattoria Petrolo Galatrona, Toscana. $120
2001 Fontanafredda Barolo Lazzarito V. La Delizia, Piemonte. $110
2004 Giancarlo Travaglini Gattinara Ris., Piemonte. $??
2006 Isole e Olena Cepparello, Toscana. $70
2005 Malvirà Roero Renesio Ris., Piemonte. $60
2004 Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Cl. Campolongo di Torbe, Veneto. $120
2006 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti Sup. La Nizza Court, Piemonte. $55
2004 Oddero Barolo Mondoca di Bussia Soprana, Piemonte. $60
2007 Palari  Rosso del Soprano, Sicilia. $35
2005 Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato, Piemonte. $109
2006 Podere Le Berne Nobile di Montepulciano, Toscana. $33
2006 Podere Sapaio Bolgheri Sapaio Sup., Toscana. $45
2005 Prunotto Barolo Bussia, Piemonte. $90
2004 San Giorgio Brunello di Montalcino Ugolforte, Toscana. $65
2006 Velenosi  Rosso Piceno Sup. Roggio del Filare, Marche. $54
2005 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito, Piemonte. $150

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2005 Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Cl., Veneto. $90
2006 Benanti Etna Rosso Serra della Contessa , Sicilia. $??
2005 Brezza & Figli Giacomo Barolo Sarmassa, Piemonte. $75
2006 Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Asili, Piemonte. $??
2007 Cantele    Amativo, Puglia. $??
2007 Castello Monaci   Artas, Puglia. $35
2006 Donnafugata Contessa Entellina Milleunanotte, Sicilia. $90
2006 Fattoria Colle Allodole Montefalco Sagrantino Colleallodole, Umbria. $90
2006 Feudi della Medusa  Gerione , Sardegna. $80
2007 Feudo Maccari  Saia, Sicilia. $??
2004 Fontanafredda Barolo Lazzarito V. La Delizia, Piemonte. $110
2005 G. D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole, Piemonte. $??
2007 Giovanni Almondo Roero Bric Valdiana, Piemonte. $55
2007 Guerrieri Rizzardi Valpolicella Cl. Sup. Ripasso Poiega, Veneto. $??
2006 Melini Chianti Cl. La Selvanella Ris., Toscana. $25
2005 Michele Chiarlo Barolo Cerequio, Piemonte. $99
2006 Nino Negri Valtellina Sfursat, Lombardia. $45
2006 Nino Negri Valtellina Sfursat 5 Stelle, Lombardia. $70
2006 Pelissero Barbaresco Vanotu, Piemonte. $65
2007 Pietradolce  Etna Rosso Archineri, Sicilia. $35
2007 Rocca di Frassinello Baffo Nero, Toscana. n/a
2006 Serafini & Vidotto Montello e Colli Asolani Il Rosso dell'Abazia, Veneto. $60
2006 Tenuta Mazzolino  OP Pinot Nero Noir, Lombardia. $??
2006 Tenuta Olim Bauda Barbera d'Asti Sup. Nizza, Piemonte. $40
2006 Tenuta San Guido Bolgheri Sassicaia, Toscana. $150
2007 Tormaresca  Masseria Maime, Puglia. $40
2006 Valle Reale  Montepulciano d'Abruzzo San Calisto, Abruzzo. $38

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2006 Antinori Tignanello, Toscana. $95
2004 Antonelli - San Marco Montefalco Sagrantino Chiusa di Pannone, Umbria. $??
2006 Argentiera Bolgheri Sup. Argentiera, Toscana. $??
2007 Barone Ricasoli Chianti Cl. Brolio, Toscana. $22
2006 Barone Ricasoli Casalferro, Toscana. $51
2005 Benanti Il Drappo, Sicilia. $??
2004 Canalicchio - Franco Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino, Toscana. $??
2006 Cantine Lunae Bosoni     Colli di Luni Rosso Niccolo V, Liguria. $??
2006 Castello di Cigognola  OP Barbera Castello di Cigognola, Lombardia. $??
2006 Cesarini Sforza Chianti Cl. Villa Cafaggio Ris., Toscana. $28
2005 Còlpetrone Montefalco Sagrantino Gold, Umbria. $85
2006 Conti Zecca   Nero, Puglia. $??
2007 Di Majo Norante Molise Aglianico Contado Ris., Molise. $18
2006 Famiglia Cecchi Coevo, Toscana. $60
2007 Feudi del Pisciotto  Nero d'Avola Versace, Sicilia. $33
2004 Greppone Mazzi - Tenimenti Ruffino Brunello di Montalcino, Toscana. $75
2007 Librandi Cirò Rosso Duca Sanfelice Ris., Calabria. $23
2004 MezzaCorona  Teroldego Rotaliano Nos Ris., Trentino. $39
2006 Nino Negri Valtellina Superiore Mazer, Lombardia. $35
2004 Podere La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino, Toscana. $??
2006 Poliziano Nobile di Montepulciano Asinone, Toscana. $??
2006 San Patrignano  Colli di Rimini Cabernet Montepirolo, Emila Romagna. $??
2006 Tenuta La Fuga Nozzole, Toscana. $??
2007 Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto, Toscana. $40
2005 Tenuta Sant'Antonio Amarone della Valpolicella Campo dei Gigli, Veneto. $125
2007 Terre del Principe Centomoggia, Campania. $??
2006 Umani Ronchi  Pelago, Marche. $99
2006 Umani Ronchi  Conero Cumaro Riserva, Marche. $52
2006 Villa Medoro  Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane Adrano, Abruzzo. $??

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2006 Cantina Convento Muri-Gries A. A. Lagrein Abtei Ris., Alto Adige. $??
2007 Castello di Cigognola  Barbera Dodicidodici, Lombardia. $??
2008 Ermete Medici & Figli Reggiano Lambrusco Concerto, Emila Romagna. $21
2005 Guerrieri Rizzardi Amarone della Valpolicella Cl. Villa Rizzardi, Veneto. $??
2007 Tasca d'Almerita  Cabernet Sauvignon, Sicilia. $70
2004 Tenuta La Fuga Brunello di Montalcino, Toscana. $65
2006 Tenuta La Fuga Cabreo il Borgo, Toscana. $50
2004 Tenute Sella & Mosca Alghero Marchese di Villamarina, Sardegna. $??
2006 Villa Vignamaggio Vignamaggio, Toscana. $97


RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8
2007 Bricco Maiolica Diano d'Alba Sup. Sörì Bricco Maiolica, Piemonte. $??

Comments (13)

03.06.10 at 8:04 AM

Alder

I have to check my tasting notes and see if we agree on more than the Ben Rye 'Vino Passito' which I wrote about for the last Wine Blogging Wednesday and the Grechetto from Sergio Mottura (Organic and I like that porcupine on the label).

I think this year's event (in NY) was a notch down from the 2 previous years.

Bon week-end

Serge (the Concierge)

Susan Guerra wrote:
03.06.10 at 9:09 AM

Alder

Like you, I pride myself on having broad tastes in wine but I have to admit that Italian wine is always my answer to the "If you could only drink wine from one country..." question. Surely that is due (in part) to pride in my heritage but it is also due to the incredible diversity that Italy has to offer.

In addition to the internationally renown wines, there are ancient varieties (long thought to be extinct) that continue to be stumbled upon and embraced by winemakers--offering something interesting and unexpected at every turn.

Thanks you for this wonderful post and shopping list/Letter to Santa!

Sue

cernilli wrote:
03.08.10 at 3:48 AM

Alder, thank you for your comments. I'm Daniele Cernilli, the Gambero Rosso's editor in chief.

Anthony wrote:
03.08.10 at 7:08 AM

Great post Alder - I am wondering if you have picked up any of the negative buzz around the Gambero Rosso organization? The Slow Food movement has has a parting of the ways with them and there are lots of rumors about the politics of what wines get scored, and the scores they receive. But also as you mention - the quality story here in Italy is just amazing. Huge strides have been made in the last ten years or more - it is a great time to drink Italian wine. Sounds like this was a wonderful event.

03.08.10 at 8:00 AM

Great event, as usual. Good to have run into you there. Impressive feat for you, Alder, to opine on so many wines, without getting your palate shot. I instead chose the strategy of focusing on fewer wines, but to re-taste them throughout the evening. I wasn't as smitten with Donnafugata - thought it had the deliciousness factor but lacked on complexity (the Recioto di Soave, I thought, was more interesting). Low and behold, as the evening went on, my impression of certain wines changed, reinforcing the validity IMHO of the re-tasting approach.

Alder Yarrow wrote:
03.08.10 at 9:14 AM

Anthony,

Thanks for the comments. I've heard some grumbling for a couple of years about how the same folks always win, and that some of the lesser regions are given short shrift. But beyond that I'm not familiar with anything more specific, nor have I heard any specific item that led to the slow food departure.

BaroloDude wrote:
03.08.10 at 12:26 PM

Thanks for letting me know what I missed this year. Sad to have missed it, but after last years disappointment (many of the big names packed up and left before the general public segment started) I decided to pass this year.

Dear Gambero Rosso, you need to ensure that the wineries/pourers bring enough wine for the general public and stay for those few hours too.

Alder, i see many names missing from last years tasting. Like Querciabella, Di Ama, and others... were they not there or did you just not make it over to taste them?

Anthony wrote:
03.08.10 at 12:31 PM

BaroloDude being in one year or several doesn't mean you'll make the cut in the latest edition. I personally know a Tre Bicchieri winner who was excluded the next year - it happens!

Alder Yarrow wrote:
03.08.10 at 7:23 PM

BaroloDude,

There were a lot of producers that normally attend this event that were not there, in addition to the ones you mentioned: Giacosa, Dino Illuminati, Bellavista. It was a smaller group than usual and some of the stars were definitely not out. I don't know whether this is due to the economy, the lack of Slow Food involvement, or what.

Last year's event in LA was a near disaster because of transport issues I think -- many of the wines didn't show up for the event until very very late because of snowstorms back east.

Having said that, I do think that this event is one of the more poorly publicized events out there, especially when it comes to the public portion, and I have seen many producers simply leave when it came time to the public portion of the event, even if they hadn't poured out of their wines.

amy wrote:
03.09.10 at 9:38 AM

Alder
We had a few of the same favorites. My top few were :
The Valteliina Sup. Mazer, The Donnafugata Passito, Guerrieri Rizzardi Amarone, Castello di Cgognola Barbera, Firriato Harmonium, Antinori Maaeria maine, Marisa Cuomo Fiorduva, Benati Il Drappo, Felsina Fontalloro and the Tasca D'Almerita Cab.

JD wrote:
03.15.10 at 9:56 AM

Great event. I agree 100% that Barolo 2005 is underrated. I tasted several 05's last year and several 06 Barolos at an event last January and I personally clearly prefer the 05 vintage to 06, since it offers more fruit, balance and elegance (if you can speak of that in a young Barolo at all). The 2006 Barolos I tasted had very harsh tannins and often little fruit and a significant lack of structure, I found. (And no, tannins alone are not structure). Only the best producers had managed to extract softer tannins - e.g. Altare was one of them. But then, many critics prefer the 06, so be it. I found the excellent 2007 Barberas more exciting than the 2006 Barolos that night.

I also agree on the potential of wines from Sicily. After trying to copy international wines made from Syrah and Co., the autochtonous grapes are finally making an appearance again. Especially, the wines from mount Etna are very exciting. Palari and Benanti are wineries to watch out for with many interesting wines to try.

03.22.10 at 4:53 AM

I can't wait to try some of these wines. I'm a huge fan of Old World reds. One of my favorite Italians from last year is 2003 Vietti Masseria.

Sabilia wrote:
04.01.10 at 12:52 PM

I only dream of affording great wines such as these. Having lived in Sicily for six years, I did enjoy an occasion glass as a guest in someone's home. However, in the US a $75 bottle of imported wine isn't always practical. Salute to the Italians for their exquisite taste in the beauty of food, wine, music, family and laughter!

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