Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gambero Rosso, Tre Bicchieri: The Who's Who of Italian Wine.

Gambero Rosso, the world’s authority on Italian food, wine and travel, are also the creators of Gambero Rosso’s Italian Wines, vini d’Italia 2011 and recognized to be the definitive annual guide to Italian wines. The term Tre Bicchieri (or three glasses) is a coveted award bestowed upon the best wines of Italy. Over 70 experts traveled around Italy for months, considering the samples (over 30,000 this year) from every region before classifying each and writing a review. From those, the best scoring wines are then assembled for further review and scores are assigned. One, two or, the highest honor, Tre Bicchieri.

The book is a who’s who of Italian wine and I highly recommend it; but what’s more, in an attempt to publicize Gambero Rosso’s Italian Wines, Gambero Rosso hosts a worldwide tour where industry and press can meet the producers, taste the wines and make their own judgments. Imagine if you will, tasting what’s already been deemed the best of the best.

From this tasting, I was able to spend time with 41 different wines that truly moved me to take notes. Of those 41, I have provided you with my top 10, as well as a link to all of my notes, for those who are interested. Keep in mind that some of these wines are not yet released but are well worth remembering, and each of these will find their way into my personal collection.

Arnaldo-Caprai has become synonymous with Sagrantino. He is a pioneer in the production of this still-obscure varietal that will only continue to gain notoriety. Sagrantino comes from Umbria and is a wine that can be enjoyed in its youth with decanting or age in your cellar. The 2007 25th Anni is one of the best examples I have yet to taste and a standout at the Tri-Bicchieri tasting.

2007 Arnaldo-Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco 25 Anni – On the nose, this wine was a monster with raspberry, holiday spices and dark earthy and forest notes. It verged on sweet, but there was something primal about this Sagrantino, which pulled it back to reality. On the palate, a massive wave of concentration was turned fresh by vibrant acidity, as blackberry jam, pomegranate, cinnamon and herbs washed across the tongue like silk. The finish showed this wine’s intimidating structure, as velvety tannin coated the mouth. The Arnaldo Caprai 25 Anni is highly enjoyable now and will likely age into something magical. (96 points) Info: Arnaldo-Caprai website (not yet available on Wine-Searcher, check back soon.)

Vietti: Last year, I published an article called “If I had to choose one winery?,” labeling Vietti as the one I would choose. My feelings have not changed. Vietti’s Baroli are some of the most exquisite examples you can acquire. The Rocche is my favorite, and in 2006 it does not disappoint. This is a wine for your cellar.

2006 Vietti Barolo Rocche – The nose showed wild berries, undergrowth and spice with a feminine floral overtone. On the palate, I found rich dark fruits buried in a firm, tight structure of tannin and a lovely, long finish. This wine should be a beauty with a decade or two of cellaring. (95 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher

Castello di Monsanto
Castello di Monsanto continues to show its unending devotion to traditional Chianti. Their Chianti riserva is, year in and year out, one of the best values of the vintage. However, it’s the Il Poggio Riserva that rivals the greatest Sangiovese in Tuscany. Drink this, and you will know what Sangiovese is capable of.

2006 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio – The 2006 Il Poggio was Tuscany personified as aromas of animal musk, spice, wild berries and forest notes wafted up from the glass. On the palate, this wine showed wild red berries and autumnal notes with a mouth-feel of pure silk. The finish was long in sour berry and spice. (94 points) Info: Monsanto website (not yet available on Wine-Searcher, check back soon.)

Pieropan: Soave doesn’t need to just be a simple quaffer that’s easily forgotten, and Pieropan continues to prove that point in spades. These are whites to rival the best from around the world, and they will not break the bank.

2008 Pieropan Soave Classico La Rocca – The nose showed pear, spring flowers, and wet stones. On the palate, it showed a medium, plush body with stone fruits, more floral notes and minerals. A long, refreshing finish added exclamation to an already goergeous expression of Soave. (93 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher

Donnafugata: This is a newcomer to my vocabulary but in no way new to making great wine. Donnafugata shows that Southern Italian wine has truly come into its own.

2007 Donnafugata Contessa Entellina Tancredi – The nose showed crushed wild berries, floral underbrush, licorice and sawmill. On the palate, there was focused red fruits with cedar and herbal fruit tea which filled out every bit of an otherwise tightly-wound performance. The finish was long but airy and fresh. I believe this is highly enjoyable now with a good decant, but it should do even better if left for a year or two in the cellar. (93 points) Info: Donnafugata Website (not yet available on Wine-Searchercheck back soon.)

Paolo Conterno
Paolo Conterno: The more I taste the wines from the Ginestra vineyard, the more I love them; and in 2006, Paolo Conterno has given me another bottle to add to my cellar. The aromatics of this wine thrilled me. As with most Barolo, this bottle will likely shut down for a number of years, but for now it provides an early peak into its bright future.

2006 Paolo Conterno Barolo Ginestra – This wine showed an interesting nose of bergamont, musky animal fur, olive and minerals. On the palate, it was silky yet structured with focused red fruit, leather and earth. The finish was long with wild red berries. (93 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher

Masi: One of my first remarkable Amarone experiences was with a bottle of Costasera Riserva, and this tasting showed that it wasn’t just a one-night stand. This wine was vibrant, rich and dark, but it kept a level of freshness that was exhilarating.

2005 Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva Costasera – The nose showed rich black cherry, spices and tree bark, yet there was something animal about this wine that truly balanced the seductive fruit. On the palate, it was large-scaled and rich with cherry and spice, yet still feminine and graceful. The finish was long yet fresh. (93 points) Info: Masi website (not yet available on Wine-Searchercheck back soon.)

Fattoria di Fèlsina
Fattoria di Fèlsina: After Vietti and Giacomo Conterno, the largest amount of bottles I own from a single winery are from Fattoria di Fèlsina. Why? Consistent quality over decades is the answer. The Fontalloro is certainly more enjoyable now than the Rancia, as is often the case, but these are wines that will also do well in your cellar.

2007 Fattoria di Fèlsina Berardenga Fontalloro – The 2007 Fontalloro showed dark red fruits, leather and red spices on the nose. The palate showed a firm structure with red fruits, coffee and earthy notes. The finish was long with floral berries and wood tones. (92 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher

Nino Negri
Nino Negri: For a completely different expression of Nebbiolo, try the Nino Negri 5 Stelle from Lombardia. It is made in a style similar to Amarone, but there are additional qualities that only Nebbiolo can bring to the table. (An honorable mention must also be made to Mamete Prevostini, another producer of Sforzato, who nearly made this list.)

2007 Nino Negri Valtellina Sfursat 5 Stelle – The nose of the 5 Stelle showed dark forest notes with cherry and spice. On the palate, it revealed a beautiful structure with rich cherry fruit against soil and earth notes. The long finish showed red berries. This is a wine I will buy with the intention of opening in two or three year’s time. (91 points) Info: Nino Negri website (not yet available on Wine-Searchercheck back soon.)

Cascina Corte
Cascina Corte: I am a confessed lover of Dolcetto, and I’m truly convinced that it’s worth international attention. Cascina Corte makes one that truly turned my head. Where some producers have been making Dolcetto too jammy or rich, Cascina Corte instead went for floral, finessed elegance. It’s a beautiful bottle deserving of the name Dolcetto.

2008 Cascina Corte Dolcetto di Dogliani Pirochetta Vecchie Vigne – The nose of the Cascina Corta Dolcetto had a beautiful, elegant floral profile with crushed blackberries and hint of menthol. On the palate, I found rich blackberry with hints of citrus peel. It was beautifully fresh and focused. (90 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher

For all of my notes from Gambero Rosso, Click Here.
Official Website of: Gambero Rosso


  1. Slow Food and Gambero Rosso parted ways last year

  2. Thank you for the update. I'll be sure to update my records.


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