Back in February I had the opportunity to attend the Tre Bicchieri tasting put on by Gambero Rosso at the Barkar Hangar in Santa Monica. Gambero Rosso is a multimedia brand in the Italian food and wine world that includes: food guides, wine guides, books, a TV channel, a learning academy, and events around the world. The Tre Bicchieri tasting brings together all the highly rated wines that make it into their Vini d’Italia annual guide. The guide is now in its 30th edition. Over 45,000 wines are tasted annually by special committees involving over 70 people. Wines that make the cut in the guide are rated one glass (bicchieri), two glasses (due bicchieri), or three glasses (Tre Bicchieri).
The Grand Tasting showcased over 200 wines of all 3 levels detailed above. I didn’t spend much time there, as I was lucky to receive an invite to the Vini d’Italia Special Awards Masterclass. Here we tasted through 9 wines that were the “best” in their respective categories. Tasting notes are below:
Sparkler of the Year: Ruggeri
Valdobbiadene Extra Dry Giustino B. 2015
A good balance between fruit (citrus, stone fruit, and green fruit) and white flower. Creamy mousse, elegant, fresh, drinkable.
Winery of the Year: Bellavista
Franciacorta Pas Opere 2009
65% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir. WOW. This wine has spent 6 years on the lees, so it is totally my jam. Notes of: citrus, apple, and stone fruit (peach). Also, yellow flower, leesy (yet fresh!), and nutty. Medium + finish.
Grower of the Year: BioVio
Riviera Ligure di Ponente Pigato Bon in da Bon 2015
BioVio has been certified organic since the 80s; they were one of the first. Pigato is a native grape of Liguria. This wine has citrus notes (lemon and grapefruit) and a perfumed elderflower nose. One of the panelists exclaimed that this wine has GPS; it takes you immediately to Liguria. In my opinion this wine would shine with food.
Award for Sustainable Viticulture: Roccafiore
Todi Grechetto Superiore Fiorfiore 2014
2014 was one of the most challenging vintages in Italy in over 20 years, which included summertime rain. This wine has medium – aromatic intensity with yellow apple and a toastiness due to oak treatment. It is full-bodied and round with great structure, is very well integrated, and has an elegant finish.
White of the Year: Tenuta di Tavignano
Verdicchio die Castelli di Jessi Classico Superiore Misco 2015
A textured wine with good body. Notes include: lemon peel, nuts, and a smokiness. Great acid. Would be kick ass with some seafood.
Best Value for Money: Tiberio
This was an interesting wine that I thoroughly enjoyed. On the nose alone, this appeared to be a basic, daily drinker. Notes of citrus (lemon), a slight nuttiness, wet stone, and vegetal, white pepper quality. Has a Sauvignon Blanc-like feeling to it, but the acid is not as high.
Up and Coming Winery: Istine
Chianti Classico LeVigne Riserva 2013
It is hard to find an “up and coming” winery in Italy, because they have all been there so long! On the nose there is red fruit (cherry and strawberry), spice (black pepper and cloves), and floral (violets). The wine is earthy/meaty on the palate and has good acid, as can be expected from a Chianti.
Red of the Year: Chiaromonte
Gioia del Colle Primitivo Muro Sant’Angelo Contrada Barbatto Classico 2013
This is a lovely and interesting wine from Puglia. It has 16.5% ABV but does not feel as that hot. Red/black fruit (sour cherry, blackberry, plum) with some of the fruit feeling stewed (Amarone-like?). The wine also had a mocha/chocolate note as well as meatiness/gaminess (dried meats). Overall, this was the most interesting thing I tasted today. Meaty, perfumed, AND funky on the nose. The palate was smooth, velvety, and mouthfilling.
Sweet of the Year: Lis Neris
Tal Luc Cuvée Speciale
95% Verduzzo, 5% Riesling. For this wine, the grapes are dried passito-style. The wine is honeyed with notes of tropical fruit, chamomile, and spice, including rosemary/garrigue.