There is no doubt that wine very much resembles music, and genres are defined by styles of wine. If we all get behind that concept, I strongly believe this year’s highly anticipated Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri resembled an Italian falsetto.
Gambero Rosso Magazine is one of the highest authorities in Italian food and wine culture. One of their biggest achievements is the Tre Bicchieri awards. A bicchieri is a glass, and their rating system extends to three bicchieri, the highest mention or reward for Italian produced wine.
As part of a yearly celebration, a multitude of producers caravan through the U.S. in a party like no other, full of producers and representatives of the wineries or importers showcasing their awarded wines and, on occasion, there are a couple more bottles from their lineup.
I’ve had the pleasure of attending this celebration for a decade during which I got to experience the trends in the market, styles of wine and many highly regarded producers rubbing shoulders with up-and-coming stars.
The San Francisco tour stop takes place in March every year and is certainly worth being on the lookout for to attend and experience the magic, energy and orchestration of the event.
Attendees range from fellow media members to retailers, distributors, educators and sommeliers from hundreds of establishments. One of the hardest things is focusing on the tasting portion when so many friends are around.
Anyway, let’s get to this year’s emerging stars and celebrated producers I encountered. Full disclaimer: it is nearly impossible to taste all of the wines, let alone meet all producers available, and there is always a chance of missing your next favorite wine.
Every person attending has their method to the madness, either by region, importer or style of wine. Some people prefer to try all sparkling and white wine first, then move to reds. Whatever your approach is, make sure you are prepared with a spit cup. Faced with tasting more than 100 wines, it is simply not possible to drink them all. Taste and spit!
Some of this year’s top wines, in no specific order, included Northern Italian producers focused on cool climate varietals like Pinot Grigio, Refosco and Ruchè.
In addition, a good number of Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and Friulano made their way into the incredible lineup.
A sprinkle of Chianti Classico and super Tuscan producers accentuated the event with wines like Tenuta di Arceno Arcanum. A voluptuous wine over-delivering in concentration, fruit and character, it certainly stands atop the richest wines in the list.
A thick and pleasant layer of cool climate red wines was a constant in my journey. Alto Adige Refosco from Zorzettig, located in Friuli Venezia Giulia, was full of red roses, lilacs and stern, back-end tannins that linger for days. Also the elegant and submissive 2017 Montalbera Ruchè di Castagnole La Tradizione from Piemonte has been for years one of my personal weaknesses and is one of my favorite wines to share.
Franciacorta played an important roll in this year’s tasting, with producers like 2011 Ferghettina Pas Dosè Riserva exuding with elegance and finesse, creamy and toasty goodness compared to or above even than Champagne.
Restaurateur and wine director at Bistro Don Giovanni, Aaron Diaz said, with excitement, “Great event, showcasing some great Italian wines. Although impossible to taste all, the sparkling and whites I found most interesting. Also the array of woman winemakers there, excellent to see. “La donna e’una forza.”
An interesting observation and sign of the strength that women represent in the wine world.
A number of wine authorities mark their calendars every year to commemorate the event. “There is always something to discover!” said Master Sommelier Sur Lucero from Wine Access. “So many winemakers bring their best efforts to the table. I just recommend getting in early.”
Let’s all raise a glass of our favorite Italian wines!