Two month ago I attended Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri event in New York city. Writing this blog post late in the game has some advantages – particularly, I can refer you to the work of others. Here is the link to the excellent blog post by Stefano of Flora’s Table and Clicks and Corks fame. Moreover, I had a pleasure of attending the event in Stefano’s company, where his expert knowledge of Italian wines was very helpful in navigating the selection of about 500 creme de la creme wines. Thus you can even compare our notes (I doubt though you will find much discrepancy in our thoughts).
Every year since 1986, Gambero Rosso publishes its guide to Italian wines and awards its prestigious Tre Bicchieri (three glasses) rating to the best wines. The event like the one we attended has the purpose of showcasing all those best wines, and it attracts a lot of attention.
I have to start from the same rant as you can see in Stefano’s post. All the wineries were arranged by the distributors and not by the region – therefore, in presence of 173 wine tables and countless number of people, my well thought plan fell apart. Yes, I understand that distributors are important, but I don’t see why all the wineries couldn’t be pulled together by the region, instead of being all over the place. In terms of overall organization, Vinitaly, which we attended about two weeks before the Tre Bicchieri event, was put together in a lot more logical way.
Leaving that aside, lets talk about the event. I generally attend a good number of trade wine tastings. So when you start going from a table to a table, it takes time to find the wine which will “wow” you. What I didn’t realize at first was that Tre Bicchiery event was different. All the wines which you taste there already had been preselected, they were all winners of the Tre Bicchiery award, and therefore they were all great wines by definition. This was exactly my experience. Table one – wow, this is good. Table two – very good. Table three – excellent! Table four – excellent again – what is happening? How is that possible? Ahh, it is the Tre Bicchiere event, so all the wines are rather expected to be great…
Another important part of the events such as Tre Bicchieri is opportunity to meet a lot of great people there. For instance, we met Giuseppe Vajra, a winemaker at G.D Vajra in Piedmonte, who was a pleasure to talk to.
He gave us a taste of his 2004 Barolo Cerretta Luigi Baudana, which he was not supposed to do at the event ( this wine was not a part of 2013 Tre Bicchieri awards), and the wine was stunning.
Meeting people is great, navigating the crowds – not so much. Here is a “hail Mary” style picture – you raise your arm with the camera as high as you can, at the angle you think will fit, and then release the shutter. Here are few pictures for you, I think it gives you an idea that the event was quite busy:
Another problem with the event like this? You destined to miss on some of the wines. Taking into account gross level of disorganization at the event, it is obvious that you will miss on the best wines. The list of the wines we missed includes Masseto, Ornellaia, Sassicaia, Oreno, Bertani and more…
The real bummer in this group was Masseto, which is a part of my “Must Try Wines ” list – it is Super Tuscan made out of 100% Merlot – this is the wine which can rival Petrus. Well, may be next year…
Now, let me offer you my highlights from the event. In the format of such an event, it is impossible (for me, at least) to take any detailed notes – I’m trying to experience as many wines as possible, only jotting down a single word descriptors at the best, which often don’t go beyond “wow” or “outstanding”. Below is the list of wines I really liked (a lot, huh?), with may be one word descriptors on them (or may be not), and then I offer to your attention a picture gallery of mostly the same wines. Oh yes – and unlike the Gambero Rosso event itself, the wines below are grouped by the region. Remember I recently suggested a new scale of ratings (yuck, ok, nice, wow, OMG) – let me use it here when possible, and I promise not to bring any “yuck” and “ok” wines to your attention. And one last note – not all the wines below have “three glasses” rating – some of them are rated at 2, but I believe they would still worth your attention. Here we go.
2009 Torre dei Beati Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Cocciapazza – perfect!
2011 Abbazia di Novacella Alto Adige Valle Isarco Sylvaner Praepositus – outstanding bouquet on the nose, very nice overall
2009 Cantina Tarlano Alto Adige Pinot Blanco Vorberg Riserva – complex, beautiful, perfect minerality, wow!
2010 Nanni Cope Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco Terre del Volturno – nice acidity, very good overall. Added bonus – this wine has two rare grapes which I need to add to my grape count – Palagrello and Casavecchia
2010 Marisa Cuomo Casta di Amalfi Furore Bianco Fiorduva – my descriptors for this wine include “beautiful”, “amazing” and “balanced” – definitely a wow! wine. This is a very unique wine in many ways (outside of the fact that it is made out of three rare grapes Ginestra, Fenile and Ripoli) – I need to refer you to the Stefano’s blog post where you can learn more about this fascinating wine.
FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA
2010 Livon Collio Friulano Manditocai – complex nose, nice palate
2011 Ronco dei Tassi Collio Malvasia – nice minerality, very good overall
2011 La Tunella COF Ribolla Gialla Rjgialla – perfect white fruit, clean, excellent
2011 Livio Felluga Friulano – super expressive wine, very good overall
2010 Sergio Mottura Grechetto Latour a Civitella – excellent
2011 Cantine Lunae Bosoni Colli di Luni Vermentino Cavagnino – mint and apricot on the nose and palate, OMG
2009 Mamete Prevostini Valtellina Superiore Riserva – very unusual nose, perfect power.
2004 Ca’Del Bosco Franciacorta Brut Rose Cuvee Annamaria Clementi – 100% Pinot Noir, nose of fresh bread and yeast, strawberries on the palate – OMG
2007 Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Extra Brut – perfect
NV Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Brut Rose – more complexity than the previous one, OMG
2006 Ferghettina Franciacorta Extra Brut – 80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir; wow!
2007 Cavalleri Franciacorta Pas Rose – very bread-y, excellent!
2008 Guido Berlucchi Franciacorta Cellarius Brut – wow!
2010 Umani Ronchi Verdicchio dei Cazstelli di Jesi Classico Superiore Vecchie Vigne – wow!
2009 Umani Ronchi Conero Cumaro Riserva – excellent!
2009 Velenosi Rosso Piceno Superiore Roggio del Filare – roasted, gamey nose, a touch too sweet, but good
2009 Bricco del Cucu Dogliani Bricco S. Bernardo – 100% Grechetto, cherries on the nose and palate, very nice!
2008 Le Piane Boca – a blend of 85% Barolo, 15% Vespolina – wow!
2008 G.D Vajra Barolo Ceretta Luigi Baudana – this wine comes from the a specific plot in the vineyard, called Baudana. This was a wow wine, but the next one was one level up, as it had an age on it
2004 G.D Vajra Barolo Ceretta Luigi Baudana – OMG
2008 Schiavenza Barolo Prapo – perfect fruit, open, beautiful, wow!
2009 Vietty Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza La Crena – excellent
2006 Massolino Barolo Villa Rionda Riserva – wow!
2010 Villa Sparina Gavi del Commune di Gavi Monterotondo – very nice
2008 Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Sarmassa – nice, round, perfect!
2006 Elvio Cogno Barolo Vigna Elena Riserva – excellent!
2009 Cantina di Santandi Carignano del Sulcis Superiore Rocca Rubia Riserva - aged for 24 month in oak, excellent.
2009 6Mura Carignano del Sulcis – 120 years old vines, growing on sandy soils, very good balance, excellent.
2010 Pietradolce Etna Rosso Archineri – very green
2010 Pietradolce Vigna Barbagalli – nice
2010 Donnafugata Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria – the only wine in Italy to receive top awards from all wine publications! Apricots on the nose and palate, perfectly balanced. Overall – wow and OMG!
2010 Tenute Rapitala Conte Hugues Bernard de la Gatinais Grand Cru – 100% Chardonnay, excellent, clean
2010 Firriato Ribeca Perricone – excellent! ( and the rare grape called Perricone)
2006 Ferrari Trento Extra Brut Perle Nero – outstanding, off brut
2002 Ferrari Trento Brut Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore – 10 years aging on the lees, wow!
2008 Famiglia Cecchi Chianti Classico Villa Cerna Riserva – very nice
2009 Famiglia Cecchi Coevo – wow!
2009 Tolani Picconero – 65% Merlot, perfectly Bordeaux in style, excellent!
2007 Poggio di Sotto Brunello di Montalcino – open, fresh, clean – wow!
2009 Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – tannins! very good.
2009 Brancaia Chianti Classico Riserva – perfect balance, wow!
2010 Tenuta San Guido Montessu Isola dei Nuraghi – excellent!
2009 Tenuta Sette Ponti Orma Toscana – OMG! depth and breadth of this wine was phenomenal
2010 Marchesi Antinori Cervaro della Sala – perfect chardonnay, outstanding!
2010 Ottello Lugana Supweriore Molceo – parfumy, perfect!
2010 Ottello Campo Sireso – a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Corvina and Lagrein – roasted notes, wow!
2009 Roccolo Grassi Valpolicella Superiore Roccolo Grassi -very nice
2007 Vignalta Colli Euganei Rosso Gemola – Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend, classic Bordeaux profile, wow!
2005 Cantina Valpolicalla Negrar Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Villa Domini Veneti – pure chocolate on the nose, a bit too sweet and too tannic on the palate. Just ok (I know, I promised that there will be no ok or lesser wines – but I’m Amarone junkie, you will have to excuse me for that…)
2007 Tedeschi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Capitel Monte Olmi – 16% ABV, alcohol on the nose – not “yack”, but not good [at all]
2008 Tedeschi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico – very good
2006 Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Mazzano – 120 days of drying the grapes, good overall (not great), too much alcohol on the nose and palate
2008 Viticoltori Speri Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Monte Sant’Urbano – 15% ABV; wow!
And here is the photo gallery for you – enjoy!
Long post, after a long delay – but it is finally done. Yay! Cheers!
As you probably know, I’m an enthusiastic member of the Wine Century Club – a virtual club dedicated to the grape adventures. I already talked too many times about virtues of the Wine Century Club, thus I’m not going to bore you with those details again. Instead, let me focus on only one, dare I say it, sacred bottle of wine – 2005 Giribaldi Cento Uve Langhe DOC.
What makes this wine “sacred”? It is made out of 50% Nebbiolo and the other 50% containing additional 151 (!) varieties, so it can really help you to advance in the quest for higher levels of The Wine Century Club membership (except that it doesn’t count towards the first level of membership with 100 varieties). The wine is almost impossible to find in US – except one wine shop in Colorado which actually carries it (if you are interested, the wine is available from The Vineyard Wine Shop, 303-355-8324). When I called the store to order this wine, gentleman who answered the phone, Matt, said that he is quite convinced that they don’t have any wine under such name – after checking his computer, he was surprised more than me by actually finding it. At $60 + $20 for the shipping, this was definitely worth the experience.
Interestingly enough, finding this wine and drinking it was the easiest part – the tough (seriously tough) part was figuring out what grapes I already tasted and what grapes I can actually add to my list. As this is one of the coolest parts of Wine Century Club membership ( figuring out what is what in the grape world), let me explain it with appropriate level of details.
To begin with, the web site for this wine states that it contains 152 varieties. The list of grapes is nowhere to be found on the winemaker’s web site. The only place on internet where you can find the list is at the Indian Wine Academy. Well, list is a list, you say, right? Yes, but not precisely. As I need to properly account for all the grapes I already tasted, I need to go through that list very carefully, line by line. As soon as I started going through the list, I noticed duplications (same grapes listed twice, like Gamay, for instance) – I called it a red flag and decided that the right thing to do is to contact Giribaldi, the winemaker. After 2 or 3 of my e-mails went unanswered, I decided that it is a time to … get an audience support? No, call a friend! And as I happened to have a good friend in Italy, Corrado, I asked him to help me to get to the correct list. This was not easy, but after a few conversations with the winery, he was able to get full description of the wine, including the list of grapes.
Yay? Nope. The list of grapes was … identical to the one published on the site of the Indian Wine Academy! Fine. From here on, I had to figure it out myself. I converted the list to the Excel file, and sorted it alphabetically. Then I had to figure out how to get from 156 varieties listed to the 152 which we know this wine has. It later downed on me that 156 varieties include Nebbiolo and 4 Nebbiolo clones , therefore if we will take all 5 Nebbiolo varieties from consideration we will get to the target number of 151. Whew. Tired of me yet? No? Let’s continue.
Next step was to remove obvious duplicates, then go through the list again. For every grape I didn’t know, I used Internet resources to verify that such a grape exists (i.e., referenced at least once on one or more sites). Here is the good list of references in case you ever need to conduct a search on grape etymology (Italian grapes, if you will):
After all the cleanup, removing duplicates, fixing the spelling and checking the references, I got to the final list of 138 grapes (don’t ask me where the 14 went – let’s keep it a grape mystery), out of which I was unable to find any references for the grape called Michele Pagliari – therefore I’m keeping it on the list, but not counting towards the new grapes. In case you want to see a transition here is an excel file for you – note that is has multiple spreadsheets inside starting from full list. Here is the list of those final 138 grapes.
Legend: letter N next to the grape stands for Nero (red), B is for Bianche (white), Rs is for Rose. Showing in Bold are the grapes which I count as new grapes for my grape count.
|Aglianico N||Michele Pagliari N|
|Albarola N||Montepulciano N|
|Albarossa N||Moscato bianco B|
|Aleatico N.||Moscato giallo B|
|Alicante Bouschet N||Moscato nero di Acqui N|
|Ancellotta N.||Moscato Rosa Rs|
|Arneis B||Muller Thurgau B|
|Avanà N||Nascetta B|
|Avarengo N||Nebbiolo N.|
|Baco Nero N||Nebbiolo ( Bolla) N|
|Barbera bianca B.||Nebbiolo ( Rosè) N|
|Barbera N.||Nebbiolo (Lampia) N|
|Becuet N.||Nebbiolo (Michet)N|
|Bianchetta Tevigiano B||Negrette N|
|Bianchetta Veronese B||Neretta cuneese N.|
|Bombino Bianco B||Neretto di Bairo N|
|Bombino Nero N||Nero Buono N|
|Bonarda Piemontese N||Nero d’Ala N|
|Bosco Nero N||Nero d’Avola N|
|Brachetto N.||Neyret N|
|Bracciola N||Pampanuto N|
|Brunello N||Pecorino N|
|Bussanello B||Pelaverga (di Pagno) N|
|Cabernet Franc N||Pelaverga N|
|Cabernet Sauvignon N||Pelaverga piccolo N|
|Canaiolo B.||Petit Arvine N|
|Canina N||Petit Verdot N|
|Cannonau N||Pigato B|
|Carica l’Asino N||Pignola Nera N|
|Carignano N||Pinot bianco B|
|Catarratto comune B||Pinot Grigio G|
|Catarratto Nero N||Pinot Nero N|
|Chardonnay B.||Plassa N|
|Chatus N||Pollera 1 N|
|Ciliegiolo N.||Portugieser N|
|Colorino Nero N||Primitivo N|
|Cornarea N||Quagliano N|
|Cortese B||Raboso Veronese N|
|Corvina Nera N||Rebo Nero N|
|Croatina N||Refosco da Peduncolo Rosso N|
|Crovassa N||Riesling B|
|Dolcetto N||Riesling italico B|
|Doux d’Henry N||Riesling Renano B|
|Durasa N||Rossese bianco B|
|Durasca (Dolcetto di Boca) N||Rossese N|
|Enantio N||Ruché N|
|Erbaluce B||Sangiovese N|
|Favorita B||Sauvignon Blanc B|
|Franconia N (Blaufränkisch)||Schiava Gentile N|
|Freisa di Chieri N||Schiava grossa N|
|Freisa di Nizza N||Schiava N|
|Gamay N.||Sylvaner Verde B|
|Gargiulo N||Syrah N|
|Grechetto N||Teroldego Nero N|
|Grignolino N||Timorasso B|
|Grillo B||Tocai Friulano B|
|Incrocio Manzoni N||Tocai Rosso N|
|Lambrusca di Alessandria N||Torbato B|
|Lambrusco Maestri N||Traminer aromatico Rs|
|Lumassina N||Trebbiano Toscano B|
|Maiolica N||Uva di Troia N|
|Malvasia di Casorzo N||Uva rara N|
|Malvasia di Schierano N||Uvalino N|
|Malvasia Istriana N||Veltlimer Fruhrot N|
|Malvasia nera lunga N||Verduzzo Trevigiano B|
|Manzoni bianco B||Vermentino B|
|Marzemino N||Vespolina N|
|Merlot N||Zweigelt N|
Let’s start from the usual routine – the answer for the Wine Quiz #21 – Do you Know the King? Similar to the previous quiz, this one also had a diversity of opinion as to which wine is called a “King of the Wines”. And the answer is … Barolo!
Believe it or not, but until the middle of the 19th century Barolo was a sweet wine (it probably sounds funny for anyone who experienced the power of Barolo) due to the deficiencies of the winemaking process. In the second half of the 19th century, invited French oenologist managed to change the winemaking process which resulted in production of completely dry wine. This dry Barolo wine became so popular among nobility of Turin that it was often described as “the king of wine” (here is a link for you with more information on the subject). Now that you know the king, you can enjoy Barolo even more (but don’t forget to decant it!).
Now it is time for the wine news. Let’s start form the Wine Blogging Wednesday #79 – Summer Reading, Summer Wine. This is probably one of the more difficult WBW events, as you are required not to drink the wine yourself, but rather explain to the world what kind of wine your favorite fiction character should be drinking, and why. I’m still not decided if I will will be writing my blog post for #wbw79 – may be yes, may be no – but I’m sure it will be fun to read what the other people will have to say.
Now, all the wine lovers who like value – please pay special attention. Wine Till Sold Out (a.k.a. WTSO) Cheapskate Wednesday is coming up on August 8th. Starting at 6 am Eastern, deeply discounted wines will be offered for sale every 15 minutes or may be even faster. All the wines will be priced in the range of $7.99 to $18.99 and you will have to buy 4 bottles or more to get free shipping. These “marathon” events are usually offering great values and shouldn’t be missed – here are couple of reports (one and two) I compiled from the past events in case you want to have a frame of reference. Get your cellar ready!
Moving along. Next, I want to bring to your attention two more interesting posts. First, W. Blake Gray wrote about the results of market research of consumers’ emotional attachment to the brand (of course primarily concerning alcohol brands). This is pretty short post (here is the link) – read it, some of the results are staggering and hilarious at the same time.
Last but not least: if you love wine and live in a close proximity of Boston (remember, airplanes are known to greatly shorten the distances), there is a restaurant you must visit until the end of August. Why? Because this restaurant (Troquet) is offering mind boggling dealson superbly aged wines (1966 Bordeaux for $75? unreal…) – for more details, please read this post by Richard Auffrey who writes The Passionate Foodie blog.
That’s all for today, folks. Hope you enjoyed this Meritage, and don’t worry – the next Wednesday will be here much sooner than you are expecting, so we will be talking again. And… don’t forget to leave a comment. And – think about your #WBW79 post. Cheers!
If you had been drinking wine for a while, I would expect that you have developed certain taste expectations. As you drink the wines from the different regions, you find that the wines from the same geographic locality made from the same grapes would have somewhat of a similar taste and style (yes, of course, I just described what is properly called Terroir without using the word itself). At some point, the associations between the origin of the wine and its expected taste become engrained in your mind. Looking at the bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, you are expecting to find bright acidity and citrus flavor profile even without opening the bottle. Looking at the bottle of California Cabernet Sauvignon you are expecting to find good amount of fruit with some explicit black currant notes and probably good amount of tannins – note that I’m really trying to generalize here, but you got the point.
This is the way the wine was for a very long time. However, when you taste modern wines, do you have a feeling that your expectations no longer valid and don’t match the reality any longer? I had this experience many times lately, when Amarone didn’t taste like anything expected (you can find my rant of pain here), or when unoaked Chardonnay tastes rather like Pinot Grigio – and there are many more examples of “taste confusion”.
Recently, I had another case of “broken” taste expectations – this time it was somewhat sanctioned, as we did a double (almost) blind tasting. The theme was set a bit ambitiously, as France and Italy. The “ambitious” part is coming from the fact that these two countries on their own have such a variety of wine production that it makes literally impossible to recognize the grape or at least the style of wine (either one of those countries would provide a plentiful selection for a double blind tasting on its own). Anyway, with the main goal of having fun with the wines, we actually had a great time.
We blind tasted 5 wines, which happened to be 4 reds and one white. For what it worth, here are my notes as we were moving along:
#1 – Very nice, a bit too sweet. I think Italy, Super Tuscan/Barbera/Dolcetto
#2 – earthy, nice, little green bell peppers, roasted notes? Bordeaux?
#3 – France, nice bright fruit, good sweetness, noit enough acidity? No idea about the grape.
#4 – interesting, lots of fruit, very nice – no idea.
#5 – great, round, good fruit – no idea.
While I understand that these a rather limited wine descriptions, would you try to guess what was what? Well, you can see the answers below in the picture (wines are set in the order we tasted them, left to right):
Here is an actual list: 2007 Comm. G. B. Burlotto Barolo Verduno; 1995, Chateau Haut-Corbin Saint-Emillion Grand Cru; 2009 Petracupa Greco di Tufo; 2005 Pascal Marchand Pinot Noir and L’oca Ciuca Brunello di Montalcino DOCG – now compare that with my guesses above…
In case you are curious – of course we voted for the favorite – Brunello (#5) was a clear winner, with Greco de Tufo (#3) trailing it closely behind (one point difference).
Where is the case of broken taste expectations? Fruit forward, bright and loaded wine with well masked tannins and almost non-existing earthiness, bright purple in color – 2007 Barolo? I’m very far from Barolo expert, but this doesn’t match my expectations of Barolo, albeit well decanted. Even winning Brunello was quite uncharacteristic, lacking earthiness and tartness, the traditional Brunello bite. I can’t comment on Greco do Tufo (it was actually quite nice), and the only varietally correct wine was 1995 Bordeaux. Am I making too big of a deal from varietal correctness and taste expectations here? It depends. On its own, both Barolo and Brunello were good wines, but if I would order either one in the restaurant with the goal of pairing with food, that could’ve been quite disappointing…
Okay, I can’t leave you with this sad impression of disappointment – it was not that bad at all. Also, we had a great cast of supporting wines, even with some pleasant surprises.
First, two sparkling wines. Chevalier de Grenelle Cuvee Reserve Saumur AOC, a blend of 90% Chenin Blanc with 10% Chardonnay was very good, full bodies sparkling wine, with good notes of apple and toasted oak. In addition to good wine, this was also a very special bottle – a magnum with metal imprinted label. Second sparkling wine was even more unusual – Abrau-Durso Semi-Dry – a sparkling wine from Russia, made by reincarnated famous producer of sparkling wines for Russian Tzar (original company was created in 1870). This wine had just a hint (a whiff) of sweetness, lightly toasted apple and nutmeg on the palate. Very refreshing and delicate. I suggest you will find a bottle and try for yourself – there is a good chance you might like it.
And for the last surprise – 2002 Fontanafredda Barolo DOCG. Why surprising? If you will look at the Wine Spectator’s Vintage Chart, you will see that 2002 was regarded as a very bad year for Barolo, with the rating of 72 and recommendation of wines being past prime. I decanted this bottle at some time in the late morning, and by the early evening, when we actually drunk it, it opened up very nicely – while it was lacking powerful tannins, otherwise it was quite enjoyable wine, very balanced with quite a bit of finesse.
Play with your wine, get friends together and do the blind tasting – I guarantee you will learn something new about your palate, your wine preferences and may be even your friends!