Posts Tagged ‘gambero rosso’

Gambero Rosso 2016: Tre Bicchieri Tasting

March 21, 2016 12 comments

Gamber Rosso 30 yearsNow, let’s talk about most intense part of the Gambero Rosso 2016 event – Tre Bicchieri grand tasting. Both Custoza DOC and Special Awards Master Class seminars were nice and relaxing – you are sitting down, you have at least an hour to evaluate 9 wines – this is “an oenophile at ease” experience. The grand tasting though is more of an “oenophile in hell”, or if this is too strong of an expression, think of it as marathon which you have to run on the tippy-toes – yep, that level of comfort.

Let me repeat the Gambero Rosso numbers – about 50,000 wines are evaluated by the Gambero Rosso staff in a year, comprise 20,000 different labels from more than 2,400 wineries. 421 wines received the coveted Tre Bicchieri (Three Glasses) award in 2016. 193 wineries were present at Tre Bicchieri 2016 tasting in New York, which would roughly translate into about 400 wines – not all of those wines are Tre Bicchieri winners, wineries are allowed to present the wines which got two glasses awards.

This was the fourth year in the row as I attended Gambero Rosso in New York, so at this point I knew the drill – which means that there will be no rant in this post. Nothing changed – there was still a limit of one glass per attendee for the whole tasting, the wineries were still organized by the distributors and not by the regions – but again, I was ready for that before I walked into the room. I had an opportunity to look at the show guide before tasting started, so I had my targets set and thus from the moment I walked into the tasting room, I went directly to the tables I wanted to visit first (where the wines would potentially run out). This was the right strategy and it worked quite well (as you will see in the list down below).

This was also the first time in 4 years my dear friend Stefano was unable to join me at the Gambero Rosso in New York – which also changed the dynamics for me. Usually when we are together, Stefano perseveres until the very last moment, still tasting wines and taking notes. Left to my own devices, I cut it short when I felt tired. By the way, the pictures below will give you an idea how the tasting room looks like in a middle of event – I always like to take a few shots which I call “Hail Mary” – just put the camera up and take a picture of whatever it will point to. I think it will give you an idea for the event:

Gambero Rosso 2016 Tasting Crowd

Gambero Rosso 2016 Tasting Crowd 1Before I will inundate you with the details on the wines I tasted, I want to offer you some of my main takeaways from the Tre Bicchieri 2016 tasting.

  1. Out of all the wines I tasted (90+), 4 wines were my absolute favorite:
    • Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia – stunning wine – young (2012), but perfectly drinkable, with the balance nothing short of amazing. Down below I will have pictures of the labels – note that starting with 2012 vintage, Ornellaia wines now will have artistic labels on portion of their bottles – 1 bottle in every 6 pack will have an artistic label.
    • Eugenio Collavini Collio Bianco Broy – my favorite white wine of the tasting – beautiful clarity, impeccable balance and a bonus story
    • Tenuta Viglione Gioia del Colle Primitivo Marpione Riserva – yes, I know that Primitivo is technically a Zinfandel, but I never yet tasted Primitivo which would be reminiscent of a good Zinfandel, like Turley, for instance. This wine was – fresh fruit, ripe raspberries and blackberries, playful – just an excellent wine all together.
    • Rosset Terroir Valle d’Aosta Syrah – might be easily my favorite red wine in the tasting – if anything very comparable with Ornellaia in its ability to deliver pleasure. Amazing clarity of spicy fruit, just a pure vibrant note of black pepper – only a few times ever I experienced such pure expression of Syrah. Absolutely delightful.
  2. Very interesting how things changed in Italian wines. I tasted a number of Barolo, 4-6 years old – they were all very approachable, with good fruit and reasonable tannins – quite a departure even from the few years back. On another hand, most of the Super Tuscans were tannic bombs, with the happy exception of Ornellaia and Le Macchiole. I definitely welcome the Barolo change (will be interesting to see how those wines will age), but I think super Tuscan producers should dial down the use of the new oak – as they are, these wines need quite a bit of time to age.
  3. Italy is the #1 wine producer in the world (by volume) so it is not surprising that in addition to the ingenious grapes, such as Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Montepulciano, Italians also mastered all the main international varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Grenache ( better known as Connonau), Zinfandel (yes, in the form of their native Primitivo) and now even Syrah. 3-4 years ago, I would never associate Italy with the world-class Syrah. But then was Syrah from Cartona, which is delicious, and this year’s discovery, Rosset Terroir Syrah from Valle d’Aosta, left me literally speechless in its purity of expression – and I loved it as much as I did the Ornellaia. So yes, Syrah is also squarely on the master list for Italy. Notable exception – Pinot Noir (should be called Pinot Nero in Italy), the finicky grape the world is in love with, which I yet to find to my liking coming from Italy. This will probably happen at some point, and if it does, I’m curious where and how.

Okay, now it is time to share the notes on my favorite wines. I visited about 45 tables, tasted about 90 wines. Below are the favorites – as typical for the trade tastings with lots of wines to evaluate, I use the “plus” system, where “+++” means “excellent wine”. The list below only includes “+++” or higher; I couldn’t contain my excitement and rated “++++1/2” both Ornellaia and Rosset Syrah, this is as high as I ever went. For what it worth, below are my brief tasting notes, all the wines are sorted by respective regions:

2012 Villa Medoro Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colloie Teramene Adrano – +++1/2, delicious

Alto Adige:
2013 Abbazia di Novacela A.A. Valle Isarco Riesling Praepositus – ++++, clean, balanced
2014 Abbazia di Novacela A.A. Valle Isarco Kerner Praepositus – ++++, delicious!

2011 Elena Walch A.A. Lagrein Castel Ringberg Riserva – +++1/2, excellent, concentrated

2012 Cantina Terlano A.A. Terlano Nova Dominus Riserva – ++++, delicious! 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Blanc, 10% Sauvignon

2010 Re Manfredi Terre Degli Svevi Aglianico del Vulture Serpara – +++1/2, perfect, nice minerality

Friuli Venezia Giulia:
2013 Jermann Vintage Tunina – +++1/2, great complexity
2013 Jermann W…. Dreams…. – ++++, butter, vanilla, beautiful minerality
2014 Jermann Pinot Grigio – +++

2014 Eugenio Collavini Collio Bianco Broy – ++++, clean, beautiful, 50% Friulano, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Sauvignon, SRP $35, comes from the small small plot behind the house

2013 Livon Braide Alte – +++1/2, Chardonnay, Picolit, Moscato Gialo

2013 Poggio dei Gorgleri Rivera Ligure di Ponente Pigato Albium – +++1/2, Gunflint nose, clean palate

2009 Ferghettina Franciacorta Extra Brut – +++, beautiful nose, a bit too sweet on the palate
2011 Nino Negri Valtellina Sfursat 5 Stelle  – +++1/2, dried fruit, delicate, delicious. 2012 and 2014 were bad years, and no 5 Stelle wine will be produced
2008 Bellavista Franciacorta Extra Brut Vittorio Moretti Riserva – ++++, delicious, classic

2013 Umani Ronchi Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Superiore Vecchie Vigne – +++
2011 Umani Ronchi Canero Cùmaro Riesrva DOCG – +++1/2, delicious (Montepulciano 100%)
2011 Umani Ronchi Pelago Marche Rosso IGT – +++1/2, excellent (Cabernet Sauvignon 50%, Montepulciano 40%, Merlot 10%)

2010 Abbona Barolo Cerviano – +++1/2, lavender, clean, wow!
2011 Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Cannubi – ++++, beautiful

2012 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti Superoiore Nizza La Court – ++++, outstanding

2011 Malvira Roero Mombeltramo Riserva – +++, nice, clean

2011 Tenuta Viglione Gioia del Colle Primitivo Marpione Riserva – +++1/2, wow, excellent, Zinfandel-comparable
2012 Tenuta Viglione Gioia del Colle Pri-mit-ivo – +++, excellent fruit and balance

2013 Vigne Surrau Sincaru Cannonau di Sardegna – +++, excellent
2014 Vigne Surrau Sciala Vermentino di Gallura DOCG Superiore – +++

2012 Poggio al Tesoro Dedicato a Walter Toscana IGT – +++, 100% Cabernet Franc
2012 Poggio al Tesoro Sondraia Bolgheri Superiore – ++++, excellent, Bordeaux blend (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc

2012 Fabrizio Dionisio Cortona Syrah Il Castagno – +++1/2, beautiful nose, restrained, 100% Syrah

2012 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia – ++++1/2, wow! polished, ready
2013 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Bolgheri Rosso Le Serre Nuove – ++++
2013 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Poggio alle Gazze – ++++, outstanding

2010 Le Chiuse Brunello di Montalcino – +++1/2
2011 Le Chiuse Brunello di Montalcino – +++, beautiful
2013 Le Chiuse Rosso di Montalcino – +++, clean, simple

2012 Villa le Corti Chianti Classico Don Tommaso Gran Selezione – +++, excellent, soft

2012 Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno – +++1/2, gripping tannins, wow
2013 Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo – +++

2012 PETRA Petra Rosso – +++1/2, good balance, Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot blend

2012 Le Macchiole Paleo Rosso – ++++, outstanding, 100% Cabernet Franc

Valle d’Aosta:
2013 Rosset Terroir Valle d’Aosta Syrah – ++++1/2, wow, perfect, spicy nose, clean, wow! 100% Syrah

2011 Tenuta Sant’ Antonio Amarone della Valpolicella Campo di Gigle – +++, closed on the nose, well present tannins, but balanced
2011 Viticoltori Speri Amarone della valpolicella Classico Vign Sant’Urbano – +++, good, round
2009 Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Campolongo di Torbe – ++++, delicious!!! (yeah – single vineyard at about $150 retail)

2014 Valdobbiadene Brut Rive di Col San Martino Cuvée del Fondatore Graziano Merotto – +++1/2, nice complexity

2012 Vignalta Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio Passito Alpianae – +++


Gambero Rosso 2016: Master Class – Special Awards

March 9, 2016 6 comments

I recently wrote about discovering the new Italian wine region at the seminar at Gambero Rosso 2016 event (Custoza DOC). Following that was another new event for me – Vini d’Italia 2016 Special Awards Master Class.

More than 50,000 wines are tasted by the Gambero Rosso experts for each annual edition of the publication, which comprise more than 20,000 labels from 2,400+ wineries. In 2016, which was the 29th edition of the Gambero Rosso guide, there were 421 winners of the prestigious Tre Bicchieri status. In parallel, while the work is done to assess the wines for the Tre Bicchieri status, the wines are also considered for the Special Awards which are give in the 9 special categories – take a look at the picture below, this was our printout for taking the notes:

Vini d'Italia Special Awards

If you would look at my notes below, you would see that my opinion didn’t always match the designation of the wine – which is only important as an illustration to the point I always make when talking to the people who are afraid not to like the wine where someone else (an expert) said that the wine outstanding. Each palate is different, and your good wine is what you like, not someone else…

The presentation was led by charismatic Marco Sabellico,  Senior Editor of Gambero Rosso, and Eleonora Guerini, Curator of the guide “The Wines of Italy” by Gambero Rosso:

Marco Sabellico Senior Editor Gambero Rosso, Eleonora Guerini, Curator of the guide "The Wines of Italy" by Gambero Rosso

Here are my notes:

Category: Sparkler of the year
2006 Ca Del Bosco Franciacorta Dosage Zéro Noir Vintage Collection Riserva 
C: Gold
N: yeast, bread, concentrated
P: great complexity, yeasty, refreshing, crisp acidity
V: 8, excellent sparkling wine

Category: Best value for money
2014 Terre Stregate Falanghina del Sannio Svelato Campania ($10)
C: light golden
N: beautiful concentrated nose, sweet, concentrated, musk aroma
P: clean, good acidity, lots of musk undertones, spicy pear
V: 7, a bit too much on the palate

Category: White of the year
2014 Schiopetto Collio Friulano
C: light golden
N: light fruit notes, fresh, touch of minerality
P: nice, restrained, white stone fruit, good acidity, good balance
V: 8-, nice aging potential

Category: Award for sustainable viticulture
2013 Manincor A.A. Terlano Sauvignon Tannenberg Trentino-Alto Adige
C: straw pale
N: vanilla, butter, petrol
P: delicious play of fruit, restrained, tropical fruit, vanilla, playful, great acidity
V: 8, my favorite white wine of the tasting

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Category: Red of the year
2012 Pietradolce Etna Rosso Vigna Barbagalli Sicily (15% ABV)
C: red brick
N: volcanic, smoke, red fruit
P: nice tannins, fresh red fruit, a bit astringent, long finish
V: 8, needs time

Category: Grower of the year
2012 Ca’ del Baio Barbaresco Asili 
C: dark Ruby
N: fresh fruit! Strawberries, raspberries, violet, wow
P: excellent balance, fresh tannins, good red fruit, but really tannic finish
V: 8, will improve

Category: Up-and-coming winery
2012 Guado al Melo Bolghery Rosso Superiore Atis (Cabernet Sauvignon 60%, Cabernet Franc 20%, Merlot 20%)
C: dark Ruby, almost black
N: “Rutherford dust”, black currants, eucalyptus
P: powerful tannins, firm structure, fruit is layered under, very powerful wine overall
V: 8-, definitely needs time

Category: Winery of the year
2011 Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
C: dark Ruby, almost black
N: dried fruit, roasted meat
P: nice concentration, powerful tannins, tar, tobacco, alcohol burn on back end
V: 7+, needs more balance…

La Crotta di Vegneron Valle d’Aosta Chambave Moscato Passito Prieuré

Category: Sweet of the year
2013 La Crotta di Vegneron Valle d’Aosta Chambave Moscato Passito Prieuré
C: golden
N: beautiful, clean, candied apricots, candied orange
P: perfect balance, clean fruit. Yes, it is sweet, but it has perfect acidic backbone, and it doesn’t overpower the palate.
V: 9, outstanding. Yes, I’m a sucker for the good sweet wines, you can call me that.

As you can tell, the dessert wine was my favorite wine of the tasting – well, you can read anything you want into that…

In the next post, I will be talking about Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri tasting itself, so until the next time – cheers!

To be continued…

Gambero Rosso 2016: Discovering Italian Wine Regions – Custoza DOC

February 21, 2016 9 comments

Few weeks ago, I attended Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri event in New York. For those unfamiliar, Gambero Rosso is a leading Italian wine guide, where the wines are rated with the symbol of a glass (bicchiere in Italian). The wine can get a rating of one, two or three glasses, and those three glasses (Tre Bicchieri) rated wines considered to be some of the best wines the Italy has to offer. Every year, Gambero Rosso conducts a series of tastings worldwide, to celebrate these best Italian wines, and the tastings are called Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri events.

Custoza DOC tasting

While I had been attending Tre Bicchieri events for the past 4 years, this year was the first time I also attended seminars conducted right before the general tasting. The first seminar was dedicated to the white wines of a small, and I would bet, largely unknown to the majority of the wine drinkers, region in Veneto, called Custoza.

Custoza is located at the south border of the Veneto region, on the shore of the Lake Garda. Excellent terroir to grow wine grapes, and white grapes in particular. Region has mild winters, which definitely helps not to worry about the frost. Another important characteristic of Custoza is mixed soil – clay, sandstone, limestone, which leads to a diversity in the wines. Overall, there are about 700 wine growers in Custoza, 70 wineries, and total wine production is roughly 12 million bottles per year (1 million cases). The region is fast growing on Italian market and represents great value for the money. A number of indigenous grape varieties are use in wine making in Custoza – Garganega, Fernanda/Bianca Fernanda (Cortese clone), Trebbiano di Soave, Trebbianello (known as Tokai Friulano in other regions), Riesling Italico (a.k.a. Welch Riesling), Incrocio Manzoni (cross created in 20th century).

Seminar presenters also made a statement about Custoza wines having a great aging potential – I would like to get back to that after presenting you with the tasting notes. We tasted total of 8 wines in this seminar:

2015 Tinazzi Custoza Cà dei Rocchi (Garganega 40%, Trebbiano di Soave 40%, Bianca Fernanda 20%)
C: pale straw
N: amazing, fresh sweet fruit, candies, through the roof aromatics. Green notes appear after a while.
P: crisp, clean, great acidity, fresh, will work great with seafood
V: 8-, food wine

2015 Gorgo Custoza San Michelin (Garganega, Cortese and Riesling Italico)
C: light gold
N: restrained, candied lemon, herbs, fresh caramel, opened into concentrated sweet baking spices. Smell is an enigma, keep changing. Yes, tropical fruit.
P: clean and crisp, but leaves sweet aftertaste. More concentrated than the previous wine, medium to full body, finish switched to more acidity
V: 7+/8-

2014 Cavalchina Custoza Superiore Amedeo (Garganega 40%, Fernanda 30% (Cortese clone), Trebbianello 15% (Tocai clone), Trebbiano Toscano
C: light golden
N: hint of smoke, gunflint
P: excellent, clean, green apple, fresh, perfect balance, acidity on the finish. Leaves me desire to take another sip
V: 8

2013 Albino Piona Custoza DOC (Garganega 30%, Trebbiano 35%, Friulano 20%, Trebbianello, Pinot Blanc and Riesling Italico)
C: light golden
N: medicinal, iodine, a nose almost suitable for a scotch
P: lots of fighting components, interesting. It is drinkable, but not together
V: 7-

2013 Menegotti Custoza Superiore Elianto (Cortese, Garganega, Trebbiano)
C: light golden
N: strange, vegetative
P: vegetative/sweet all over the place
V: 7

2013 Monte Del Frà Custoza Superiore Cà del Magro (40% Garganega, 20% Trebbiano Toscano, 5% Tocai Friulano, 10% Cortese, 10% Chardonnay-Riesling Italico-Malvasia and 15% Incrocio Manzoni)
C: golden, nice viscosity
N: minerality, hint of gunflint, white fruit sweetness, restrained
P: delicious. Ripe apples, white stone fruit, minerality, excellent balance
V: 8-

Custoza DOC Old Wines

Take a look at the color difference with younger wines

2010 Monte Del Frà Custoza Superiore Cà del Magro (40% Garganega, 20% Trebbiano Toscano, 5% Tocai Friulano, 10% Cortese, 10% Chardonnay-Riesling Italico-Malvasia and 15% Incrocio Manzoni)
C: concentrated gold
N: minerality, volcanic soils, smoke, interesting
P: interesting complexity, still a touch of oxidation, vanilla, sea salt
V: 7+. This is a drinkable wine, and it will stay like that for a while.

2007 Cavalchina Custoza Superiore Amedeo (Garganega 40%, Fernanda 30% (Cortese clone), Trebbianello 15% (Tocai clone), Trebbiano Toscano
C: concentrated gold
N: slightly oxidative nose, similar to Jura whites
P: vanilla, steely notes
V: 7. May be good with cheese, but not enjoyable on its own

I very much enjoyed young Custoza wines – many were vibrant and delicious. When it comes to the two older wines, I wouldn’t say I was fun (I’m sure you can see it in my notes). Yes, I like tertiary aromas of older wines, but I still want the wine to have harmony and balance – and this was not the case here.

Very interesting learning experience in any case, plus a new grape (Incrocio Manzoni), or even two if I will count Fernanda as a separate clone/grape. So, have you ever had Custoza wines? What do you think of them?

In the next post, I will be talking about Gambero Rosso Special Awards master class, so until the next time – cheers!

To be continued…

Top Highlights From Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri 2015

March 18, 2015 5 comments

Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri logoAt this point, you most likely already read a number of reviews from Gambero Rosso 2015 (here are the links for the John and Stefano posts, the two that I know of), so it will be difficult for me to add much there. Considering that lots of hard work is already done by the others, I will take an easy path and this year will limit my post only to the 10 (or so) of the personal highlights. But before we will get to those, a couple of notes.

First of all, just in case you didn’t read the other posts and in case you are not familiar with Tre Bicchieri, let me explain what Tre Bicchieri is all about. In 1986, an Italian food Italian Colorsand wine magazine was created under the name of Gambero Rosso (in translation from Italian it simply means “red shrimp”, and it comes after the name of the tavern in Pinocchio). Starting in 2002, the magazine introduced the rating of the Italian wines using the symbol of glasses (Bicchieri), with 3 glasses (Tre Bicchieri) being the highest rating. This rating proved to be successful and demanded, and since then the Gambero Rosso created a special event, called Tre Bicchieri, to celebrate all those best wine Italy has to offer. Tre Bicchieri events take place around the globe, and the event I attended was in New York (it was the third Tre Bicchieri event I attended in the past 3 years, all in New York).

For the next note, here comes the rant. Yes, Tre Bicchieri is a great event which gives an opportunity to taste some of the best Italian wines. But in terms of the overall organization, this is one of the worst wine tastings I ever attended. I have two major problems with the event. Just so you understand the size of the event – there were 185 producers showing between 1 and 3 wines each, which would roughly equate to 350 wines. First problem is that all the producers were not organized by the region. And they were not organized alphabetically by the producer, oh no, that would be too logical, right? Instead, the tables were arranged in the alphabetical order of the … distributors! So the wine from Tuscany stands next to the wine from Sicily. What makes it even worse is that the numbering of the tables is not straightforward, so the table #142 can be next to the table #50; to make matters even more interesting, some of the distributors who pour the wine, don’t have enough people to cover all the separate tables, so some of the tables had been simply “pulled in” to have #122 to be nested between #42 and #43 – makes it easy to find, eh?

This story was the same for the past 3 years I attended the event – but I still can’t get used to it and still find it very annoying.

The second problem was probably even more annoying, and for all I remember, it is getting worse, year after year. The problem can be expressed with one word (okay, two) – wine glasses. Puzzled? Let me elaborate. When you arrive to the event and show your registration, you get a little piece of paper, which is your coupon for the wine glass (! only at Gambero Rosso!). You come to the counter and exchange your coupon for the glass. All is good so far. Now, you start tasting, which means that white, red and even dessert wines get to be poured into the same glass – after 50 – 60 pours, the glass has traces of wine all over it, inside and outside, and what you can do at the regular wine tasting is to put your glass aside and go get a fresh glass. Makes sense, right? But not at the Tre Bicchieri. They bring best wines of Italy for a special tasting – but they can’t procure enough glasses for the people who would want to get a fresh glass to be able to do so. Believe me – I tried, was almost screamed at. I don’t remember having this problem 2 years ago; I was able to get a clean glass with the organizers intervention last year, but this year – no, was told to go away by the multiple people. Of course I appreciate been invited to the event where you can taste the best Italian wines, yes, for free – but I just think that organizers must make an effort to match the level of the wines with the overall level of the event.

Okay, I vented, so it is the end of the rant. Now let’s talk about the wines.

As you tell from the title, I want to mention here only the highlights. Before we talk about those, a few general notes.

  1. No, I didn’t taste all 350+ wines. May be someone did, but no, that was not me.
  2. There were lots and lots of truly spectacular wines, as you would expect at an event like Tre Bicchieri, where only the best wines are presented. But don’t assume that I found all wines to be spectacular. Some were just good, some were just okay, and a few I regarded in my personal notes as “terrible”. Taste is personal, and that’s okay.
  3. I want to reiterate it again – while there were lots of wines and wineries worth mentioning, I’m purposefully limiting this post only by 10 – they might not be all around the best, but they were the most memorable. Oh yes, these are not the wines – these are rather 10 wineries – yep, guilty as charged.
  4. As usual in the overwhelming tastings like this, I’m using the “plus” ratings. “+++” should stand for Excellent, but trust me, I had more than a fair share of “++++” spectacular.

Okay, now we are ready – here we go.

I want to start with one of my favorite wines which I was very happy to find at the Tre Bicchieri event – Podere Il Carnasciale Caberlot from Tuscany. This wine is made out of unique, “self-created” but officially recognized grape called Caberlot, which came to being as a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. First time I tasted this wine was 2 years ago, and it was a love at first sight, errr, taste. The wine is produced in minuscule quantities and only made in magnums – and needless to say, very hard to find. We tasted the following wines:

2012 Poderel Il Carnasciale Carnasciale, Tuscany – +++. excellent, old world style
2010 Poderel Il Carnasciale Caberlot, Tuscany – ++++, wow! classic Bordeaux blend, spectacular taste profile
2011 Poderel Il Carnasciale Caberlot, Tuscany – ++++, similar to the 2010, only with more tannins

There were lots of other great wines coming from Tuscany ( just think about all the super-Tuscans), so I had to limit myself in what to include in this post. Here is one more winery where  I was literally blown away by the quality – Azienda Agricola I Luoghi:

2010 Azienda Agricola I Luoghi Campo al Fico, Bolgheri Superiore – ++++, wow!
2011 Azienda Agricola I Luoghi Ritorti, Bolgheri Superiore – ++++, beautiful, clean
2011 Azienda Agricola I Luoghi Fuori Solco, Bolgheri Superiore – ++++, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, wow!, precision!

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Moving from Tuscany up north to Piedmont, Michele Chiarlo was perfectly representative of the area. Yes, there were other Barolo present in the tasting, but some were boring, and some where plain undrinkable due to the tannin attack (not just attack, a juggernaut rather). This wine was just perfect.

2010 Michele Chiarlo Barolo Cerequio, Piedmont – ++++, outstanding, clean, lavender, herbs

Continuing to explore the Northern Italy, we are now moving to Trentino, where we can find one of my favorite Italian Sparkling wines, Ferrari. While Ferrari wines are very hard to find in US, they are well worth seeking. Ferrari had 3 wines presented at the Tre Bicchieri, one better than another:

2004 Ferrari Trento Brut Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore – ++++, spectacular, notes of fresh dough, bread, yeast
2006 Ferrari Trento Brut Lunelli Riserva – ++++, very unique sparkling wine, undergoing maturation process in the oak casks, silky smooth palate
2007 Ferrari Trento Brut Perlé – ++++, beautiful!

Representing Campania, a few delicious wines. First, a beautiful white:

2013 Pietracupa Fiano di Avelino, Campania – ++++, fresh fruit on the nose, perfect palate with lemon and tart apples

And then the red and the white from the Fattoria Alois:

2011 Fattoria Alois Trebulanum Casavecchia, Campania – +++, rare grape, powerful tannins
2013 Fattoria Alois Pallagrello Bianco Caiati, Campania – +++, nice, acidic, clean, with some oily notes, unique and different. Plus, a new grape – Pallagrello Bianco.

A few wines from Puglia:

2012 Torrevento Castel del Monte Rosso Bolonero, Puglia – +++-|, fruity, open, beautiful ripe raspberries
2012 Torrevento Primitivo di Manduria Ghenos, Puglia – +++-|, playful, notes of tobacco and cedar


2012 Tenute Eméra Sud del Sud Salento IGT – +++, very good, soft approachable, reminiscent of Gamay, chocolate mocha notes
2013 Tenute Eméra Qu.ale Salento IGT – ++++, spectacular, great palate – not only this wine was outstanding, it was also a part of the very interesting project called Wine Democracy, which is all about making great affordable wines for the people and taking care of our little planet. Great cause, great wine.

Now, I need to mention another one of my favorite Italian producers – Jermann. Jermann wines represent Friuli Venezia Giulia, and I think these are some of the most thought-provoking Italian wines you can find. And as a side benefit, many of Jermann wines will age extremely well.

2012 Jermann W…. Dreams…. Friuli Venezia Giulia IGT – +++-|, spectacular, Chablis nose, light palate
2012 Jermann Vintage Tunina Friuli Venezia Giulia IGT – ++++, complex, delicious
2013 Jermann Pinot Grigio, Friuli Venezia Giulia IGT – +++

We are already at 9, and there are yet a few more wines I have to mention.  I guess I’m really bad at math and self-control. Oh well, I hope you are still with me – here are few more wines, wineries and regions.

A very interesting wine from Lazio:

2012 Principe Pallavicini Casa Romana Rosso Lazio IGT – ++++, outstanding claret, perfectly classic

And then an excellent wine from Veneto. Of course Veneto is best known for its Amarone. And those who can’t afford Amarone, should settle for the Valpolicella, often made from the same set of grapes (Corvina/Molinara etc.). I generally not a big fun of Valpolicella, as I hadn’t been successful in finding the Valpolicella wines which would speak to me. Until now.

2012 Musella Valpolicella Superopre DOCG – ++++, simple, clean, with dried fruit on the palate, excellent! Wine is produced biodynamically, and probably the most amazing part is cost, at about  €5! For the price, this is simply a stunning wine.

I would feel bad if I wouldn’t have at least one wine to mention from Sicily, where volcanic soils produce unique minerally-driven wines.

2013 Cantine Rallo Beleda Alcamo Catarratto, Sicily – ++++, spectacular, touch of sweetness, full body

And we are going to finish with some sparkling wines from Emilia-Romagna. There were lots of sparkling wines at the tasting, and many of them were outstanding. However, these wines really stood apart for me, as they were produced from the grape which generally commands  very little respect – Lambrusco, and they were pretty much on par with any classic Champagne.

2013 Cantina Della Volta Lambrusco di Sorbara Rimosso, Emilia-Romagna – +++, excellent, fresh, crisp
2010 Cantina Della Volta Lambrusco di Modena Brut Rosé, Emilia-Romagna – ++++, classic Champagne nose
2010 Cantina Della Volta Lambrusco di Modena Brut, Emilia-Romagna – +++, excellent!

Yep, this is the end of my report. As I said before, this is only a small excerpt from a great selection of spectacular wines – but I have to draw the line somewhere. I’m curious in your opinion if you had any of these wines. Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Plonk in the Headlines, Gambero Rosso and more

January 16, 2013 6 comments

Meritage Time!

Let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #43, Which One Doesn’t Belong. In the quiz, you were given a list of 6 well know Burgundy wines and you were supposed to identify the one which shouldn’t be on the list and explain why. Same as last time, we have exactly the same two winners – both vinoinlove and thedrunkencyclist were able to correctly identify that Clos de Lambrays shouldn’t be on the list of Grand Cru Monopoles. Monopole essentially is a single appellation in Burgundy which is owned by single family/winery. Clos du Tart, La Grand Rue, La Romanée, La Romanée Conti and La Tache are all Grand Cru Monopoles ( they all have their respective single owners), but tiny portion of Clos de Lambrays has its own separate owner, which makes it unqualified for the “Monopole” denomination. Congratulations to our winners, they are doing great winning the second quiz in the row – will see how long their winning streak will last, but for now they definitely got the unlimited bragging rights.

And now, let’s move on to the interesting stuff around the grapevines. First, the upcoming presidential inauguration created a lot of waves (rather a small tsunami) in the wine world, by selecting Korbel undrinkable plonk as a sparkling wine of choice, and also calling it a “Champagne”. Considering absolutely astonishing availability of great sparkling wines (authentic!!!) made in this country, from New Mexico to California to Virginia to New York, I can only raise both eyebrows (I would raise more if I would have it) at this selection. For a better coverage, you should read what Dr. Vino and Chris Kassel have to say about it. I truly hope that this selection is not indicative of what we should be expecting here in US of the next four years…

What do you think of a blind wine tasting? Do you think it is humbling? You bet. Do you think it is educational? I’m sure it is. But don’t take my word for it – here is an interesting article published by the Wine Spectator and talking about blind tasting experience – I think it will be well worth of your time.

Last but not least – Italian wine lovers, rejoice! Thanks to Stefano from Flora’s table, we now know that Gambero Rosso, one of the most respected and prestigious Italian wine guides, will run the wine tasting events around the US over the next few weeks.  For more information about Gambero Rosso events, please visit Stefano’s blog.

That’s all I have for you for today, folks. The glass is empty – but refill is on its way. Until the next time – cheers!

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