It is always a pleasure to attend the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri Annual Tour in NYC. Tasting some of the best Italian wines and talking to the producers and other members of the Italian wine world make it an exciting event.
Gambero Rosso’s guide, “Vini d’Italia,” is issued every year in the autumn. More than 20,000 wines from all the regions of Italy are tasted every year by a competent jury and only the very best, about 400, are selected with the distinction of being awarded “Tre Bicchieri,” the highest honor bestowed by Gambero Rosso. The event was very well attended by Italian wine producers, wine writers, importers, retailers and restaurateurs. Wines from over 100 producers were featured.
Here are just a few of the wines I tasted.
Ilaria Pettito with the DonnaChiara Greco di Tufo “Aletheia” 2020, DOCG 100% Greco di Tufo. Only the best grapes from the Santa Paolina vineyard in the Tufa zone are used. The harvest is by hand during the coolest parts of the day, the second half of October. The soil is tuffaceous and the training system is guyot. Cryomaceration is at 42-46F to preserve the aroma, prevent oxidation and enhance the characteristics of the grapes. There is a soft pressing of the grapes using a pneumatic press and fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for about 15 days. The fermented must is left to age on the lees for about a year with weekly batonnage. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine remains in the bottle for a period of time before release. This is an intense wine with hints of citrus fruit, pear, apricot a note of hazelnuts, and a touch of pineapple. I have known Ilaria for some time and have visited the winery. I also really like her Falanghina!
Massimo Alois with the Michele Alois Terra del Volturno Pallagrello Bianco IGT “Marrone” 2018 (Campania). Made from 100% Pallagrello Bianco from the 15-year-old Morrone della Monica 2.13 hectare vineyard at 350 meters in Pontelatone. The exposure is east/west and the soil is limestone. There are 5,200 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place in early September. Two-thirds of the wine is vinified in stainless steel at a controlled temperature for one month and one-third of the wine is on the lees in neutral oak for nine months. The wine remains in the bottle for 12 months before release. This is a full bodied intense wine with hints of citrus fruit, melon, a touch of chamomile and a note of apricot. The first time I had this wine was was at Trattoria San Ferdinando in Naples. I was very impressed with this wine then and I was just as impressed this time.
Roberto Di Meo with the Di Meo Fiano di Avellino “Alessandra’ Riserva 2013 (Campania). Made of 100% Fiano from the Alessandra vineyard planted in 1995. The vineyard is at 550 meters with a northeast exposure with clay and semi-limestone soil. There are 4,500 plants per hectare and the training systems espalier with mono lateral guyot pruning. There is a manual harvest of slightly overripe grapes in the second week of October. The grapes are destemmed and a soft pressing takes place. Maceration is on the skins and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. It remains in steel for 8 years and then in bottle for 12 months before release. This is a very special wine with hints of chamomile, peach, apricot, acacia honey a touch of beeswax and a note of smoke. It may have been the best white wine at the tasting. When I visited the winery in 2016 Roberto opened a 2003 and it was wonderful.
Livio Felluga Terre Alte Collio Orientali del Friuli 2019 Livio Felluga a blend of estate grown grapes: Friulano, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon Blanc from the vineyards in the Rosazzo zone. The soil is marl and sandstone and the training system is guyot. The bunches of grapes are carefully destemmed and left to macerate for a short period of time before crushing. The must is then allowed to settle. Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon are fermented at controlled temperatures in stainless steel tanks. The Friulano is fermented and aged in small casks of French (no new oak is used) oak. The Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon mature in stainless steel tanks. After aging for ten months the wines are blended. The bottled wine is aged in temperature controlled binning cellars for 9 months before release. The wine has a touch of sage, hints of pear, and apricot and peach and fresh almonds.
Giulia Cecchi with the Famiglia Cecchi Chianti Classico “Villa Rosa” Grand Selezione 2018. Made from 100% Chianti Classico. Villa Rosa situated between the hills of Castellina in Chianti extending over 126 hectares of which 30 are vineyards. The vineyards are at 340 meters and the soil is calcareous soil characterized by a combination of alberese limestone with marl slate. There are 4,800 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. There is traditional temperature controlled fermentation on the skins for 22 days. Aging is for 15 months in tonneaux, 3 months in concrete and one year on bottle before release. The wine has hints of spice, black cherry, plum and floral notes and a touch of walnuts.
Alessandro Ruspoli with his Chianti Classico Riserva 2019 Lilliano made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot from the first selection. After a careful selection the grapes undergo soft pressing and destalking. During fermentation the must is pumped over with plunging of the cap on a daily basis. Maceration lasts for 21 to 25 days depending on the vintage. Malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine ages in large casks of French oak 28 to 34HL. The final blend is assembled and the wine ages in glass a minimum of 6 months. The wine has hints of cherry, cassis, violets, and a touch of spice.
Paolo Cantele with the Salice Salentino Riserva Cantele production area Guagnano (LE). 100% Negroamaro. The vines are pruned-spur condon trained and there are 4,500 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place at the end of September. After being destemmed and crushed, the must is macerated with skin contact for about 10 days. Fermentation is carried out at 25/26C. Once malolactic fermentation is completed, the wine is aged 1 year in 2-year-old barriques and about 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of candied fruit, spice, and tea and is well balanced. Paolo said the wine is ready to drink but will continue to evolve for 3 to 4 years.The wine has hints of red and black fruit, spice with a note of tea and a touch of roses.
Massimo Randi with the Ravenna Longanesi IGT “Burson Etichetta Blu” Randi made from100% Longanesi. The oil is medium textured clay and the training system is spurred cordon. About 50% of the grapes are dried before aging and the wine spends a minimum of 24 months in tonneaux. This is a balanced soft wine wine has hints of lavender, licorice, cassis, blackberries, blueberries plums, a balsamic note and a touch of violets.
Before the Tre Bicchieri walk around tasting there was a Masterclass sponsored by the Consorzio Vini Di Romagna which I attended. I was so impressed with this wine that I had to taste it again during the walk around tasting.
Diego Cusumano with the Alta Mora Etna Rosso Cusumano made from 100% Nerello Mascalese. The vineyards are at 600 to 800 meters and the average age of the vines is 20 years. Training system is free standing vines and espalier. There is a manual harvest the second week of October. The grapes are destemmed and lightly pressed. Maceration at 28C for 12 days followed by malolactic fermentation in stainless steel and successive finings is barrels of 25 hl liters. This is a medium bodied wine with hints of red fruit, raspberry, cherries, pomegranate, floral notes and a touch of spice.