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Mar 11, 2009 08:49 AM

Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri tasting notes

167 different producers, 200+ wines, 100 minutes before the Friday afternoon NY crowd comes in? Tough job, but someone's got to do it! But thankfully, the wines were so good and varied that I decided there was no time for Sassicaia. My favorites:

Elena Walch Gewurztraminer 'Kastelaz' 2007
Elena Walch 'Beyond the Clouds' 2006
- One of my favorite producers in Alto Adige, I inquired as to the blend of the Clouds aside from the chardonnay, and was shot down by a wink and "It's a secret" from Julia Walch, who I can only assume is the gorgeous young daughter/niece of Elena. The gewurztraminer is among the best I've had and a great bargain for the money. Both wines have excellent minerality and length.

Russiz Superiore Collio Pinot Bianco 2007
- Almost clear, great texture, lingering minerality.

Marchesi di Frescobaldi Collio Bianco 'Attems' 2006
- Pinot bianco, sauvignon, friulano blend. Super bright fruit, very refreshing. I didn't know this Tuscan producer had expanded its holdings into Friuli

Mastroberadino Greco di Tufo 'Novaserra' 2006
- Pretty textbook greco from Campania. At the price, I'm getting me a case for the summer.

Köfererhof Valle Isarco Sylvaner 2007
- Does Michael Skurnik every import anything mediocre? Great length.

Bisceglia Bosco delle Rose 2007
- A chardonnay winner of "only" won two glasses. My first chardonnay from Basilicata, and very impressed. Peach and apricot pits aromas, with a minty and flinty nose.


Cottanera Etna Rosso 2005
Palari Faro 2006
- Firmer than Passopisciaro and Terre Nere. Italy's answer to Burgundy, at a fraction of the cost?

Querciabella 'Camartina' 2005
Le Pupille 'Saffredi' 2005
- Typical, high-priced, fruit forward Super Tuscans that I would not wish to afford. But still really tasty.

Petrolo 'Galatrona' 2006
- 100% merlot. I might spring for this one. Has better depth than the previous two.

Allegrini Amarone 2004
Antinori 'Tignanello' 2005
- Much better than I had remembered in previous tastings.

Punica 'Barrua' 2005
- Really elegant wine from Sardegna and based on carignano, something one doesn't get to say very often.

Casanova di Neri 'Pietradonice' 2005
100% cabernet sauvignon. Cabernet on its own often experiences what Maria L refers to as the donut effect, being somewhat empty in the middle. Not this one. Aromas of cassis, currants and sweet cedar play off each other and the finish is amazing. For me at least, blew away the Ornellaia. Would have been the wine of the tasting, except...

Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino 'Il Greppo' 2003
Weeeeeee! An incredibly lithe and fresh brunello, displaying more red than dark fruits. As someone who doesn't love the sangiovese grape in its various incarnations, this was really eye-opening. Undoubted the best young brunello I've tried. Even though I tasted it towards the end of the afternoon, it remained the only wine I did not spit.

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  1. 'was shot down by a wink and "It's a secret"'

    I'm sure maria lorraine can comment on that.

    5 Replies
    1. re: RicRios

      Alas, I have no info to offer about the blend. The most info I've read and heard is that the Elena Walch 'Beyond the Clouds' blend is of seven Alto Adige/Sud Tirol varietals. The wine has received great reviews. Elena Walch is talented -- she is also one of my favorite winemakers in AA.

      Meng, so happy you got to taste a little Biondi-Santi Brunello. Really something.

      1. re: maria lorraine

        Yes, I am very happy too. There haven't been too many '03 Brunellos that have been impressive given their price tags, but this was really special.

        We're in agreement about Elena Walch. Even her basic pinot grigio and bianco bottlings are great.

        1. re: maria lorraine

          .... from an insider,
          chard (predominately) plus 4 other "traditional" Alto varietals. one of 'em is full on in your face on the nose....

          1. re: jdwdeville

            not to quibble, but I've read seven AA varietals...and I think they are Gewurtz, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer, Muscat, Riesling and one other, possibly Muscat.

            perhaps the blend changes year to year, not only the percentage of each varietal, but the number of varietals.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              I listed Muscat twice...sigh...Maria to brain...

              oh well, one other varietal to total seven...

      2. thanks for sharing, I think...

        1. Thanks, mengathon. You've inspired me to find just the right accompaniment to pasta tonight...I am a big fan of Cottanera, the etna rosso and nerello being my favorites.

          1. Very jealous sounds like something I would have liked to go to also! Any tips on getting in to next year's event?

            4 Replies
            1. re: a81

              The event is open to the public. I believe tickets are around $50 or so. Slow Foods, the publisher/partner of Gambero Rosso also offers complimentary tickets, though I'm not sure how to obtain them.

              1. re: mengathon

                Depending on where you live, some winestores sell tickets and work with GR in organizing the event.

                The GR tasting in LA a few weeks ago was a total mess. Trucks from the east coast carrying the wine apparently departed late and then got held up in a midwest storm.

                The wines finally arrived in LA at the event location about 3 hours late or so.

                Very Italian :)

                1. re: vinosnob

                  That sounds about right, vinosnob!

                  1. re: vinosnob

                    ... but ONCE they got there, oh! what a tasting! and getting fuzzy and friendly with winemakers who were handing out all the extra bottles at the end was a treat too.
                    BTW, did anyone taste Vignalta?
                    a Bordeaux-style producer based in Colli Euganei, 15mi south of Venice---wow!
                    he was debuting a new wine called Arqua(?). I lucked out and got the first sip of this wine ever in America (my winegeeky soul swells) and it's on par with first or second growth b'deaux, only richer, more concentrated, elemental. goddamn.

              2. Many of the tre biccheri are not even available in the U. S. You mentioned Querciabella: the '06 Chianti is a phenominal chianti, in league with the best from Ama (not the reserves). With a price point at $35 and 27 or 28 at discount this is a real value. Just a superb vintage and this competes for the best. The '04 Amarone and Valpolicella vintage may be the best in 25 years from the Veneto. The best of all this is Dal Forno who himself says it is his best ever. His '03 Valpolicella is worth every dollar of the expensive US $120 or so it sells for. I would even go so far as to describe it as breathtaking. He doubled its concentration with the '02 vintage. The '03 is even more remarkable, perhaps better than even 90% of the amarones that anyone else sells. His '04 Valpolicella is even better along with the amarone which will be released this fall. Allegrini? It's good but it's not in the same league with Dal Forno, Quintarelli or even Sergio Zenato whose '03 is excellent.

                Another point: I have hand carried wine from Italy for almost 30 years. I will make the sincere argument that wine that I buy from a winery and carry myself to the U. S., in general, is better than the exact same wine that I buy here. I've opened Dal Forno's '97 amarone which I bought from him side by side with the same wine purchased here. I've even carried his own wine from here to Romano so he could taste his wine-after it arrived here.

                It's not the same. There IS something lost in a container on a boat, whether it's vibration, variation in temperature or how it's stored after it gets here. Still, when I read "tre biccheri," for me, it means something different in the U. S. than it does in Italy.

                Should I mention the Caymus that I once tasted in Italy? Does anyone reading this really believe that it would taste the same in, say, Soave, that it did in Napa? It didn't.

                All the more reason to drink wine at it's source. If possible.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Joe H

                  Hey Joe H, have you tried the "Roccolo Grassi" Valpolicella or Amarone from Marco Satori? his wine, while not as intensely concentrated as Dal Forno (something I find a blessing, BTW, so I can drink more than a glass), is impeccable and somewhat comparable, and his "young lion" gambero rosso status ensures future stardom... at a fraction of the DFR prices!

                  1. re: jdwdeville

                    Really appreciate the suggestion. I just found it on . Have you had Sergio Zenato? This sounds very similar, about the same price range. I will try several bottles. Thanks again!

                    1. re: Joe H

                      I have had several Zenato wines, please be sure to let me know how the Roccolo Grassi wines stand up to them, in your opinion!

                      1. re: jdwdeville

                        Will do but a very important point: Sergio Zenato is the reserve and far superior to the regular Zenato amarones.