The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Gambero Rosso’s Annual Tre Bicchieri Tasting

Posted on | March 2, 2010 | Written by Christy Canterbury | 4 Comments

Last week the annual Tre Bicchieri tasting hit New York.  “Tre Bicchieri,” which means “three glasses,” is the top award given to wines from The Boot by the Italian wine guide Gambero Rosso, a division of Slow Food Editore. Outside, the day was cold and gray, but inside the Metropolitan Pavilion, the fervor of the crowd of winemakers, professionals and Italian wine enthusiasts warmed the interior as if by the Tuscan sun.

As I entered, I organized my attack:  reds from the islands and the south followed by a refreshing pass through whites and sparklers.   I was thrilled to see representation from a wide diversity of grape varieties (Primitivo, Gaglioppo, Grechetto and many more).  Looking at the stunning spectrum of wines, I was struck by the evidence of the many ways that Italian producers have turned on the quality, and how adventurously the world is drinking their wines.  What a tremendous vote for the heritage varieties of Italy!

I put my plan of attack into action. The onslaught of grippy tannin and bracing acidity that characterizes Italian reds satisfied my expectations.  Along the way, my usual remorse that these wines would be—in most cases—consumed far too young surfaced.  However, there were some delicious wines to drink right now, especially whites: from spry Soave to aromatically alluring Arneis, I was pleasantly surprised.  Then, peeking between arms extending glasses and peering over spittoons I saw my heartthrob Italian sparkler, Lambrusco!  A Tre Bicchieri Lambrusco!  I am overjoyed not only to have this much maligned DOC brought back to life, but I was thoroughly delighted to see that one artisanal producer earned the top Gambero Rosso award.

The styles of the wines I tasted still largely leaned to high levels of extraction, though the oak treatments did not strike me as heavy-handed as in previous years.  (Mind you, I was only there for 45 minutes, and even if I was in power-tasting mode, I tasted only a very limited number of the wines available.)  For years critics have buzzed about the seeming contradiction that Slow Food’s scoring supports more modern wine styles, as opposed to more terroir-expressive styles that one would expect; however, recently I’ve been reading there has been change in reviewing philosophy.  My experience at Tre Bicchieri didn’t quite convince me of this purported shift, but style aside, the guide certainly finds wines of quality.

The most exciting aspect of this event is the exhilaration over the wines of Italy.  (And, of course, I always love scoping out the latest in Italian fashion.  The producers are always decked out.)  Italy, always a stalwart producer of fine wine, has unquestionably raised the bar in the ten years since I began working in Italian wines, and it’s clearly pushing it higher.  I walked away feeling that it’s an honor to work with such a dynamic sector of fine wine.


4 Responses to “Gambero Rosso’s Annual Tre Bicchieri Tasting”

  1. Leigha Montgomery
    March 3rd, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

    I’m so curious…which producer was this heartthrob of a Lambrusco from?

  2. Christy Canterbury
    March 3rd, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

    Good question! I should clarify that I was referring generally to (high quality and typically drier) Lambrusco as my heartthrob Italian sparkler. The Tre Bicchieri Lambrusco is from Ermete Medici & Figli, and while tasty, might not have made my heart race as fast as others of its genre.

  3. Mel G
    March 28th, 2010 @ 8:06 am

    Christy, thanks for the bracing synopsis. how I long for the charms of a good soave or polite tingle of good arneis. and well made delicious lambrusco, that doesn’t hurt my head the next day is hard to find!! will the store be picking up any wines from this tasting? I will swing by IWM at the end of May to satisfy my cravings. My Italian inammorato has to be aglianico!

  4. Christy Canterbury
    March 29th, 2010 @ 5:51 pm

    Hi Mel, We don’t plan on bringing in any wines from that tasting specifically. We happen to have Tre Bicchieri wines here, but we buy them just because they are delicious, not for their scores!

Leave a Reply