NEW YORK-Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan the Grand Hall at Union Station Chicago and
The Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco , were the settings for the national tour of the wines awarded Italy's highest wine honor. Tre Bicchieri (three glasses) is the designation given to Italy's top wines by Gambero Rosso(the red prawn or shrimp), an authority on all things Italian that relate to food, wine and travel. Founded in 1986, it is a media conglomerate that publishes a magazine, has an online publication and operates a 24/7 broadcast facility, cooking school and culinary academy with massive TV studios and demonstration kitchens named Citta del Gusta (City of Taste) in Rome and Naples. Think Bon Appetit magazine, the Food Network and the Culinary Institute of America all under one roof.
So it is that Gambero Rosso and its panel of judges annual select the top Italian wines to be honored from a field of more than 200 producers and 20,000 wines. The annual tasting presentation of the Gambero Rosso Guide to Italian Wines is one of the most anticipated events of the year for wine aficionados.
Among the standouts at this year's presentation was Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2011($24.95). Winner of two glasses (due bicchieri) in the Gambero Rosso competition, this Veronese IGT is a vibrant, bold Iatlian red that speaks of its flavor character by its lush ruby color alone. Poured personally by Allegrini's brand ambassador and head of sales, Marilisa Allegrini, a sixth generation family member, the wine displayed pronounced flavors of dark cherries, ripe, almost dried plums and jam. Aging provided overtones of smoke and dark chocolate while the lingering taste of salt taffy and a whiff of crushed violets completed the experience. The wine is a Corvina Blend that speaks to the land and the local grapes. Local Corvina and Rondinella grapes were vinified at harvest, while the remaining Sangiovese, the indigenous backbone of Italian wine, was allowed to dry in "passito" until it becomes a dark raisin. The concentrated juice is then blended into the wine for a second fermentation, which gives the wine depth and body. This is a perfect wine with dry aged steak, hearty red-sauced pasta or "Mamma's" Lasagna or for contemplation with a good Cuban cigar (now legal!) and a roaring fire.
My good friend Jamie Stewart from Cantine Ferrari poured his fabulous Ferrari Brut Perle' 2007 ($38.99) ferom Trentino in northeastern Italy, not far from Venice. This mouth-watering, expressive wine almost explodes in the mouth with flavors of crisp Asian pears, hints of Meyer lemon and lingering flavors of crystallized ginger and toasted almonds. It is the most refined expression of the "methodo classico" that Italian sparkling wine has to offer and a steal at this price.
Bettina Rogosky was on hand to pour her Tre Bicchieri winner, Il Caberlot 2010 ($133). This IGT blend has become a benchmark for Italian "Super Tuscans." A mono-varietal wine made from a mystery proprietary grape clone described as a mix of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, this is a rare wine indeed. The producers, Podere Il Carnasciale, and winemaker Peter Schilling, have created quite a stir in the close-knit world of Tuscan wine with this stunning offering. The dark garnet color nearly shimmers. The wine is only sold in magnum bottles, and that should give some clue as to the quality inside. Dark and rich, the wine reveals layer upon layer of flavor the longer it sits in the glass. The wine is well-balanced and food-friendly, yet, it stands on its own as a wine for contemplation. One could not ask for a more satisfying drinking experience. For more on award-winning Italian wines, visit gamberorosso.it.
With Marilisa Allegrini of Allegrini Wines of Veneto
Below: The celebratory tasting at Tre Bicchieri
Below: More interesting faces in the crowd at Tre Bicchieri