Gambero Rosso (red prawn, to you) invited me and Helen (media comps) to attend their annual 8‑city U.S. tasting tour. Fortunately, one was in Los Angeles! This event is a wonderful opportunity to sample just released award-winning Italian wines. A Tre Bicchieri (three glasses) rating indicates an extraordinary wine – of which there were many. My sip/spit partner, Helen, will share her finely-tuned impressions of the standouts (see below). KEN
Gambero Rosso, Tre Bicchieri 2019! I look forward to this tasting event every year. Italian wines brim with sublime flavors both familiar and unfamiliar. It is very easy to overwhelm the palate (and the liver!) with so many wonderful wines of distinction being poured. The temptation is to head for the tried and true, the Chianti Gran Seleziones and the Barolos, but venturing a little off the beaten track pays dividends at this event.
Semidano is a very rare grape from Sardinia that was at one time thought to be extinct. Semidano di Mogoro Sup.
Nerello Mascalese is grown in the Mount Etna region of Sicily. It thrives on the elevation and rich volcanic soil. From the Pietradolce Vineyard on the Northern slopes of Etna, Etna Rosso Contrada Rampante, 2016 is a mouthful of heaven from the highest elevation of the vineyard. Ripe berries, fennel, earthy spices dance beautifully together. Sensational. A little lower in the same vineyard, the Etna Archineri, 2016 is a light and elegant combination of rose petals, sage,
From Puglia, the Nero Di Troia grape produces an exceptional wine, Castel del Monte Rosso V. Pedale Riserva, 2015. This was a delight to taste — a perfectly balanced red with integrated acidity, tannins for structure, perfume (Lavender and Sandalwood) on the nose, and plum
The region of Emilia
Tre Bicchieri 2019
Back on the beaten track, the Super Tuscans produced my Tre Bicchieri 2019 “Best In Show.” Tenuto di Biserno “Biserno” 2012.
The man behind Biserno is Lodovico Antinori. His family is famous in Tuscany and they were very involved in pioneering Super Tuscan wines (These are made from Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, which are non-traditional grapes for the region that nonetheless flourish in Tuscany). Lodovico founded the prestigious Ornellaia label. Financial woes and upheavals forced him to sell his stake in the label, which would eventually become wholly owned by his nemesis, the Frescobaldi Empire.
Lodovico first discovered the property that would become Tenuto di Biserno, when he was looking to expand the vineyards of Ornellaia. Due to the differences in geology, he decided it would not be the right fit for that label, but he became passionate about the land for his new project. He planted it between 2001 and 2005 and made Cabernet Franc (as opposed to the Merlot in Ornellaia) the star blending grape. Tenuto di Biserno “Biserno,” 2012, is an outstanding wine, something everyone should taste once in his or her lifetime. When I started to swish the succulent plums and spice around my mouth, some strange magic took over and I did something I almost never do at a wine tasting event… I swallowed! I swallowed and I wanted more! Next, I urged Ken to join me in a side-by-side tasting of the spectacular, huge and round, Le Serre
Some images appear courtesy of Gambero Rosso.