February 2022 saw the resumption of the traditionally annual North American Tre Bicchieri roadshow after the pandemic-mandated halt to large-scale, trade-only wine tastings.
Tre Bicchieri, which translates into “three glass” is the designation that Gambero Rosso, home of the comprehensive Vini d’Italia wine guide gives to the fewer than one percent of the more than 45,000 Italian wines that the guide’s tasters rate each year. The roadshow, which visited San Francisco as one of its series of six U.S. tastings, provides a unique opportunity to sample (and ideally expand distribution and sales of) these and two other select wines from each of 104 of Italy’s top producers.
Before the big event, Gambero Rosso co-hosts a few winery-specific lunches with select Tre Bicchieri-winning wineries at local restaurants. These lunches provide opportunities to taste the wineries’ top wines with dishes that complement them.
We attended a San Francisco event with Tuscan winery Fattoria di Valiano at 54 Mint restaurant. It started with a lovely sparkling wine followed by a three-course lunch that was paired with five of the winery’s Chianti Classicos.
- Antipasti included a radicchio salad with gorgonzola, toasted walnuts and honey vinaigrette, tomato and basil rice croquettes with molten smoked mozzarella and a charcuterie plate. These were paired with Valiano’s 2018 Chianti Classico and the more interesting 2017 “Poggio Teo” vineyard-specific Chianti Classico.
- Entrees were a choice of tonnarelli pasta, grilled ribeye with peppers and crispy potatos and mustard and lemon marinated chicken breast with braised escarole, raisins and olives. These were paired with three of the winery’s premium wines: 2018 “Poggio Teo” Chianti Classico Riserva (which has a slightly higher alcohol levels and is barrel aged for at least 24 months versus 12 months for their non-riserva wines) and two Gran Selezione wines which must consist of 100% estate fruit—and typically from a single, premier vineyard—and barrel aged for a minimum of 30 months. These were the 2018 “San Lazzaro” and our favorite, the “6.38”.
- Dessert, which, unfortunately, did not come with one of Chianti’s famous Vin Santo dessert wines, consisted of pastries with fruit marmalade, tiramisu and vanilla pannacotta with aged balsamic.
It was a lovely way to wet our anticipation for the following day’s grand tasting.
Italian Wines Grand Tasting
Italy has 20 wine regions and grows a wide variety of grapes. As wine enjoyment is subjective, what we like may not be the same as what you like. However, here are the wines we most enjoyed at the event based on our palettes:
- Pala 2020 Vermentino di Sardegna Stellato
- Cantina Terlano 2017 Pinot Bianco Vorberg Riserva
- Castello di Corbara 2020 Lago di Corbara Sangiovese
- Tenute Chiaromonte Gioia del Colle Primativo Riserva ‘15Gioia
- Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Vign. Di Campolungo ‘16
- Ruffino Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Riserva Ducale Oro ‘17
- Tenuta Casadei Chianti Rufina Lastricato Riserva ‘17
- Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico Riserva ‘15
- Boscarelli Nobile di Montepulciano Il Nocio ‘17
- Die Nobile di Montepulciano ‘17
- G.D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole ‘17
- Amalia Cascina in Langa Barolo la Costa di Monforte ‘17
- Pico Marccario Barolo del Commune di Serralungo d’ Alba ‘17
- Moncherio Carbone Barbera d’Alba Monbirone ‘18
- Palmento Costanzo Etna Rossa Contrada Santo Spirito Part. 468 ‘16
- Feudo Montori Sicilia Nero di’Avala V. Lagnusa ‘19
- Donnafugata Passito di Pantelleria Ben Rye’ 17 (one of the very few dessert wines in the tasting)
- Speri Amarone della Valpolicella Classico San Urbano ‘16
- Fontanavecchia Aglianico del Taberno V. Cattarette Riserva ‘17