The annual Gambero Rosso Slow Food Italian Wine Tasting reminds us a little of the Oscars. People lined up outside the Puck building anxious to get in, half the men are dressed in Armani and everybody’s dying to find out who will be the big star of the evening. The space is packed with industry-types, producers and wine geeks who are on the lookout for the next great Italian wines. The top producers honored at this tasting have won the tre bicchieri (three glasses) award, which recognizes top premium Italian Wines. This year there was not one wine that swept the tasting, but there were quite a few standouts. Here are our favorites:
Best Pinot Grigio: 2004 Lis Neris Pinot Grigio Gris, around $20
This Pinot Grigio was one of the best we’ve had with layers of pear, hazelnut and soft toasted wood notes.
Best Big Wine: 2004 Montevetrano, around $80
This big wine from Campania has developed a bit of a cult following. The intense black berry flavors pop and the big, firm tannins add great depth to the wine.
Best Modern Style Wine: 2004 Zonta Due Santi
This blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 10% Merlot is rich and full on the palate with notes of blackberries, pepper and minerality.
Best Traditional Style Wine: 2003 Valtellina Sfursat DOC 5 Stelle
This well-balanced wine had a nice amount of acidity, intense notes of black cherry and spices with firm, well-integrated tannins.
Most Memorable: 2002 Turriga, around $55
While it likely we will not remember the names of the four grapes that are used in making this wine (85% Cannonau and 15% Malvasia Nera, Carignano and Bovale Sardo) this was the wine that we were still thinking about three tables later. Soft, smooth tannins and notes of spices, black cherries and oak make this wine a keeper.
Great Sparkling Wine: Trento Giulio Ferrari (traditional method)
Tasty and Unique White: 2002 Etna Bianco Sup. Pietramarina and 2004 Pietraincatenata
Lush and Spicy Red: 2003 Colline Lucchesi Tenuta di Valgiano
On second thought, maybe it’s better than the Oscars. There are no long, acceptance speeches to sit though and by the end of the night everyone’s trashed.