A couple of months ago, I received three cases of wine for the online Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri wine tasting. Every year, Gambero Rosso, an Italian food and wine magazine, tastes thousands of Italian wines and less than 1% of the wines tasted receive the top rating of Tre Bicchieri (three glasses). In normal times, the tastings are conducted in person at several sites across the country (and it appears that they will resume this September).
For me, tasting 36 wines in three hours is more than a bit challenging, so instead, I tasted the wines one at a time, usually at dinner, in order to better evaluate each bottle. Here are the first six that I tasted:
2019 Bortolomiol Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Ius Naturae Brut, Italy: Retail $20. 100% Glera. Organic. For me, it is always a joyous occasion to open a DOCG Prosecco from Valdobbiadene. One, it reminds me of the incredibly beautiful town and the surrounding vineyards which truly are stunning. Two, I know the wine will be very good, even excellent since the wines from the hillsides of the DOCG are much more carefully made than those from the valley floor (DOC). This is no exception. An incredibly fruity wine with loads of green apple and citrus, with intense minerality and tartness. It’s pale straw color, with persistent and fine bubbles is particularly inviting in the glass as well. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 Pieropan Soave Classico Calvarino, Italy: Retail $35. 70% Garganega, 30% Trebbiano di Soave. Under cork. I do not have a ton of experience with single vineyard Soave, but this wine confirms that must change. And soon. Golden color with honeyed apricot, orange rind, white peach, honey blossom, and a whole lot of verve. Whoa. The palate is perhaps even more compelling with an initial austerity, driven by the bell-ringing tartness, but the fruit forces its way in bringing along an intense minerality and considerable depth. Honestly, it took me a while to appreciate this wine as it is so far afield from a standard Soave. Once I got there? Holy cow. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2019 Tiare Collio Sauvignon, Italy: Retail $35. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. DIAM 5 closure. I would not say that I buy a ton of Sauvignon, but I do get a fair number of samples made from the variety. I steadfastly believe that the best Sauvignon Blanc comes from Sancerre in the Loire Valley, but inroads are certainly being made in California (Napa Sauv Blanc can be fabulous). Well, add Collio to that rather short list (can it be a “list’ with only two entries?). Brilliant straw in the glass with a near-overriding savory, nutty aspect that is quite appealing. There is also fruit, both tropical and citrus, as well as a slightly vegetal component (I can’t get “celery” out of my mind, but that’s not quite it). The palate is all of this and more with the added critical elements of a zingy acidity and a lengthy finish. Yowza. And a Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2019 Bosco del Merlo Lison-Pramaggiore Turranio, Italy: Retail $20. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. It would not take a whole lot of digits to count the number of Italian Sauvignon Blancs I have tasted, but this would have to rate near the top. Light in color but rich in aromas with slightly under-ripe lemon rind, wet rock, and just a hint of white pepper on the nose. The palate is quite tart, almost New Zealand SB tart, but it lacks the cat pee and the astringency that I normally associate with that style. It is rich in flavor but also austere in presentation (if that makes any sense). As I said, I have limited experience in Italian Sauvignon Blanc, but this is particularly compelling. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Kellerei Kurtatsch Alto Adige – Südtirol KOFL Sauvignon, Italy: Retail $25. 100% Suvignon Blanc. Cork. This is the third Sauvignon Blanc in as many tries that I have opened from the Gambero Rosso tasting. As I mentioned in the last note, I do not taste many Italian Sauvignons, and while this is fantastic, it is hard to place it given my inexperience. Very light straw color in the glass with aromas of cat pee (yes, a thing, although rare in Europe), lime zest, wet rock, salinity. The palate is tart and bright, oozing acidity and that saltiness. Yowza. This is several categories away from French, Californian, and New Zealand SB, and that is just fine by me. Wonderful. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2018 La Roncaia Colli Orientali del Friuli Eclisse, Italy: Retail $20. Sauvignon Blanc, Picolit. DIAM5 closure. Light straw with green under tones, this wine is quite mineral and salty on the nose with lime zest and a hazelnut vibe. The palate is bright and angular with subtle fruit and plenty of acidity. This might be my first time that I have knowingly imbibed any Picolit and I have to say it marries well with the Sauvignon Blanc. Great for charcuterie, grilled chicken, and light to medium cheeses. Very Good. 89 Points.