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 next set of six that I tasted:
2018 Ottella Lugana Riserva Molceo, Italy: Retail $40. B.A.B. 100% Turbiana (Trebbiano di Lugana). This is the second bottle of Turbiana that I have had in as many days (or close) and I am falling for the variety. Hard. And this wine? Easily the best Turbiana I have had (disregard the fact that I could count the number of wines on one hand with enough fingers left over to swirl the glass). Fantastic nose of lemon meringue, a touch of lime, a bit of salinity, very nice. But the nose did not prepare me for the palate. At. All. Whoa. Rich, intense fruit, shocking acidity, incredible balance. Whoa. This is really fantastic. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2017 Perla del Garda Lugana Perla Madonna della Scoperta, Italy: Retail $24. 100% Turbiana (Trebbiano di Lugana). Under Nomacorc (ugh). Starting with the synthetic stopper, I am not a fan of the bottle. While it is a bit heavier than it needs to be, the real problem is that the bottle shape precludes it from fitting in just about any normal wine rack. That aside, I am a fan. I do not get a chance to drink a ton of Turbiana and it may become considerably more difficult if the proposed high speed rail system takes out a significant portion of the already limited vineyard area in the region. Oh, the wine? Yeah, it is delightful with bright pineapple, dried apricot, and an un-roasted nutty aspect on the nose. The palate is quite reminiscent of the genetically similar Verdicchio, with acidity, yes, but also a luscious mouthfeel that is certainly “round” but stops short of “fat.” Would be fantastic with same lake trout, which is no coincidence as the region is defined by Italy’s largest lake, Garda. Excellent. 91 Points.
2016 Luigi Tacchino Barbera del Monferrato Albarola, Italy: Retail $24. B.A.B. Under cork. 100% Barbera. Despite being the largest of the three Barbera communes, Barbera del Monferrato is easily the least well-known, particularly in the U.S. (Barbera d’Asti and d’Alba being the other two). This del Monferrato is near inky dark in the glass, with cherry and dark berry fruit, anise, and a hint of oak. The palate is fruity, but on the verge of brooding, but balanced with that classic Piedmontese tartness, hints of black earth, and a bit of heft (14.5% ABV which is pretty high for the region). Not much to speak of in the tannin department, so this wine is for short-term consumption. Excellent. 91 Points.
2018 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico, Italia: Retail $25. DIAM5 closure. 90% Sangiovese; 10% Colorino, Canaiolo, and Ciliegiolo. Wow. Looking at some of the reviews on Cellar Tracker, I had to make sure I was drinking the same wine. Most of the commenters found this wine a bit average or pedestrian, but I find this, well “classic” Chianti Classico. Beautiful (while also subtle) red berry fruit wafts from this nearly translucent ruby red wine, promising a wonderful experience. And it delivers. Sure, the fruit is subdued on the palate, but it is also wonderfully balanced by a tartness that carries through to the finish. No, it is not bold, nor boisterous, but a sly beauty that, if given proper attention, will astound. Excellent. 92 Points.
2017 Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Colledila, Italy: Retail $85. B.A.B. 100% Sangiovese. Holy mother of Jesus. I am a fan of Chianti and I am unequivocally a fan of Chianti Classico. I have tasted countless iterations of both and, well, we have a new leader in the clubhouse. I would have to go back and check my notes, but this might be the best Classico that has ever graced these tragically pasty-white lips. Whoa. Rich, rich red berry fruit with touches of eucalyptus and cardamom on the nose which by any measure warrants a “Whoa.” The palate, however, takes that “Whoa” and raises a “Holy Cow” and maybe a “Yowza.” Rich, on the verge of unctuous mouthfeel with ample but reserved fruit, and a mouth-watering tartness that begs the question: “Do I want food or more wine?” (The answer is, of course, a resounding “both!”) Sure, I was dead tired when I opened this bottle and yes, my football team was getting kicked in the teeth, a part of me wanted to see how this would evolve the next day. But. Holy magoly is this good now. So I stayed up, with the intent on finishing it. I could count on perhaps one hand the number of Classicos I see on this pedestal. Whoa. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2017 Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico Riserva, Italy: Retail $30. 90% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. When I first opened this bottle and tried it, I was less than whelmed. I was a bit heavy, a tad oaky, just a bit too much of everything. I was ready to write how this was the first Tre Bicchieri wine that I really did not like. So I waited. The following day? Different ballgame. Dark and a bit brooding fruit on the nose with a healthy dose of black pepper, a bit of anise, one of the darker Classicos I have tried. The palate bears that out: rich, yet reserved fruit, a shot of tartness on the mid palate, and a medium to lengthy finish. Excellent. 92 Points.