Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri 2010 to be held in Chicago for the first time

For the first time, Chicago will be host to the annual Tre Bicchieri tasting held by the Italian wine publication, Gambero Rosso. The Tre Bicchieri award is reserved for the best wines of the year; for the 2010 edition, the publication selected 391 wines as worthy of that award from a total of more than 16,000 wines from across the country.

The trade-only tasting will be held on Friday, February 26, from 12:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at 210 S. Canal.

—Tom Hyland

Chicago-based wine writer and VinoWire contributor Tom Hyland is the author of the popular Italian wine education newsletter and blog Learn Italian Wines. At his personal wine blog, Reflections on Wine, he recently posted on “Gambero Rosso’s Quirks.”

Wine humor: an Italian wine walks into Wine Spectator’s top 100 list…

VinoWire editor Franco Ziliani is the author of Vino al Vino, Italy’s top wine blog, where the following editorial appeared yesterday in Italian (translation by VinoWire).

franco zilianiTimes are tough and we all need something to laugh about now and then.

So just sit back and relax because I have a wine joke I’d like to tell you.

The subject is the same one from years past. And it always makes us laugh or at least chuckle since it’s guaranteed to be humorous (just like Berlusconi and his antics). I’m referring to The Wine Spectator’sTop 100: a list of the supposed (I don’t know what else to call them) best, most relevant, and most important wines of the year. The list, as the editors of The Wine Spectator tell it, is based “on quality, value, availability, and excitement.”

The list is supposed to be a classification of wines “not to be missed,” according to the magazine’s editors. It just went online but you have to be a subscriber to view it (and, for the record, I subscribe to the online edition of the magazine, for the occasional laugh)

I’m not here to tell you the wine chosen by The Wine Spectator as the best wine of the year. After all, who really cares? I would, however, like to entertain you with the showing of Team Italy, made up of 19 wines, which, according to the editors, represent the best of our enological output.

Before addressing the list, I’d like you to consider some numbers: of the 19 wines selected, one is Friulian (produced by a winery whose enologist is one of the magazine’s favorites), one is Tyrolean, two are Piedmontese (two bottlings of 2005 Barolo), and no less than 15 are Tuscan, with three bottlings of 2004 Brunello di Montalcino, two Chianti Classico, and nine historic Super Tuscans (of these, two could be labeled as Chianti Classico, Flaccianello della Pieve and Fontalloro), and nine “new” Syrah-based blends or wines made from Sangiovese blended with French grape varieties.

Here they are, for your reading pleasure and genuine entertainment, the top Italian wines according to The Wine Spectator:

5 Chianti Classico 2006 Castello di Brolio
7 Barolo Marcenasco 2005 Ratti
8 Flaccianello della Pieve 2006 Fontodi
10 Toscana Tre 2007 Brancaia
11 Brunello di Montalcino 2004 Poggio il Castellare
13 Fontalloro 2006 Fattoria di Felsina
15 Brunello di Montalcino Castelgiocondo 2004 Marchesi Frescobaldi
16 Brunello di Montalcino 2004 Uccelliera
27 Giorgio Primo 2007 La Massa
30 Crognolo 2007 Sette Ponti
35 Chianti Classico Riserva 2006 Viticcio
37 Torrione 2007 Petrolo
46 Bolgheri Greppicante 2007 I Greppi
49 Syrah Cortona Il Bosco 2006 Tenimenti D’Alessandro
61 Toscana Monte Antico 2006
70 Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2008 Cantina San Michele Appiano
79 Collio Pinot Grigio 2008 Livio Felluga
80 Non Confunditur Toscana 2007 Argiano
81 Barolo Carobric 2005 Enrico Scavino

The editors assure us that this year, in the light of the economic crisis, they have tried to focus on economically priced wines. What can we say about this list? It surely represents the umpteenth “masterpiece” of a magazine taken seriously only by those who don’t understand anything about wine — a magazine enjoyed solely by xenophiles and provincials who believe that these wines must be trendy and glamorous since “the Americans” say so.

For politeness’s sake, let’s just say that James “Giacomino” Suckling still loves his friends (since he has included no fewer than two wineries located in the province of Arezzo where he resides, Torrione and Sette Ponti, the latter a very good friend of his). Nor are the magazine’s historic friends missing: Marchesi Frescobaldi appears with its 2004 Brunello Castelgiocondo, a wine that neither I nor others find exactly irresistible, and Baron Ricasoli, with his 2006 Chianti Classico, which received 96 points out of 100, with 6,170 cases made, sold at $54 a bottle in America, occupying the fifth place in the gladiatory of the best Italian wines have to offer.

At the same rate, the editors bestow well-deserved praise on the 2004 Brunello by Uccelliera and they pay homage to the ability of Felsina and Fontodi (and their enologist Franco Bernabei) to produce well-made wines that regularly appeal to the magazine’s tastes (one of Italy’s best-kept secrets).

The fact that Renato (Pietro) Ratti’s Barolo Marcenasco (a good wine, nonetheless) is the top Barolo (at seventh place), accompanied solely by Enrico Scavino’s Barolo Carobric, is self-explanatory and gives us another reason not to take seriously the umpteenth example of The Wine Spectator’s lampoonery.

Let’s just let Suckling and his cronies continue to believe that the nobility of Italian wine is owed to these wines (whether it’s a Greppicante, a Greppicaia, or a international-style Chianti Classico made in the Ferrini fashion). Now that we’ve had our laugh over a little wine humor, we can search for truth, emotion, and pleasure in plenty of other Italian wines.

—Franco Ziliani

Benvenuto Brunello 2010 to be held in Chicago and New York

According to a post by Montalcino Report, Chicago has been chosen as the second U.S. city for the 2010 edition of Benvenuto Brunello. The Chicago tasting is scheduled for February 1 and will be part of a larger program devoted to the wines of Vino Nobile di Montepuliciano, Chianti Classico, and Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene. The New York tasting will be held on February 4 in conjunction with Vino 2010.

Luciano Pignataro, Slow Food southern tasting coordinator: “producers will determine which wines we taste”

Luciano Pignataro, one of Italy’s leading experts in southern Italian wines and editor of an eponymous award-winning Italian- and English-language blog devoted to the wines of Italy’s south, will join the staff of the newly christened Slow Food guide to Italian wines as its Campania, Basilicata, and Calabria coordinator, beginning with the 2010 edition (the 2009 edition of the guide is the first to appear following the publisher’s “divorce” from Gambero Rosso in 2008).

“Now that we’ve buried the age-old ideological differences between right and left,” said Pignataro in an interview posted today by VinoWire editor Franco Ziliani on his blog Vino al Vino, “the fundamental issue for the future is the question of the environment and the struggle to protect biodiversity in all of its aspects, from the cultural to the artisanal.” The “spirit” of the new guide is what “won me over,” explained Pignataro. “It is based on viticulture. Ample coverage will be given to growing practices and the wines we taste will be determined by the producers’s selections. In other words, the guide is going to be about wineries and not bottles. This is a new approach that frees me from the liturgy that was developed in the 1990s.”