Gambero Rosso roadshow

(Marco Sabellico & moi)

I was fascinated to be involved in the Gambero Rosso Roadshow in Sydney recently with senior editor of the leading Italian wine guide, Marco Sabellico. We co-hosted two masterclasses focusing on tre bicchieri (three wineglasses, the maximum) rated wines from the 2015 edition of the Gambero Rosso Italian Wines guide, the 29th edition of this ‘bible’. 

Most of the wines were very good to outstanding in my view, but several were, I thought, a bit ordinary – some of the lambruscos and glera (proseccos), as well as a Grave del Friuli pinot bianco. I suspected, and Marco confirmed, that the guide’s editors take the view that the best examples of any variety or appellation should be worthy of three glasses, even if (like the wines mentioned) they are quite simple wines. 

It would be fun to be a fly on the wall while the editors are arguing about the merits of wines – there are 70 tasters who blind-tasted 40,000 wines for the 2015 guide, whittling them down to 20,000 wines rated, from 2,402 producers. Tre bicchieri awards went to 423 wines, or a little over 1% of wines tasted.
Highlights for me were two outstanding dry whites made from – wait for it – trebbiano! But this is trebbiano di Lugana, a special sub-variety whose local name is turbiana. 

The 2013 Provenza Ca’ Maiol Lugana Molin from near Lake Garda, Lombardy, was a beautiful, enchanting wine: floral/gardenia-like, spicy fragrance with a trace of honey introducing an intense, profound and complex palate. 95 points from me. (Importer: Euro Concepts) And the 2012 Ottella Lugana Molceo Riserva was rich, penetrating and powerful, with a scarcely visible touch of barrel fermentation (and some malolactic), flowers and honey again, and a surprising 14.5% alcohol – which mercifully didn’t show. 94 points. (Importer: Single Vineyard Sellers)

But my favourite white wine of the entire day was Cantina Nals Margreid (tastings) Sirmian Pinot Bianco 2013, from Alto Adige. From high altitude (400 metres), this showed a stony minerally character as well as restrained fruity notes, and was supremely delicate yet mouth-filling, with superb tightness and finesse. An earlier vintage was voted the Guide’s white wine of the year, and I’m not surprised. 96 points. ($56 retail. Importer: Combined Wines & Foods)

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