Mama mia- Italy boasts in excess of 500 different grape varieties. As Australians this can make ordering Italian wines a tad confusing, especially when most people’s knowledge only extends to Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and the like. But thankfully the team from Gambero Rosso are here to the rescue.
Gambero Rosso publish Italian wine guides. It all started as a simple supplement of a few pages that was printed in a daily newspaper in Rome back in 1986. By 1988 the first compendium was published and in 1997 the first English edition was printed. The guide has gone from strength-to-strength and now employs some 60 expert blind tasters who visit 2402 Italian wineries to sample 22,000 wines for the volume.
The team from Gambero Rosso also hold events and have recently embarked on a world tour named, “Tre Bicchieri” or “Three Glasses”, which will visit Japan, China, Germany, London and America. It is named after the highest rating offered in the guide. The wines are assigned scores of one glass for good, two for very good and three for exceptional or extraordinary.
In addition to Gambero Rosso’s ratings, the Italian government also has its own unique classifications like DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) for wines with controlled production methods and vineyards that grow grapes in protected geographical spots. DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) is the highest grade and guarantees the quality of the DOC score. The system is modelled on the French food and wine system.
The Sydney event saw representatives from industry and members of the press sampling wines from eight distinct Italian regions including: Veneto, Sicily, Lombardy, Tuscany, Trentino, Marche, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Puglia. There were over 40 different wines to sample including sparking and traditional whites, reds and rosés. It was interesting to talk to representatives from different vineyards and learn more about their different wines and grapes.
This event also included a masterclass with more sampling which included four sparkling wines like the floral and refreshing Valdobbiadene Brut Prior 2015 and the complex Franciacorta Extra Brut 2009 with its complex taste and aromatic herb notes. The Trento Brut Altemasi Graal Ris. 2008 was more acidic but the Franciacorta Brut Rosé had a longer-lasting finish.
The Pieropan family own one of the oldest wineries and they use very mature grapes that are aged in a barrel for 18 months. Their Soave Cl. La Rocca 2013. was a surprisingly light drop and the same could be said about the FCO Pinot Bianco Myò 2014 with its floral scent reminiscent of daisies and gooseberries. If the former was all sugar then the following Braide Alte 2013 was the spice and all things nice with its blend of different drops including Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The Primitivo di Manduria Talò is something you’d have difficulty finding in our local hotels but it had a rich taste and a sweet finish. This made the Amarone della Valpolicella Cl. 2011 seem quite earthy and structured in comparison.
The Tre Bicchieri wine tasting and masterclass event was an educational and informative session about Italian wines for trade and industry. The guide is considered the bible of Italian wines and for good reason. The book – like the exhibitors – helped showcase the best elements of Italian wines and celebrate all of the unique grape varieties and drops in all of their finery.
For more information on Gambero Rosso’s Italian Wine Guide and the Tre Bicchieri world tour please visit: http://www.gamberorosso.it/it/eventi-internazionali
– Natalie Salvo