Tre Bicchieri 2017

If there's one tasting I absolutely, positively go to every year, it's TRE BICCHIERI, organized by Gambero Rosso. It's invaluable to me both as a journalist and as a tour guide. We use it to scout wineries when we're developing a new tour, and to stay abreast of what's new and interesting. As a writer, it's invaluable to me when researching wine stories. 

This year, for instance, my target was Sicilian whites, Soave, and Amarone. (Faced with 198 tables presenting one, two, or maybe three wines, one must have a battle plan. And spit.)

Here's a few quick notes from this year's event—the wines that got a super-big star in my tasting notes.

I'm heading to Soave in a few weeks to research an article. Suavia will definitely be on my list of stops. Their Soave cru from the volcanic turf of Monte Carbonare is an exemplar of just how intense and alluring this much-overlooked wine can be. (Black volcanic rock —> black bottle.) This extremely small third-generation winery  is now run by three sisters. Can't wait to meet them and learn more.

Delighted to finally taste this wine, a Grillo from Tasca d'Almerita. We hike by their vineyard on the isle of Mozia—a tiny island that was a Phoenician settlement and later purchased whole cloth by marsala pioneer Joseph Whitaker, an amateur archaeologist who also created the Phoenician museum there.

Grillo thrives in this flat corner of SW Sicily, and the sea breeze on Mozia no doubt adds to the sapidity in this wine, which nicely backs up its zippy freshness. This is an excellent example of a grape on the rise.

In 2012—my first trip to Valtellina—I spent an entire afternoon and dinner with Nino Negri enologist Casimiro Maule. Such a courtly gentleman! And a tireless supporter of this overlooked region.

5 Stelle Sfursat remains my favorite of their nebbiolo wines. Sfursat takes a lot of work: on top of the demands of extreme viticulture on mountain terraces, it requires just the right conditions to dry the grapes for several months, like an Amarone. The result is sublime.

There were a good number of Amarones present at TreBicchieriNY, but this Begali Amarone Monte Ca' Bianca was one that really hit the mark. Not too sweet, not too dry. Perfectly balanced between richness and drinkability. 

Lorenzo Begali's estate is small (36K bottles) and perhaps not so well known, but they're on my Favorites list now. (Masi's Amarone Reserve Costasera 2011 was another winner in the room.)

Note to self: Stock up on those 2011s when you go to the Amarone region in March!

See the complete list of 2017 Tre Bicchieri wines.