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The editor-in-chief of Drinks+ visited the Vatican and was at the center of events organized by Gambero Rosso.
The leading Italian media holding Gambero Rosso once again presented the wines awarded by Tre Bicchieri to Vini d’Italia Guide. “Three glasses” from GR today are quoted as the highest award for Italian winemakers. D+ Editor-in-Chief Olga Pinevich-Todoriuk took part in exclusive events in Rome: a closed vertical tasting of the best of the best Tre Bicchieri Vini d’Italia 2022, an evening meeting of the Gambero Rosso Special Awards Winners 2022 and a two-day Tre Bicchieri 2022 ceremony. Thus, joining the team of wine guide led by Marco Sabellico – one of the most respected wine experts in Italy, editor in chief of Vini d’Italia Guide.
Only the representatives of the selected international wine press were able to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of Roman wine intensity and, I must admit, to the rather exciting work of the Vini d’Italia wine guide team. The reception was sumptuous in all senses of the word. Tiina Eriksson, Director of International Director at Gambero Rosso, commented on the organization of the visit: “We wanted to create an informal atmosphere for the invited international press, make it warm, move away from formalities, show all the details of the team’s work. After all, journalists are special guests, our friends and partners in promoting Gambero Rosso International’s global mission in the world.”
This year, 6 journalists from Ukraine, Japan, Germany, the Czech Republic, Canada and Russia were lucky enough to represent the international wine press. Our “Vacation in Rome” turned out to be so rich and dynamic that the stated concept of Friendly Informal Evenings was very relevant, allowing to discuss all issues, unite with the GR team, understand the nuances and global level of their work and get a special tasting experience. Well, let’s move on to the details.
Exclusive vertical tasting of The Best of The Best: Argiano, Livio Felluga and Guido Berlucchi
We started from the top: the first day was dedicated to the best of the best. I would like to mention the location chosen by Gambero Rosso for this event, which gives a special atmosphere to the journalistic get-together, our hard work, and even the wines. The meeting place was located at the gates of the Vatican Chorus Cafè. Its tall windows overlook the Via della Conciliazione, which connects the Castle of the Holy Angel and the Church of St. Peter, as well as tourists, priests and pilgrims from all over the world. The atmosphere is just breath-taking.
International wine press, including the editor-in-chief of D+, together with the team of Gambero Rosso and Gambero Rosso International, represented by meters – Luigi Salerno (CEO), Paolo Cuccia (president), Marco Sabellico and Gianni Fabrizio (authors, editors and curators of Vini d’Italia), Tiina Eriksson (International Director), Lorenzo Ruggeri (author and international editor), Giuseppe Carrus (author and co-editor of Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia), Michela Ricotta actually went into space that day, tasting the wines of the highest awards for Italian winemakers: Red Wine of the Year 2022, White Wine of the Year 2022, Winery of the Year 2022.
I will keep saying that this is an exclusive vertical tasting, which, as they say, is “neither told in a fairy tale nor described with a pen”, but the profession also requires a pen. So, let’s try to convey a special atmosphere, as well as a layer of various historical events and current philosophy, which influenced the formation of the best households according to the “Red Shrimps”.
Red Wine of the Year 2022. The best red wine Brunello di Montalcino Vigna del Suolo’16 from the Argiano winery – one of the most outstanding locations, without exaggeration – the historical monuments of the Montalcino region. An estate with a unique wine history, dating back about five centuries. In 2012, the estate was acquired by Brazilian businessman André Santos Esteves. Having come a long way of modernizing and improving technology since 2019, Argiano is the first company in Montalcino to abandon plastic, using the technology of complete processing of raw materials at all stages of production. The motto of oenologist Francesco Monari and CEO Bernardino Sani is to have a respectful approach to growing vines in view of the region’s climatic conditions.
In the annotated tasting led by Marco Sabellico, we tasted the Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 1971, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 2006 vintage and the Argiano Brunello di Montalcino Vigna del Soulo 2015 and 2016.
Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 1971 – undergrowth aroma, tertiary notes, wine has almost finished its “wine path”, but balsamic notes give it energy.
Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 1978 – in the aroma, complex tertiary notes, spices, orange and kumquat, the wine still shows a wide fruity profile, pleasant tannins, long aftertaste.
Vigna del Soulo is a unique vineyard located at 320 meters above sea level. The clay soils, rich in fossils, were once the seabed and today are the ideal environment for cultivating the ancient Sangiovese Grosso variety, which gives the wines a spicy acid profile. And the vintage of 2016 is just top class!
Argiano Brunello di Montalcino Vigna del Soulo 2016 – first-class acidity and structure, delicate velvety tannins, ripe cherries in the aroma, rosehip flowers, zest, which gradually turn into tertiary aromas of tobacco, spices.
White Wine of the Year 2022. Rosazzo Terre Alte 2018 from Livio Felluga winery – the best white wine of 2022 and a tasting of one of the most famous, respected and consistently worthy white wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Friulano, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Bianco, which compose Rosazzo Terre Alte, are intertwined, embodying the philosophy of Italian white wines – lightness, drinkability, elegance. It should be noted that the Livio Felluga winery began a qualitative stylistic change of white wines in the mid-70’s, thus convincing the world of wine pros that Italy produces not only strong red but also elegant white wines that have the potential for aging.
A little history. The founder of the winery Livio Felluga came to this region from Istria in the 30s of last century. In the mid-1950s in Brazzano di Cormons, near the Abbey of Rosazzo, he founded the company Livio Felluga. Shortly before his death in 2016, Livio bequeathed to his four children Maurizio, Elda, Andrea and Filippo 180 hectares of vineyards on the outskirts of Rosazzo, as well as the famous wine label. Its story is told in the family: once when he went to an antique shop owned by a friend, Livio Felluga saw an antique map of Friuli. It charmed him, and he bought it, not knowing at the time what to do with it. And only later did he come up with the idea to put the map on wine labels so that buyers could see the area of origin of the grapes.
The connection between the winery and the area is established by the owners in philosophy. In 2008, they signed a contract with the abbey, according to which the family undertook to take care of the building and the surrounding area. By the way, the origin of the building is still shrouded in mystery for centuries, it is known only that the construction was conducted in around 1000 in the Romanesque style and dedicated to St. Peter the Apostle.
Vertical tasting of Livio Felluga Terre Alte wines consisted of 1996, 1998, 2001, 2006, 2011, 2014 vintages, as well as the winning wine Livio Felluga Rosazzo Terre Alte 2018. My impressions are at heart and in the tasting notes.
Terre Alte 2018 – wine rich in aromas of wildflowers, herbs, green apples, sage, a slight hint of cinnamon. A wonderful combination of minerality and freshness. Saturated wine, oily. The aftertaste is light, with special stability.
Terre Alte 2014 – in the aroma, notes of fresh peach, apricot, enveloping, stable taste. The wine is elegant, strong, complex. One of the best vintages in Friuli.
Terre Alte 1998 – a wonderful structure of wine, aromas of yellow dried fruits, long enveloping aftertaste, bright honey notes.
Terre Alte 1996 is a very rare sample that is practically not offered for tasting even at the winery. The first nose – slightly benzene tones, the taste of smoky notes and coffee. Great structure, despite the age.
Winery of the Year 2022. Guido Berlucchi is the story of the classic Italian sparkling wine Franciacorta. The first 3,000 bottles, made in 1961, made the Franciacorta region the cradle of Italian classic sparkling wine. Today, Guido Berlucchi produces 4 million bottles of Franciacorta a year from its 120-hectare vineyards and buys grapes from partners. According to Paolo Ziliani, who runs the company with his brother Arturo (oenologist and managing director) and sister Cristina: “Every seven seconds a bottle of Berlucchi Franciacorta gets uncorked around the world.”
We also discovered a wonderful tasting set Franciacorta Riserva Palazzo Lana Extreme 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004 vintages, and another special exhibit – Riserva di Famiglia Magnum.
Franciacorta Riserva Palazzo Lana Extreme 2009 – intense, rich and complex aroma, produced only from Pinot Noir grapes, aged for at least 7 years. The aroma of spices, fruit syrup, notes of toast, citrus jam, mild, spicy, mineral taste.
Franciacorta Riserva Palazzo Lana Extreme 2007 – very elegant, restrained, fragrant notes of ripe yellow fruits, citrus, honey, pastries. The taste is wonderful, enveloping and refined, with fresh acidity, expressive minerality.
Franciacorta Riserva Palazzo Lana Extreme 2004 – despite its age, sparkling is in great shape. The first nose is a delicate aroma of spices, black currants, then the pulp of yellow fruit, a light note of vanilla. The taste is rich.
This eventful day, dedicated to the best of the best Italian wines of 2022, ended with a wonderful dinner in great company with the main characters of the year – 12 Special Awarded Wineries – award-winning producers, their fantastic wines, great stories and great Roman cuisine in a cozy atmosphere.
No wonder Gambero Rosso chose this location, which has become one of the historical brands of gastronomic Rome. The establishment began as an ancient bakery blessed by the Pope, and already four generations has run a restaurant with traditional Roman cuisine, a luxurious wine cellar and its own Wine Club.
The team of 70 Gambero Rosso tasters heroically evaluated more than 47,000 wines, of which 476 wines were awarded the highest status of Tre Bicchieri, and 1982 wines reached the final and were included in the list of the best according to the 2022 Vini d’Italia guide. In addition, the list of debutants accounted for about 10% of the total number of wines tasted, and at a closed tasting of the best of the best, the main tasters of Gambero Rosso unanimously noted: “In this 35th edition of the Italian Wines Guide, we admired lesser-known regions that have the full right, after our assessment, to go international and present their wines to the world.”
Spicial Awarded Wineries
It should be noted that today the situation with the pandemic, as in all wine regions of the world, has made some adjustments to the activities of small wineries in Italy. During the discussion with GR representatives, it became clear that winemakers have now reconsidered their capabilities, as well as external communications policy, marketing budgets and positively started fighting for the Vini d’Italia 2022 awards with major producers, presenting their brilliant vintages. Judging by the results, Gambero tasters were happy to accept and evaluate newcomers. And indeed, they were appreciated. Of course, the large wine regions of Italy with a large number of producers hold the main pedestals of Vini d’Italia. However, as Marco Sabellico commented on this issue, the Gambero Rosso team is ready to taste wines from small regions, such as Molise or Valle d’Aosta, and award them more prizes.
Even more exciting experience were tastings of Italian indigenous grape varieties. Such as Susumaniello, Timorasso, Ciliegiolo. The official award ceremony and the announcement of 12 special awards were divided into several days. On the first day, Tre Bicchieri Vini d’Italia 2022 from Piedmont, Sicily, Alto Adige, Campania, Marche, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Calabria, Lazio, Liguria, Valle d’Aosta were announced. The second day was dedicated to the awarding of wines from Puglia, Tuscany, Friuli, Abruzzo, Molise, Sardinia, Veneto, Trentino, Umbria, the canton of Ticino.
The opportunity to taste all the awarded wines of the regions (some of them, probably only these days) due to the limited number was provided after the award ceremony. And this was probably the culmination of our visit to Rome: to try new wines from rare local varieties, to meet already known wines and personalities that Drinks+ magazine has written about many times and whose wineries our team visited, enjoying the beauty of ancient Italy, its wine with talented and hospitable winemakers – all these meetings evoked vivid emotions that, together with the image of the Eternal City, will remain with me forever…
Thank you to the team of Gambero Rosso and Gambero Rosso International for the opportunity to participate in such an event relevant to the wine world – Tre Bicchieri Week and the presentation of the wine guide Vini d’Italia 2022!