A toast to Italy’s best tasting wines 

Italy’s premier wine publication, the Gambero Rosso, traipses out the wines that received its highest rating on an international dog-and-pony show. Although many of the wines are overoaked and formulaic, there are always gems.

Ruggeri’s Giustino Bisol Prosecco, 2010 ($25), was a fabulous way to start this year’s tasting of wines that received the “Tre Biccheri,” or three glasses. Aromatic and fresh with a long, crisp, almondlike finish, it is a reasonable, high-quality alternative sparkling wine.

Moving to white wines, Livon Braide Alte Bianco, 2009 ($45), from Friuli is difficult to find, but worth the hunt. Made from chardonnay, sauvignon, picolit and yellow muscat, it is floral, minerally and intense. In Liguria, Cantine Lunae Bosoni’s Colli di Luni Vermentino Etichetta Nero, 2010 ($20), is an absolute joy. Brimming with peach, grapefruit, apples and minerals, it has sensational balance and length. The other white wine standout was Gioacchino Garofoli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Riserva, 2006 ($40), a fragrant wine that gives proof to the fact that verdicchio can age.

On the red wine front, there are always the Amarones that year after year make it into this elite group. Top among them is Brigaldara’s Case Vecie, 2007 ($60), laden with spice, chocolate, tobacco and black cherries, which may have been the best wine of the entire tasting. Monte del Fra Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Scarnocchio Tenuta Lena di Mezzo Riserva, 2006 ($60), only received two “glasses,” but I thought it was one of the more memorable wines.

In Piedmont, Ettore Germano Barolo Cerretta, 2007 ($60), is a terrific wine that straddles the border between the classic and modern styles often at war in that appellation. Braida Barbera d’Asti Bricco dell’Uccellone, 2009 ($60), one of the earliest barrique-aged barberas, triumphs once again. Filled with red currants, tea leaves, toast, cocoa and brilliant acidity, I can’t wait to try it in five years when it has fully integrated.

Tuscany rendered two standouts, Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino, 2006 ($65), and Felsina’s Maestro Raro, 2008 ($50). The latter is made entirely of cabernet sauvignon and has the grape’s herbal notes intertwined with Chianti’s tobacco and acidity. The Brunello has a way to go, but is pretty generous at the moment, offering spice, tobacco, currants, dried morels and approachable tannins.

Keep Torrevento Castel del Monte Rosso Vigna Pedale Riserva from 2008 on your radar. It is not imported yet, but I’m sure it is just a matter of time.

While most of these are expensive, the quality justifies the price. That can’t be said of all the wines in the tasting, which is why these are my top picks.

Pamela Busch was the founding partner of Hayes and Vine and CAV Wine Bars, and is a wine educator and writer.

About The Author

Pamela S. Busch

Pamela Busch has been working in the wine industry since 1990 as a writer, educator and consultant and co-founded Hayes & Vine Wine Bar and Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen. In 2013, she launched TheVinguard.com.
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