Italian Wines guide: the 33rd edition
33 years of Italian Wines. It’s an important milestone if you consider all the tasting, sorting and scoring that’s been carried out over the past three decades. Over the years more than 300 collaborators have participated in an encyclopedia that’s documented about half a million wines, making it an extremely important resource for laying out the modern history of Italian wine. What makes this enormous reference so unique is the fact that every wine has been reviewed and scored. Gambero Rosso, from its beginnings, adopted a scoring system that has become a benchmark for Italy and the world, for consumers and specialists in the field.
Italian Wines guide: tasting criteria
It’s a simple system, easy to interpret, though together with the tasting notes provided, it captures the complexity of our peninsula’s wine industry. In the past we’ve laid out our tasting criteria, which treats the intrinsic characteristics of each wine as just as important as its overall pleasantness, so it’s not necessary to do so again here. We’d just like to emphasize one thing. This year we evaluated something in the way of 45,000 wines, but in the guide you’ll only find about 22,000. It’s an important statistic. Half of the wines tasted don’t make it into the guide! As a result, just being listed is an achievement in itself.
Tre Bicchieri 2020
About 2,300 wines made it into our final round of tastings, the best of our regional commissions. These are our national elite, wines capable of representing the diversity, uniqueness and beauty of our vineyards. Among them 457 earned our highest honors, but it’s important to remember that the difference between Tre Bicchieri and a mere finalist (Due Bicchieri in red) is truly small, a question of nuance and interpretation. Such statistics are even more striking if we consider that, despite the growing number of producers that partecipate in our tastings, and the increased number of wines tasted in recent years, the size of the guide has remained virtually the same. It follows that our criteria have become increasingly rigorous, especially in light of how much quality has grown of late — and continues to grow — throughout the country.
Wine industry in 2019
After a year of tastings, of trips and visits to wineries, we’ve got a snapshot of an industry in perfect health, one that’s working to more fully express the unique identity of each terroir, and doing it through a truly fascinating variety of styles and philosophies. From reduced fermentation to the use of amphoras (increasingly common in Italian cellars), the rediscovery of concrete as an apt material for fermentation and aging, the rise of steel and computerized systems, the use of all types and sizes of barrels (with a constant and overall decline in the use of new barriques), nothing’s missing in our wineries. And for that we’re happy. There’s no single recipe for producing quality wine, we’ve always said it — each producer just has to find its own direction.
The environmental awareness
Finally, it’s important to underline that in every region and every district, producers have come to understand the complexity of the relationship between grower and environment. Estates are increasingly going organic and biodynamic, and there’s a general focus on ecology (which we’ve always championed) that’s resulting in an increasingly ‘green’, sustainable industry — environmentally, economically and socially. And this 33rd edition of our guide will be soon available also in English, German, Chinese and Japanese, testifying to a potentially unequalled commitment to raising global awareness about Italian wine.
Italian Wines: an international guide
Being in Gambero Rosso’s Italian Wines, and receiving Tre Bicchieri, is by now a universal ‘benchmark’, an obligatory achievement that continues to favor Italian wines across the globe. We’d add that every year we’re part of more than 50 international events, in both established and emerging markets, telling the stories of Italian wines both big and small, as well as their artificers. We meet with consumers, the press, sommeliers, importers and distributers. Our team has managed to build an important instrument for a fundamental part of our economy, one that has earned undisputed international credibility and consensus, and of this we’re truly proud.
Our special awards are a snapshot of our vision of Italian wine, as well as a summary of the work done over the course of a year. Our ‘Red of the Year’ is Piaggia’s Carmignano Riserva ’16, an extremely elegant wine that’s performed at the heights of excellence for some time now. Our ‘White of the Year’ is Lunae Bosoni’s Colli di Luni Vermentino Etichetta Nera ’18, forged by a tight-knit family of passionate winemakers. Our ‘Sparkler of the Year’ award goes to Sorelle Bronaca’s Conegliano Valdobbiadene Brut Nature Particella 232 ’18, a highly elegant blend made possible by a strong focus on the territory, underlining the success of Treviso’s wine in a year in which it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our ‘Sweet of the Year’ comes from Trentino, it’s Cantina di Toblino’s Vino Santo ’03, a small gem that represents an endangered typology (sweet, meditation wines). Torre dei Beati’s Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Rosa-ae ’18 takes home our ‘Rosé of the Year’ award. For 20 years this outstanding rosé, an increasingly popular and acclaimed typology, has been made with dedication and passion by winemakers Adriana Galasso and Fausto Albanesi. Our ‘Winery of the Year’ is Florence’s Frescobaldi, a 700-year-old dynasty that has of late seen an exceptional growth in quality across all their estates.
Our ‘Best Value for Money’ is Pico Maccario’s Barbera d’Asti Lavignone ’18, an excellent wine available at an accessible price, and that does a nice job representing a great terroir. Our ‘Grower of the Year’ is Leopardo Felici, a true vigneron capable of interpreting every nuance of his land, Castelli di Jesi. Our ‘Up-and-Coming Winery’ award goes to Piedmont’s Tenuta Santa Caterina, which debuts in the Tre Bicchieri club with a superb Grignolino d’Asti M ’13. Once again a Puglia winery earns our ‘Award for Sustainable Viticulture’. In addition to producing excellent wines for some years now, Cantina Produttori di Manduria is involved in an ambitious, certified sustainability project. Finally, our ‘Solidarity Award’ goes to the Sicilian Centopassi, the viticultural wing of Don Ciotti’s Libera, which brings together various cooperatives to oversee land and vineyards confiscated from the mafia. Their wines are delicious, especially so when you think of the positive message behind them. You’ll also find our Tre Bicchieri Verdi in green, those wines made by certified organic or biodynamic producers (some 121 this year). Finally, we also make note of those wines awarded that can be bought for €15 or less (84 in all, 20% of the wines awarded).
Special Awards 2020
RED OF THE YEAR PIAGGIA - CARMIGNANO RIS. ’16
WHITE OF THE YEAR LUNAE BOSONI - COLLI DI LUNI VERMENTINO LUNAE ET. NERA ’18
SPARKLER OF THE YEAR SORELLE BRONCA VALDOBBIADENE BRUT NATURE PARTICELLA 232 ’18
SWEET OF THE YEAR TOBLINO - TRENTINO VINO SANTO ’03
ROSÈ OF THE YEAR TORRE DEI BEATI - CERASUOLO D’ABRUZZO ROSA-AE ’18 WINERY OF THE YEAR
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY
PICO MACCARIO - BARBERA D’ASTI LAVIGNONE ’18
GROWER OF THE YEAR
TENUTA SANTA CATERINA
AWARD FOR SUSTAINABLE VITICULTURE
PRODUTTORI DI MANDURIA
SOLIDARITY AWARD CENTOPASSI
by Gianni Fabrizio and Marco Sabellico