Monday, February 28, 2011

Raise a Glass… or Three!

One of the most anticipated tastings of the year was held at Fort Mason in San Francisco last week. The showcase of many of Italy’s finest wines known as Tre Bicchieri had buyers, restaurateurs, media and wine lovers roaming the sprawling event hall on the Bay with glasses in hand. The 150+ wineries in attendance had to have met a critical criterion in order to be invited to pour: a tre bicchieri (“three glass”) rating, the highest review possible from Gambero Rosso, Italy’s most influential wine publication. There aren’t many shaggy dogs in the room on that basis.

What separates this event from standard tastings – in addition to the pre-screened quality – is this sheer breadth of regions that are covered. Of course the usual suspects are there in full force, but dozens of obscure appellations and varietals are available to taste as well. Nerello Mascalese from the slopes of Sicily’s Mount Etna? Yep. Gewürztraminer grown in the shadow of the Alps? Also, yes. The list is endless. It is a truly astounding lineup that basically allows the ambitious taster the opportunity to traverse the entire country in a few hours. Some of the wineries in attendance don’t even have U.S. importers, so one is able to sample wines that would otherwise require a passport stamp.
I know of no other one-day event in the U.S. that provides such quality at every turn.

They’ve scaled back the tasting over the last few years to three cities: San Francisco, Chicago and New York. If you live or happen to be near one of these hubs when next year’s road trip commences, I’d highly recommend wrangling a ticket. For Italian wine lovers, this gig is a must.

--Rhett Gadke, Wine Director

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