Earlier this month,  Gambero Rosso and hundreds of wineries displayed their latest achievements at the 2015 Tre Bicchieri tasting at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan.   
This was my third consecutive year covering this event and I must say that the wines exceeded the previous years offerings by far.   As a member of the press,  I was able enter the tasting 60 minutes prior to the general public, so I did my best to taste and take advantage of the peace before the crowds assembled.  

In years past,  I approached this tasting by trying to get as many data points as possible in the short time allotted.  This year,  I decided to try a different approach.  I attempted to focus on wines that I felt would be of greatest interest to the majority of readers and also to linger a little longer with each of the wines and winery representatives.  Many of the wines included below were tasted twice.   

With events of this nature, the wines were tasted without food and the pours were very small.   As such, my impressions are somewhat limited and only a range of scores is provided.  Unless otherwise noted, all wines below received the Tre Bicchieri award.

Tre Bicchieri – 2015

Who has heard of Pallagrello Nero?  Don’t be so quick to raise your hand.   Last year was my first introduction to Nanni Cope and it was fabulous.  So this year, it was the first table I visited.  

2012 Nanni Cope Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco:  
This wine is a blend of 90% Pallagrello Nero, 5% Aglianico, and 5% Casavecchia.  With the exception of the Casavecchia, which is pre-phyloxera and over 140 years old,  the vines were planted in 1987.  The wine is aged one year in cask, varying in ages from 1-4 years and then in bottle for 8 months prior to release.   As lovely as the 2011 was, the 2012 is even better.  This is soulful, indigenous, Campanian winemaking at its best.  Glorius amounts of floral red fruits are combined with spices, herbs and anise on the nose and palate.  It’s not that this is a blockbuster, but it’s more elegant and a large portion of the appeal is its uniqueness.  93-96 points.  SRP ~ $75.

~ 2012 Nanni Cope:  Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco ~

2012 Pala Cannonau Riserva:   
It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I sat down and interviewed Pala’s young talented winemaker, Fabio Angius and given his talent, it’s equally hard to believe this is only his 2nd Tre Bicchieri.  
The 2012 Cannonau Riserva is young and brooding.  It’s intensely perfumed with lillies, black plums, smoke and meat.  Flavors are open and follow the nose but a healthy dose of tannin clamps down on the finish. Give this time or try it with game.  Better still than the 2011. 92-94 points and an amazing value at under $30.

~ 100% Cannnonau (Grenache) from Sardinia ~

2010 Boscarelli “Il Nocio” Vino Nobile di Montepulciano:

I first tasted the wines of Boscarelli several years ago at a Slow Wine event and ever since, they’ve been cemented in my mind as one of the best producers of Vino Nobile.  Their single vineyard Sangiovese, Il Nocio,  is named for the gigantic chestnut tree that graces the vineyard, and is aged in Slavonian oak botte for almost 2 years prior to release.

This wine gets better and better the more often I taste it.  Deep garnet red in the glass the aromas are explosive with crushed wild berry, anise, earth and flowers. Flavors mimic the nose with a huge core of fruit taking center stage and everything in balance.  A stunning effort.  Reminds me of Flaccianello.  94-96 points.  My only complaint?  A bottle of this will set you back close to $90. 


~ The 2010 “Il Nocio” is a special, special, Sangiovese ~

2012 Sette Ponti  Crognolo: 

Crognolo gets its name from a wild bush that grows abundantly on the Sette Ponti estate called the “Cornus”.   The wine is now 100% Sangiovese in 2012.   It’s dark violet to purple in the glass with persistent aromas of ripe berries, leather, fresh flowers and piney forest.  In the mouth the wine is balanced, elegant, and polished. Full bodied flavors of coffee, wild berry, and pipe tobacco are long, juicy and fresh.  This is outstanding, but not the most “classical” take on Sangiovese.   Due Bicchieri.  92-95 points, about $30. 

2011 Sette Ponti Oreno:  
When I penned the review of the 2010 at least year’s Gambero Rosso my comments were reserved, even guarded.  Since then,  I have tasted the 2010 many times and it has emerged victoriously and is delicious.  It’s in that spirit that I offer the note on the 2011. 

The 2011 Oreno is a blend of  45% Merlot, 40% Cabernet and 15% Petit Verdot.  It’s deep purple in the glass with aromas of mocha, spice, black fruit and coffee.  I love the smell.  On the palate, the wood needs time to integrate, but owing to my comments above, I believe it will do so.  Flavors follow the nose with good concentration and length. A perennial Tre Bicchieri.  91-94 points.  Price varies crazily on this wine.  I’ve seen it at retail from $40-$125.  Anywhere toward the lower end is a no brainer. 


~ The two offerings from Sette Ponti:  That’s Crognolo in the glass  ~

2011 Cecchi Coevo:

The past is gone and the future doesn’t exist yet.  Time is now.  Coevo, is contemporary.  First created in 2006,  Cecchi’s Coevo is only made in the absolute best vintages and the blend, a contemporaneous portrayal of the current vintage,  changes each year.   This is the 4th Tre Bicchieri for Coevo.   

The 2011 is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 20% Petit Verdot, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet.  The former and latter varieties come from Cecchi’s estate in Castellina and the middle varieties from their estate in Maremma.  The result is a snapshot of the Tuscan vintage across the region.

Coevo is awesome.  It’s fast becoming one of my favorite Tuscans and deserves the accolades it receives.  It’s soulful, complex, rich, ripe and concentrated and although it’s a blend of many grapes, it’s consistently based in a majority of Sangiovese that allows the wine to retain true Tuscan character.   The 2011 is not as backward as the 2010 was at this time last year.  It’s a full bodied wine complete with aromas of leather, black fruit, tobacco, earth and spices.  Flavors follow the nose and the wine is in near perfect balance between fruit, tannin, acid and complexity.  95-97 points. 


2010 Cecchi Riserva di Famiglia Chianti Classico Riserva: 

The 2009 version of this wine received the Tre Bicchieri award. This one, Due Bicchieri, though I can hardly tell the difference.  Coevo aside, this is the Cecchi flagship and is predominantly Sangiovese (90%) with the balance to other red grapes.  Hailing from Castellina, the wine is dark garnet with aromas and flavors of crushed berries, leather and flowers. Fresh, lively and concentrated – this is outstanding.  92-94 points.


~ Two amazing wines from Cecchi.  That’s Coevo in the glass ~

After some palate cleansing cheese, bread and water,  I spied a tiny table pouring but a single wine and when I recognized the label,  I darted.  

2008 Oddero Barolo Riserva Bussia Vigna Mondoca:
This Barolo Riserva, from one of the regions classic houses, is not only from the single vineyard Bussia, but also from a subset of that vineyard.  As you then might suspect, production is tiny; the rep. told me only 1,000 six bottle cases.  

This wine blew me away.  It’s dark ruby with a slightly orange rim fade.  The aromas are spellbinding and feature ripe strawberry, mint, leather, crushed stones, and flowers.  On the palate the wine is superb with focused red fruit flavors, exotic spice, fennel, leather and mineral.  It’s silky already.  I’d break the bank for this one.  97-99 points.  About $130-$140 retail. 

~ You can just see the fade around the rim of the bowl in this photo ~

2011 Piaggia Carmignano Riserva:  

This estate has been on my radar for some time and the fact that they seem to produce a Tre Bicchieri each year – though a different wine each time – speaks to the level of quality at the estate. Emiliano Falsini continues the consulting relationship and they are the best producer in Carmignano right now.  Period.

The 2011 is a wonderful blend of 70% Sangiovese with the balance to Cabernet, Cabernet franc, and Merlot in varying proportions.  Alluring, ripe and seductive, this is polished and lively with crushed wild cherry, minerals, flowers and spices on the nose and palate.  Long and refined with excellent structure. In relation to other “Super Tuscans”  this is an insane value.  93-95 points.  Retails around $33.  

~ Owner Silvia Vannucci presented the wine ~

2011 Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano:  

Vino Nobile is on a roll right now.  The quality from this appellation, sometimes derided as “Brunello’s Step Brother”, has never been better.  These are serious wines that lovers of Sangiovese need to consider;  especially given the fact that in many cases, they retail for less than your typical Brunello.

I couldn’t wait to broadcast my love for this wine given the value that it is. Riccardo Cotarella is now the winemaker and he is elevating the quality rapidly.  I posted a full review on it, with dinner, last week.   93 points.  About $18 and a potential case buy.
~ See my full review from last week.  This wine is a stunner ~

~ Luca Sanjust, Proprietor Fattoria Petrolo ~
“Making great wines is a complex undertaking, a coincidence of circumstances is needed including special microclimatic conditions, keen awareness, caring work in the cellar and finally a good dose of luck.”  

Petrolo is making its own luck.  I spent 15 or 20 minutes chatting with Luca Sanjust, a humble slight man who is proud of his wine and equally gracious in receiving compliments. We talked about his love of 2011 – how everything went perfectly at Petrolo – and even what a wonderful value his Sangiovese, Torrione has become.  
Petrolo has recently changed winemakers and although I am not concerned about a drop off in quality, it bears watching.

The 2011 Fattoria Petrolo Galatrona: 
Galatrona is 100% Merlot and the 2011 is one of the best examples I’ve ever tasted. It’s dark purple and although it’s aged in French oak, the balance is impeccable.  Blackberry, blueberry, mocha, coffee and spice are evident on the nose and palate. Classy, juicy, and long.  This is to die for.  95-99 points.  About $90.  


~ An absolutely gorgeous Merlot ~
2012 Falesco Montiano:  

It’s almost easier trying to remember when Montiano wasn’t a Tre Bicchieri selection.  The family owned winery of the Cotarellas, this is the result of Riccardo Cotarella and his brother Renzo – who also happens to be the winemaker for Antinori. Not a bad tandem. 

Montiano is pure Merlot from the hills outside of Rome in the province of Lazio.  Dark purple in color, the wine has bountiful aromas of blackberry, mocha, leather and spice.  Elegant, ripe and delicious, the flavors mirror the nose with wonderful class and persistence. Could use 2-3 years to shed some tannin but the last two vintages of this wine have been spectacular.  And the value is there too!  93-95 points.  About $35 retail.

~ 100% Merlot from Lazio ~

2009 Fattoria Pietroso Brunello di Montalcino:  

As I and many have documented,  the 2009 Brunello harvest was difficult for many estates primarily due to the excessive heat of the vintage that ripened the Sangiovese almost to an extreme level.  As a result, you’re not seeing too many 2009 Tre Bicchieri awarded to Brunello.  This one clearly deserves it. 

Fattoria Pietroso is a tiny farm situated only 500 meters from the center of Montalcino.  It’s a family operation and production is only 1,000 cases per year.  The 2009 was aged in a combination of various size oak containers averaging 30 hectoliters in size.  

The 2009 Brunello may be the freshest wine I’ve tasted from the vintage.  It’s a medium ruby, but with that classic fade to copper/iodine out at the rim of the bowl.  The aromas are fresh and vibrant with flowers, tobacco, sage, and crushed berry.  Flavors are precise and elegant and don’t at all seem overripe. This is an excellent Brunello.  92-94 points.  Price NA.   

~ One of the freshest 2009 Brunello I’ve tasted ~


2011 Poggio Bonelli Poggiassai:  

This was a new wine for me and it was presented by the Marketing Director, Lorenzo Ficini.  Poggio Bonelli is midway between Vagliagli and Castelnuovo Berardenga in the heart of Chianti Classico. Having recently stayed in Vagliagli, that piqued my interest straight away.  Poggiassai is a blend of 75% Sangiovese and 25% Cabernet – a typical Super Tuscan marriage. Aging takes place for 18 months in French barrique followed by 6 months in bottle.  

The 2011 has a dark garnet color.  Flavors and aromas of ripe cherry, licorice, menthol and spice are noticeable on the nose and palate.  Straight forward, well made, but in a bland rather than an exciting style.  I’m not sure why I felt that way but I sensed the entire time tasting this that something was missing.  90-93 points.  Price: NA
~ Poggiassai is 75% Sangiovese and 25% Cabernet from Castelnuovo Berardenga ~ 

Towering, even among the Dolomites. 

2008 Tenuta San Leonardo:

The estate of San Leonardo sits in Trentino, high atop the plains where the Dolomites begin their rise.  The estate is 300 hectares but only 25 are planted with vines.  Marchese Carlo Guerrieri Gonzaga was on hand to present and discuss the wine; a perennial Tre Biccheri winner.  

When Carlo handed the man tasting before  me his business card, the schmuck looked at it and said: “wow, that’s some really long name.”  Carlo just smiled. I’m thinking, what a douche.  Anyway…



Inspired by Bordeaux and Sassicaia, San Leonardo is a blend of Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Carmenere.  It’s a deep garnet color and has wonderful perfumes of cassis, graphite, mint, and spices. Flavors follow the nose.  The wine is aged in new and used barrique, but this is elegant and long on the finish.  Really special.  95-98 points. Not crazy expensive given the company it competes against, i.e. Sassicaia, etc.  Retail is about $75.

~ 2008 is the most recent release of San Leonardo ~


The next stop featured another late release in the form of a benchmark Barolo Riserva.  

~ The affable Luca Currado was on hand to present his wines ~

2007 Vietti Barolo Riserva “Villero”: 

I spent quite some time chatting with Luca Currado and discussing the wines he was presenting.  It was actually a bit surprising given that the Villero was the “Red Wine of the Year” – but it didn’t seem to be garnering as much interest as I would have thought.  

The Villero Riserva is stunning.  It’s a crimson red with brick highlights throughout.  It’s got such an amazing nose of chestnut, cherry, spices, flowers, tar and rocks – it’s open and expressive.  On the palate it’s all silk.  You can sense the tannins, but they are so fine and ripe.  Flavors are concentrated and full bodied.  I didn’t write a single descriptor for the palate other than “wow”.   What a wine.  95-100 points.   Retail is not for the faint of heart and will likely be close to $300 upon release. 

~ Vietti Single Vineyard Riserva Barolo – “Villero”

2011 Vietti Barolo Brunate: 

This is a wine I’ve had many times in previous vintages and although I find Brunate to be more muscular and powerful generally, this was fairly elegant already.  As you can see from the picture, it’s not even bottled yet. These were samples hastily brought along by Luca.  It’s still a darker garnet color and has very muted aromas of red fruits, anise and spice.  It’s tannic on the palate and needs time to come together but appears to have the pieces to do so very well.  90-94 points.  Price, NA (Not yet Tre Biccheri)

~ I love the makeshift labels ~
2009 Antonelli Sagrantino di Montefalco: 

Fiippo Antonelli is about as quiet, unassuming and humble as they come.  He was all alone at his table but as I’ve loved his wine for years, I know the quality.  It was once again, a pleasure to chat and taste with him. 

The 2009 Sagrantino is surprisingly seductive.  It’s dark garnet red – almost black – but unlike some of the other young Sagrantino which can be almost unwieldy to taste, this is smooth, juicy and elegant.  Lots of cherry, smoke, fennel and grilled meat character on both the nose and palate.  Tannic, but not as much as one associates with Sagrantino.  This is very delicious and an excellent value around $35.  92-95 points.  
~ Antonelli ages his wine in a combination of Slavonian and French oak ~
Just when I thought things couldn’t get more interesting……..
2011 Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano “Asinone”:  

This is a 100% Sangiovese from a single vineyard of the same name with full western exposure and an altitude rising up to 400 meters above sea level.  The majority of the vineyard was planted in 1961 but small expansions have occurred since.  In total, the vineyard is about 12 hectares.  Vinified in stainless steel, the wine is aged in a combination of French barrique and tonneaux for up to 18 months. 

The 2011 Poliziano Asinone Vino Nobile is simply stunning. There is no other way to say it.  It’s a deep ruby with violet highlights. The aromas are somewhat reticent now, but the cherry, tobacco and spices are noticeable.  It’s on the palate where this wine is most compelling. Full bodied and rich, with juicy acids, silky ripe tannins and a long finish.  Berries, anise, cured meat, minerals and earth are absolutely breathtaking

~ Single Vineyard Prugnolo Gentile from Montepulciano ~
After my extensive Feature Article on Capezzana earlier this year,  I was excited to taste their current offerings and revisit some of the bottles previously tasted.

2010 Villa di Capezzana Carmignano:

I loved the 2009 for it’s ripe forward fruit and richness.  This 2010 reminds me of some of the other more structured reds from the vintage and it needs some time.  Deep ruby, it’s got dried herb, dark fruit and spice aromas and flavors.  Medium to full bodied, it fell a bit short of the competition which may not be fair in this company.  Due Biccheri.  89-91 points.  About $24.

~ 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet ~

The 2008 Carmignano Riserva, Trefiano is an excellent wine in the difficult 2008 vintage.  I reported on it in my feature linked above and I stand by that note.  Lots of floral aromatics and more of a red fruit profile given the Canaiolo inclusion. Very elegant and ready to drink.  A great bottle, though maybe a bit pricey.  90-93 points.  SRP ~ $50.  Due Bicchieri.

~ This Carmignano includes 10% Canaiolo in the blend at the expense of Sangiovese ~

Not to be disrespectful to the two previous wines,  but the final wine of this report – and the last wine I tasted that day – was the reason I stopped at the Capezzana table. 


2007 Vin Santo Riserva:  There’s no beating around the bush here.  This is special nectar.  Deep golden color – like maple syrup.  Aromas of nuts, figs, brown sugar, maple syrup, and orange zest provide a foil I could smell for hours.  It’s as enjoyable to smell as it is to drink.  It is stunning.  

On the palate the wine is rich and fresh.  It’s loaded with flavors of creme brulee, caramelized sugar, honey, maple notes, hazelnut, orange zest, flowers and honeysuckle.  Bright, focused, and lively with acidity, there is nothing cloying here yet the wine coats your palate for minutes.  Is it better than the 2006?   Yes.  100 points.  Retail is about $60 for a 375ml bottle.  Buy all you can. Tre Bicchieri. 

~ Only Avignonesi does it better – but not this time.  100 points.  ~


Clearly a banner day for the 2015 Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri.  As I said at the outset, the wines were all very impressive.  Make room in your cellars for some of these wines.  You will not be disappointed and they’ll enable you to drink well for years to come. 

Stay tuned for more coverage of Trade tastings coming soon:  Benvenuto Brunello and Slow Wine VinItaly.  

Salute!





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