‘Three glasses’ to Italy’s finest

With a plethora of Italian wines available in Kolkata, it could be an extremely perplexing task to choose the right wine. I’ve been fortunate enough to have tasted nearly all the Italian wines that are available in Kolkata. But the opportunity to taste this year’s top Italian wines in Verona was one that I could not afford to miss. On an invitation, I made the trip to Verona, to this year’s tasting of the Tre Bicchieri wines conducted by Gambero Rosso, the Bible of Italian wines. Gambero Rosso is to wines what the Michelin Guide is to food in France. The Gambero Rosso tastes all wines made in Italy and then grades them in three categories. The top wines are awarded the coveted Tre Bicchieri (three glasses). Of more than 45,000 wines that were tasted by the team this year, only a handful — 415 — made top grade. Gambero Rosso has been grading Italian wines for nearly three decades, and so has an enviable reputation. All the wines were available for tasting at a special event organized by Gambero Rosso for a selected number of people from across the world. It was a truly enriching experience to taste some of Italy’s best wines, with many wine writers and aficionados from across the globe for company. There was representation from all DOCG (Denominazione di origine controllata, a quality assurance label for Italian food products) wines from all wine-producing regions of Italy. With a wide array of Barolos, Brunellos, Barbarescos, Amarones, Chiantis and many others, it was a true embarrassment of riches. I managed to taste about 50% of the wines. Here’s a list of my 10 favourite wines (in no particular order of preference):

Franciacorta Extra Brut Vittorio Moretti ’06 Bellavista An iconic name in the Italian wine industry, this Bellavista Extra Brut is truly magnificent. Elegant, complex with well-defined fruit and a long creamy finish.

Barbaresco Serraboella ’09 F.illi Cigliuti A solid expressive Barberesco with notes of dark cherry,excellent balance of fruit and acidity, full of flavour and a very long finish. The house of Cigliuti has always been at the forefront of great wines of the Lange region.

Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva ’07 Bruno Giacosa The wines of Bruno Giacosa are outstanding and this Barolo is no exception, with notes of red fruit and leather, held together by well ingrained tannins and refreshing acidity. The palate offers unique tanginess and great length.

Barolo Liste ’08 Giacomo Borgogno & Figli Classic, traditional this Liste’ cru offers a Barolo with tannic texture which maintains the elegance and balance of the palate. A truly powerful wine.

Barolo Castelletto ’09 Giovani Manzone A Barolo with notes of spice, herbs and tobacco. Long deep palate governed by weighty yet discreet tannins.

Colli Tortonesi Timorasso Fausto ’11 Vigna Marina Coppi Timorasso, an indigenous white grape, has recently earned widespread recognition. The Fausto is a wine with a bright hue and acidic structure. Aromas of white fruit and grapefruit with a vibrant mineral nose. Very complex.

Chianti Classico ’10 Fontodi A true classic Chianti giving authentic expression of the Sangiovese. Austere, tannic and a crisp finish. Offering an occasional mouth-drying sensation so typical of Sangiovese.

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva ’07 Canalicchio di Sopra A great Brunello, full of character with hints of spice and dried herbs. Fruity texture and fine tannins and long finish.

Amarone della Valpolicella ’06 Cav G.B. Bertani The Amarone that has it all — deep aromas, great finesse and a full body.

Passito di Pantelleria Ben Rye ’11 Donnafugata Made from the Moscato d’ Alessandria grape, this wine offers notes of lavender, peach, apricot and citrus and a long lingering finish.

The writer is a wine and hoteliering expert and founder president of the Calcutta Wine Club