Vintage vs. Producer
By Tony Ventura
The annual pilgrimage to Gambero Rosso's Tre Bicchieri tasting has been completed. This event is the introduction of all the Italian wines that have won this coveted award to the American market. I usually share my personal favorites with our readers in this column. However, this year I would like to take a different approach.
Less than two percent of all the wines submitted were granted the 2010 Tre Bicchieri (3 glass) award. Even so, since the breadth and depth of Italian wine is so extensive throughout the country, there were almost 400 wines that were able to attain this status. My stained teeth and tannin-soaked tongue attest to the fact that I tried my best to taste as many of these award winners as I could. However, even the best tasters would not be able to achieve the feat of 400 different wines over the course of three hours! (Sorry Mr. Parker!)
I believe that the annual publication and ensuing press coverage may place an inordinate amount of importance on vintage dates. While I'm sure that wine collectors follow the weather specifically during the bud break and harvest stages of their favorite wine, I tend to think that our American consumers rightly place more importance on who is growing the grapes and making the wine.
It has been my experience that once you find a wine producer who makes a wine that you enjoy year after year, you tend to place more importance on the name of the winery on the bottle rather than the vintage date. And in that vein, there are certain producers throughout Italy whose wines have won more Tre Bicchieri awards than others.
Tuscany and Piedmont usually lead the list of regions with the most Tre Bicchieri wines. This year was no different. If we look at the last 23 years of these awards, the following producers are the ones whose wines have won the most awards:
- Piedmont - Gaja, La Spinetta, Elio Altare, Domenico Clerico, and Giacomo Conterno
- Tuscany - Castello di Fonterutoli, Felsina, Castello di Ama, Antinori, Poliziano, and Tenuta San Guido
- Friuli - Jermann, Villa Russiz, Dorigo, and Gravner
- Abruzzo - Mascarelli and Valentini
- Alto Adige - San Michele Appiano
- Sicily - Planeta
- Umbria - Castello della Sala
- Campania - Feudi di San Gregorio
- Veneto - Allegrini
Our readers should not interpret this list as the best producers in the various regions. However, if you want to taste wines from a producer who has a history of excellence according to Gambero Rosso, then you can use this list as some form of reference.