Tre Bicchieri and the Top Wines of Italy

Every year, the Italian food and wine magazine Gambero Rosso sponsors a tasting tour of Italian wines that win the organization’s prestigious Tre Bicchieri (“three glass”) designation. Gamberao Rosso’s panel of experts award this rating to only about one percent of the 45,000 wines tasted. Producers who win these designations are permitted to showcase these wines in their annual event, in addition to up to two other wines (many of which are two-glass designees).


This year’s San Francisco event was at Fort Mason. It began with two seminars. Unfortunately, the seminars’ location had very poor acoustics. Add in thick Italian accents and we strained to hear and understand many of the speakers. Still, we did walk away with a new appreciation of the wines.

  • One seminar showcased 11 winners of special awards. The categories including white, red, rose, sparkling and sweet wine of the year, grower and winery of the year and best value for the money.

Emilia-Romagna Wine Region

One seminar focused on the Emilia-Romagna region. This region in Northern Italy is between Tuscany to the south, Veneto and Lombardy to the north and the Adriatic Sea to the east. Wine has been produced in the area since around the 7th century BC. Today It is especially known for its semi-sparkling, “frizzante”-style Lambruscos. We had been mostly familiar with the somewhat sweet inexpensive Lambrusco wine that hit the US market en masse in the 1970s. Today’s Lambrusco  has evolved to a much higher quality of dry and semi-sweet semi-sparklers. While it is still not quite our taste, we were given overviews of the different varieties, styles and qualities of the current vintage.


We were more attuned to the region’s distinct style of Sangiovese wines. We particularly like two Romagna Sangiovese Superiore Riservas:  a 2017 DOC Poggoigirato from Poggo della Dogana and a 2016 DOC Lucciole from Conde. The seminar also showcased two still white Albana white wines.

Special Awards Seminar

The second seminar was a special awards seminar took us on a much broader survey of the country’s wines from various grape varietals:

  • Vermentino, a light bodied white wine;
  • Catarrato, which is a high-yielding, lower quality white grape mostly used for blending or in Marsala wine. It has a neutral taste and low acidity;
  • Verdicchio , a high-acid white grape with citrus flavors;
  • Berbera a red grape that produces wine with deep color, full body, low tannins and high acidity;
  • Primativo (also known as Zinfandel) whose red grape produces big, jammy high alcohol wine with chewy tannins;
  • Sangiovese, Italy’s predominate red grape that is late-ripening. It produces tannic wine with high acid; and
  • Cabernet Sauvignon which produces full-bodied wines with high tannins.

Our tastes gravitated toward:

  • Centrpassi’s 2018 Silcilia Catarretto Terre Rosse di Giabbascio (Sicily);
  • 2018 Pico Maccario Barbera d’Asti Lavignone (the Piedmonte Best Value wine that is available for about $15);
  • 2017 Produttori di Manduria Primativo di Mandura Lirica (Puglia);
  • 2017 Tuscan wine from Frescobaldi (Winery of the Year) Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Rialzi  and its 2015-Tenuta Perano; and
  • Piaget’s 2016 Carmignano Riserva Super-Tuscan blend.

Our collective sweet tooth, meanwhile, was more than satisfied by the unctuous 2003 Toblino Trentino Vino Santo (Trentino).

Tre Biccieri Grand Tasting

The grand tasting consisted of about 250 wines from 120 producers. We focused on those from a handful of the country’s primary wine regions, each of which from which we found several that merited our particular attention. These included:


  • Castelo di Albola Chianti Classico Riserva 2016
  • Fatoria Carppineta Fontalpino Chianti Classico Fontalpino 2017
  • Tenuta di Arceno 2017 Chianti Classico,, 2013 Valadorna (Merlot-based blend) and 2014 Arcanum (Cabernet Franc-based blend)
  • San Felice Chianti Classico Gran Selexione Poggio Rosso 2015
  • Frescobaldi three-glass Chianti Rufino Nipozzano Riserva 2016 and afore-mentioned Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Rialzi 2015-Tenuta Perano 2017 and two-glass Brunello di Montalcino 2014
  • Podere Le Berne Nobile di Montepulciano 2016
  • DEI Nobile di Montepulciano Madrona della Querce 2015
  • Boscaelli Nobile di Montepulciano 2016
  • Fontodi Chianti Classico Gran Selezione V, del Sorbo 2016 and Chianti Classico 2016
  • Tenute Piccini 2019 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Valiano 6.38 and 2018 Etna Rosso Cauru


  • Paolo Manzone 2013 Barolo Riserva, 2015 Barolo del Comune di Serralunga d’Alba and 2017 Barbera d’Alba Superiore
  • Brandini 2015 Barolo R56
  • Fiorenzo Nada 2015 Barbaresco Montaribaldi and 2017 Barbera d’Alba


  • Conte Vistarno Tavernetto Pinot Niro 2016
  • Perla del Garda 2016 Lugana Perla Bio 2018


  • Italo Cesscon Madre 2017 blend of Riesling and Pinot Blanc
  • Zenato 2015 Lugana Sergio Zenato Riserva 2016 and Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2015
  • Veneto Tenuta Sant’ Antonio Amarone della Valpolicella Campo dei Gigli 2015
  • Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Campolongo di Torbe 2012


  • Tenute Bosco 2016 Etna Rosso Vico Prephyloxera and 2017 Etna Rosso
  • Cusumano Etna Bianco Alta Mora 2018

Read on blogs on previous Tre Biccieri vents




Please visit our past blogs on this event.

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