Embracing the Chaos

Tre Bicchieri 2019

I spent most of Friday knee-deep in Italian wine geek heaven, at the annual Tre Bicchieri tasting in New York. Tre Bicchieri highlights the best of the best of Italian wines, those very few which have won the coveted Gambero Rosso 'three glass' award. Actually, 'tasting' may not be the best description for this event. Once it gets rolling, Tre Bicchieri strongly resembles a rugby scrum....where everyone just happens to be carrying wine glasses.

This year, there were 196 separate tables. Some had just one wine; others five, six, or more selections. Then add a teeming crowd of Italian wine fans, and imagine the chaos. There's always a certain amount of chaos at Tre Bicch.

It's Old Home Week for a lot of us, so there tends to be a lot of loud and energetic shouting and hugging and kissing. Organization is fairly non-linear: Table 52 might be located between 133 and 134 because the producer changed importers and wanted to be with the rest of their people. Once things really get rolling, it's an athletic endeavor to get in to certain tables. Glasses break. Spit buckets overflow. And then there were the pens. Or rather, there weren't the pens, because somebody at Gambero Rosso decided it would be an excellent idea to hold this enormous tasting without any writing implements.

Chaos notwithstanding, I adore Tre Bicch. Unlike many tastings, where you're navigating through a sea of Cabernet and Chardonnay, every wine in the room is Italian, and spending a day bouncing from Rucche to Nebbiolo to Nerello Mascalese to Fiano is my idea of Nirvana. I love seeing all my old friends and being hugged half to death. I even love the crazy way things are 'organized':

Me: I love this Greco. Do you have a distributor in MA?
Vendor: I don't know...Luigi would know. (shouting) Luigi! This lady wants to know about Massachusetts.
Luigi: No...Sandro would know about that. I'll go find him.

I eventually found a pen, courtesy of a distributor pal. I also found some beautiful wines. A Primitivo di Manduria with pure, vibrant fruit. A couple of delicious, gulpable Lambruscos. And a stunning Nero d'Avola at an incredible price. In the coming weeks and months, you'll get to try them, too-finding great products is my primary reason for attending.

Max, thanks for the pen. Tre Bicchieri, thanks for the memories.