The Italian wine world has been shocked and thrilled by the industry's most prestigious award going to Bartolo Mascarello, a die-hard traditionalist.

Tre Bicchieri (‘three glasses’) Awards, published every year in Gambero Rosso’s Guide to Italian Wines, is an international benchmark for Italian wines.

It is also a champion of international-style wine, generally awarding the coveted three glasses to the most modern Italian wine-makers while ignoring and even criticising the traditionalists.

The more modern producers tend to rely on barrique ageing, while traditionalists use ancient methods such as long maceration times, and the classic large ‘botte’ cask.

While last year’s Guide raised eyebrows by honoring traditionalists like Rinaldi and Fratelli Oddero, this year’s awards are a stunning turnaround – the Tre Bicchieri for 2003 has gone to Barolo producer Bartolo Mascarello, one of the great opponents of change in winemaking.

Mascarello’s daughter Maria Teresa told decanter.com they were ‘shocked’ to get the award because of the criticism they had received for resisting modern techniques.

‘But in the last few years we’ve noticed an increased interest in our wines because consumers are tired of the uniformity of most wines and are looking for something different. For once it’s not the critics who are influencing the consumers, but the consumers who are influencing the critics.’

Mascarello himself says his techniques have been used since his father’s day. He said, ‘This just proves that while trends come and go, the classics will always remain. But we always knew this.’

Gambero Rosso editor Daniele Cernilli strongly denies any change in the guide’s philosophy. He told decanter.com, ‘We’re not for traditionalists or modernists but for well-made wine. Mascarello was included this year because his Barolo ’98 is a great wine.’

Three glasses have also gone to Montalcino’s Mastrojanni, and Salvioni. The Guide is officially published in October 2003 in Turin.

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