Saturday, July 5, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
Daniel Bellino Zwicke with Conti Sebastiani Cappone and Joe Macari Jr. at Chianti Tasting
(Top Left) The Barone Ricasoli (Top Right)
Vicchmaggio, Greve in Chianti, TUSCANY
Chianti Classico Tasting
On Monday , April 21st 2008 the greatly anticipated Chianti Classic Tasting was held at 583 Park Avenue. Hosted by the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, which is a Consortium of Professionals who are made up of Wine Producers (Proprietors and Winemakers) of the wine Chianti Classico. This group is not a Governmental Body but a private group of individuals that was created in 1924 to define the area of Chianti Classico and its wines, also called Chianti Classico and the manner and guidelines of how the wine was to be made and the parameters of what constitutes a Chianti Classico. Yes the name of the zone and the wine are the same, “Chianti Classico,’and the wine was actually name after the zone.
When the Consozvio Vino Chianti Classico was created in 1924, there did not exist any governmental bodies that now do to set guidelines and laws to which wines have to adhere to all over Italy.This is why the consorzio was created in the first place, in order to define which area was the “Classico” area and to maintain quality and consistency.
This Grand tasting held in New York on April 21, 2008 by the Chianti Consorzio was personally hosted by the President of the Consorzio, Marco Pallanti who is also the Enologist and proprietor along with Lorenza of the renowned estate of the
Castelo Di Ama in Gaiole in Chianti. As for myself, if feel that the wines of
Castelo Di Ama are overrated, grossly overpriced, and not worth the money. I actually have personally monikered the the “Gaja of Chianti” of Angelo Gaja and his wines, which are highly overrated and even more grossly overpriced, but that is all for another discussion.
Along with Dr. Pallanti the event was also hosted by esteemed Sommelier and wine writer David Lynch, who co-authored one of the Italian Wine Worlds most renowned books on the subject of Italian Wine, Vino Italiano along with Joseph Bastianich.
The tasting was made up of 40 producers of Chianti Classico of which there were over 150 different Chianti offered for tasting. The Chianti presented were both
Chianti Normale (base Chianti) and Chianti Riserva and the vintages ranged from 2001 to 2006.
Note that “Chianti Normale” or base Chianti does not infer that these Chianti are of a lesser quality. The styles are different and the base Chianti are to me and many others, actually more the true and traditional of Chianti as the weight is lighter more correct and less concentrated than the weight (body) of Chianti Reserva.
As with many subjects there is debate and differences of and agreement of what is true traditional Chianti is and what is not. I as a Wine Professional of many years who has focused mainly on Italian Wine and a great lover of Chianti and a traditionalist at heart, of course I am of the Old-School Traditional Chianti. I do feel that the laws of the Chianti Consorzio are not correct and are not for the Great Tradition of Chianti in that the wine Chianti when created by the Baron Ricasoli almost 150 years ago was created as a wine made up as a blend of local grapes that was dominated by Sangiovese as its main grape and that Sangiovese was to be the primary grape of Chianti and to give it its special character along with small percentages of other local blending grapes such as Cannaiolo, Colorino, Trebbiano, Ceiligiolo, Malvasia Nera, and Mammolo.
I feel, as do other respected authorities on Italian Wine, such as one of my esteemed peers Charles Scicilnoe feel that the Italian Government and Chianti Consorzio are by allowing Cabernet, Merlot, and Syhrah into Chianti, are ruining this “Great Wine” Chianti and its great traditions.
Just a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot in what is allowed to be Chianti, completely changes the feel and taste of Chianti and what, according to tradition it should be.
“It’s not Chianti anymore!” Not it if has the slightest trace of Cabernet or Merlot, and traditionalist like myself, Charles Scicilone and others will not cease our Crusade until the day that the Italian Government and Chianti Consorzio come to their sense and completely eliminate Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, or any non-native grape variety from ever entering Chianti again.” We wait patiently, but why is it taking these people so long to act. They ruin one of their own National Treasures and every year that these grapes that are not of Chianti Classico, is another bad vintage for any producer that uses them.
Let’s note that although the sacrilege of allowing Cabernet, Merlot, and others into Chianti, it is not mandatory and is at each individual producers (Wine Estate) choice whether to put these grapes in their wine or to leave them out and thus make “Real,”
True, Traditional Chianti. There are a number of Estates that make real true Chianti devoid of any trace what so ever, of the dreaded Cabernet or Merlot. Some of these estate are; Castello Volpaia, Castello Verazzno, Monsanto, Castello Querceto, and
Castel Vicchomaggio to name a few. These estates are to be highly commended and there should be more. If all the producers in Chianti had enough pride, non would ever permit a bottle of wine that they label be called Chianti if it has Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot or any non-native grapes in it. Hey if you have acres of Cabernet or Merlot planted on your estate and want to use them, “Fine.” Just don’t call the wine Chianti! Classify it as IGT and call it “Super Tuscan,” it’s OK by me, “Just don’t call it Chianti!”
If you want to make a wine and call it Chianti, make sure it is a blend. A wine that is made of 100% Sangiovese is allowed to be called Chianti, though it should not. As per the original Chianti Recipe, Chianti is always a blend, made primarily of Sangiovese with other native grape varieties such as; Mammolo, Cannaiolo, Malvasia Nera, Trebbiano, and Colorino and Chinati should always be made with mostly Sangiovese with other minor blending grapes. It should never be made solely of Sangiovese (though according to the Government it can, but what does the Gov’t. know?) but have at least one or more other native grapes, even if it’s just 2 or 3%, there “Must” be at least one other native grape varietal accompanying the Sangiovese, it should not stand alone. This must be changed in order to make true Traditional Chianti.
Daniel Bellino Zwicke April 2008
Some of our Favorites of the Chianti Tasting 2008:
CHIANTI CLASSICO, VILLA CALCINAIA 2004 from Conti Capponi in Greve
CHIANT CLASSICO, CASTELLO BROLIO 2001 from the Barone Ricasole Gaiole
CHIANTI CLASSICO RIS. ROCCA GUICCIARDO, CASTELLO BROLIO 2005
CHIANTI CLASSICO, FONTERUTOLI 2005 from Marchese Mazzei, Castellina
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Joe Bastianich slups Spaghetti wit Mario Batali as Mom Lidia looks on.
Leonardo Locasio of Winebow with Marelisa Allegrini Great Amarone producer) and Daniel Bellino Zwicke, Sommelier.
Butcher at ALBANESE MEAT MARKET on Elizabeth Street
DONATA VENTURINI HOSTED WINE DINNER at DEL POSTO
Monday June 30, 2008. Donata Venturini of the Emilia Romagnan wine estate Baldini Venturini hosted a Lambrusco/ Emilia Romagnan wine dinner at Del Posto in the Meatpacking District of New York last night. The dinner was attended by members of the Wine Press, including Natasha Lardera, Pino Cavallo of Gazettino, Italian Wine Industry people like Leonardo Locasio the founder and proprietor of Winebow, Salvatore Evangelista of Supreme Wines, and Daniel Bellino Zwicke.
The feature of the evening was the wines of Baldini Venturini which were paired along with other wines to a phenomenal 7 course menu created by Del Posto’s Executive Chef Mark Ladner.
The evening started with a cocktail hour of Carpene Malvoltti Prosecco followed by the sit down dinner.
We began the meal with perfect Prosciutto di Parma paired with Venturini’s Malvasia,
Colli di Scandiano e di Canossa 2007. This wine was absolutely extraordinary. Immediately as I brought the wine to my nose I could smell a complex array of aromas led by what smelled like Over-Ripe Pears and Apples. It was phenomenal. In the mouth the wine tasted of a great Sauterne minus the sweetness. This wine is a absolute “Winner,” Unfortunately these wines are not yet available in the U.S. but is sure to be so soon as a few of the Wine Importers present were hot for these wines and practically fighting to see who will be Lucky enough to have them in their Portfolio.
The second course was Aragosta con Salsa Americana (Lobster Salad with Campari Sauce) paired with the Tocai Friuliano,Livio Feluga 2007 which paired nicely with the Lobster. The Tocai exhibited classic Tocai flavors of crisp Apple with hints of Figs and nuts. Very nice from one of Friuli’s top producers Livio Feluga, who in this Wine Guys eyes (nose and mouth) makes the most wonderful Pinot Grigio on the entire market.
Livio Feluga’s Pinot Grigio has a beautiful copper tint in color, with excellent fruit aromas, and wonderful Pear and Kiwi with a tad of savory ness that is absolutely delicious. This wine taste of ripe Pears and Kiwi with a twinge of savory-ness.
Feluga’s Pinot Grigio is perfection when it comes to representing this grape variety to it ultimate peak. I am not one to hardly ever drink Pinot Grigio, but I would never say “No” to the fine wine. It is a joy to drink.
Note: We did not drink Livio Feluga Pinot Grigio at the dinner, but with the mention of the Tocai that we had, I couldn’t pass up the chance to talk about this wonderful wine.
For our “Third Course” Chef Ladner sent us Gargenelli Al Ragu Bognese, which was absolute “Perfection Personified” on a plate. The Bolognese was so wonderful that this guy wish that the portion on the plate was double of what it actually was. Rich and so sublime. It was cruel and a tease to us to eat something so flavorsome, and just have a tiny taste. “Se la Vie.” Lambrusco Rosso, Reggiano, Venturini Baldini 2007 with its invigorating flavors of Sour Cherries and Plum was the perfect foil to the “
Perfect Bolognese.” The wine was refreshing and wonderful and a delight to drink.
Our fourth course, Salsiccia di Foe Gras was quite tasty. The Lambrusco Spumante, Rubino del Cerro, Venturini Baldini 2007 paired with the Foe Gras sausage was an excellent match.
Fifth Course was Beef Tenderloin that melted in the mouth, grass fed from Colorado. Superb, paired with Barolo Damilano.
For desert we were served two courses. The first Dolce was Citus Fantasia (Lime and Grapefruit Gelato) paired with two tasty desert wines; a delisious Marzemino, Colli di Scandiano e di Canossa, Venturini Baldini 2007 and Malvasia, Colli di Scandiano e di Canossa, Venturini Baldini 2007 which was delicate and elegant with lovely Pear and Apple flavors.
We were then served the second desert course of Biscotti Assortiti (Assorted Cookies), paired with 10 Year Tawny Port, Neiport NV.
The dinner, the food, wine, and company were a “Joy.” It was quite a wonderful evening.
Let us point out the fact that in the 1970 their was a “Tons” of awful cheap and cheese Lambrusco dumped on the U.S. which is not real Lambrusco but wine that was created to sell to those with uneducated and unsophisticated palates. There were two or three companies who ahd excellent ad and markdting campaigns geared toward that specific audience. The wine was compared to other awful cheap wines like Boone’s Farm. These people who made these so-called Lambrusco’s did a great job of marketing and selling Millions upon Million’s of bottles of the “Plunk.” They also did a great job of giving real true Lambrusco a Super Big Black Eye and oh-so bad reputation of which was never deserved , just as massed produced Soave and Valpolicella received an undeserved bad naneat the time.
True Lambrusco wonderful to drink. It is a nice refreshing unique alternative to drink now and then as something different. Luckily the Lambrusco Consorzio has done a fine job in recent years to kill this negative outlook of Lambrusco. The producers have done a great job making tasty true and traditional Lambrusco and New Yorkers and other Americans of good-taste and education have been taking to this Lovely wine. “Thank God, Lambrusco is finally getting the good due it deserves,” so has Valpolicella and Soave. These wines are good and pleasant to drink and it is nice to see more Americans discovering and accepting them. Even Loving them. Last year, more Lambrusco was sold then ever in the U.S. Have you tried some yet? Do so.