Friday, September 21, 2018

Tasting Chianti in New York




   The 2011 Wine Gala Wine Tasting held by the Italian Trade Commission was not as fat as years past. In these lean economic times, what really is these days? Macs, iPads, iPhones, and all things Apple? What else.

    Yes things were lean but there were a few bright spots to be sure. Let me start with the wines of the uber popular estate of "Ruffino" and its most popular wines Chianti Riserva Ducale and its prestigious Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva "ORO," Gold Label. To the most serious and knowledgeable of Italian Wine Aficionados these wine are normally dismissed as commercial and passe, but to many Italian-Americans and older slightly moneyed New York Italian-Americans and "Guys with Bent Noses," and guys who like to emulate Guys with Bent Noses, Ruffino Ducale Gold Label is held in quite high esteem. This wine has a history and presence in New York when it was one of more or less a handful of Italian Wines in this country compared to the thousands available today. Back in the 60's and 70's Ruffino along with the wines of Bertani, Masi, and Pio Cesare were thee top of the line, and people dining at the many Old-School Italian Restaurants of the day gravitated to these wines like Flies on you know what.

   Anyway, many more wines became available, more people visited Italy and explored the wines, many more wines became available and to many, the so-called "Old School" wines like Ruffino and Pio Cesare lost some of their luster. That being said, there is still a quite considerable number of people, especially men over the age of 50 (Italian New Yorker's) who still hold these wine in high esteem, and order them often in the Italian Restaurants of the day.

   OK, so let's talk about the wine tasted this day. As usual the Ruffino Ducale Oro Gold Label 2005 disappointed. The wine which is a Premium Wine at a "Premium Price" quite often disappoints, as it did on this day. It just was not well balanced, it lacked fruit, and just was not enjoyable to put it in the simplest terms possible. The much cheaper wine in the Ruffino Ducale Chianti Riserva 2006 (Tan Label) on the other hand was very enjoyable and a "Superior Wine" to the Ducale "Oro" (Gold Label) 2005. The Ruffino Tan Label Chianti  Riserva was well rounded with proper tannic and acidic components, with a generous amount of Fruit and weight that was just right, not too much nor too little. It was a pleasant wine to drink.  And for those of the general public who don't normally know a great deal about wine as far as all the intricacies are concerned (which can be just a bunch of BS), but they know when they like and totally enjoy a wine, you should know that quite often the lesser simple wine's of any particular estate are better, tastier, more enjoyable than the supposedly "Better" more costly Premium wines, which is the case once again with the current vintages available from the estate of Ruffino. The cheaper wine, the Chianti Riserva (Tan Label) is far superior than the estates more expensive premium wine, the  Ruffino Chianti Classic Gold Label.

   At this Gala Tasting, the fine wines of Franco and Son Jacopo Biondi Santi were on hand from their two Tuscan estates Castello Di Montepo and their famed Brunello estate Tenuta Il Greppo where Franco and Jacopo's forefather "Created" Brunello.

     First I tried the whole line of Super Tuscans and Morellino Di Scansano from the Montepo Estate. A wine that is one of my all-time favorite Super Tuscans, "Sassoalloro" was a bit of a disappointment this time around with the 2007 vintage. I have loved this wine over the years especially the 1993 Vintage which I drank with Jacopo Biondi Santi and 14 other noted New York Italian Wine Guys, which included; Renzo Rapiscoli, Charles Sciccoilone and myself at a wonderful Wine Tasting Dinner Jacopo hosted at Spark's Steak House back in 1998. The wines that evening where outstanding, including; the Sassoalloro, Schidione, Moscadello, and several vintages (1988, 90, and 93) of Biondi Santi's "Famed" Brunello.

    So, back to the wines on this day. The Schidione was quite nice, the Morrellino good. The two Brunello's on hand for the day were showing nicely but will be at their optimum in a few years, as these wines are made to age, drinking best with 15 to 20 years or more on them. The Brunello's this day were the 2005 Normale and the 2004 Riserva, both excellent and showing great promise down the road. Bravo Jacopo.

     Now down to the stars of the show and the wines of Castello Di Querceto in Greve in Chianti.
    I met with Dottt. Alessandro Francois and Maria Antonietta Corsi of Castello Querceto and they tasted me on their wines, of which 3 of the 6 I tasted were absolutely outstanding. The base Chianti in the Querceto Chianti Classico 2008 was a enjoyable textbook Chianti, medium bodied, good Cherry fruit flavors, with a bit of zippy acid and just perfectly balance. Next up was the Chianti Classico Riserva "Il Picchio" 2007. A beautiful wine that had all the great characteristics of the previous Chianti with just a notch upward of fruit and bodied. I loved the Super Tuscan offering in the Querceto "Il Quercioaia" 2005. The wine had great balance, it was full in flavor with beautiful Cherry and Black Fruit flavors. made of 65% Sangiovese and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine was a joy to drink.

  Let me note that all the Chianti's of Castello Querceto are "Real Chianti" and not aborted sacrilegious so-called Chianti that contain Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, which are allowed by the government because of political reasons in Chianti which is a "Complete and Total Sacrilege" which any true Chianti aficionado will tell you that, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syhrah or any none native grape should "Never Ever be Allowed" in bottle of wine labeled Chianti. Chianti is a great wine made primarily of Sangiovese with small quantities of other minor native grapes such as; Colorino, Malvasia Nero, Cielliegiollo, and Canaiolo.

    All the Chianti of Castello Di Querceto are real Chianti in that they are all made with only native grapes which include about 95% Sangiovese and 5% Canaiolo. Thank you Castello Querceto and all other Chianti producers like Mansanto, Castello Verrazzano and others who make "Real Authentic Chianti," Chianti that contains only "Native Grape Varietals" and no trace of International Grapes such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.


Stop letting non-native Chianti Grape Varieties in CHIANTI !"

"PLEASE" !!!



Note :  Making this note, on Tuesday September 28, 2021, some 12 years or so after I wrote the above article. I am a big fan of Chianti, as you may have gathered. I love it, and have been drinking Chianti for some 40 plus years now. I'm a purest and traditionalist, and love the Chianti of older days, and current ones as well, that are made according to the old tradition, Chianti that is made of only native Chianti grapes, of primarily of Sangiovese, with small amounts of native blending grapes like: Canaiolo, Colorino, Malvasia Nero, and Ciliegiolo, with absolutely no Internaltiona Grape Varietals such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. My words may sound harsh, but I am a passionate person, and hate to see Chianti being ruined. And especially for no reason at all. There is no need to put Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon into Chianti, when the perfectly suited native blending grapes I've just mentioned are available.

I say to producers in Chianti, "If you have international variety grapes on your estate in Chianti Classico and want to make wine with them, then by all means, do so. Just don't call it Chianti. Use your Merlot, and or Cabernet to make a rosso or Super Tyscan bottlings, and make your Chianti with of course primarily Sangiovese and small amounts of either Canaiolo, Malvasia, Colorino, and Ciliegiolo. Please!"

Also to the Goverment of Italy and Italian Wine laws. Please change the horrible ammendment you made in 1994 that allows Chianti to be made with international non-native Chainti grapes into Chainti Wine. You should only allow native grapes of the region, and ban Merlot and Cabernet from the make-up of Chianti Classico wine right now and forever. Also, change the rules back to making Chianti as a blend of grapes, with 92% Sangiovese and 8% of native grapes, such as: Colorino, Malvasia Nero, Canaiolo, and Ciliegiolo grapes. Make Chianti, Chianti again! Please! 

I ask, why do you want to make wines like everyone else in the World when you have your own wonderful wine that is inique to the World, and should always be made so, in the old original tradition of making Chianti, again mostly with the native Sangiovese making up more than 90% of the blend. And blend being a very key word. Chianti has always (until the insane law change in 1994) been a blended wine, made moslty with Sangiovese ( over 90%), but always including a small percentage of the regions other native grapes, usually Canaiolo or Colorino, as well as Malvasia Nero and / or Ciliegiolo grapes, and never ever any grapes like Merlot, Cabernet or Syrah that are not native to the region. "Why do that?" It just doesn't make sense to destroy your wonderful native wine of Chainti that is (or was) unique to the World.

Basta !

The governing body that makes the wine laws in Italy is the Camitao Nazionale del Vino  (National Wine Committee).

Daniel Bellino Zwicke ... September 28, 2021


with his friend Cavaliere Luigi Cappelini


Greve in Chianti










Sebastiano Capponi (L) with Daniel Bellino Zwicke

and Joe Macari (far right)

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 Consorzio 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 Castelo di Ama Estate the “Gaja of Chianti” of Angelo Gaja and his wines, which are highly overrated and even more grossly overpriced as well. But this however is 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 Verrazzano, Monsanto, Castello Querceto, and Castel Vicchiomaggio 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 


VILLA CALCINAIA 2004 from Conti Capponi in Greve CHIANT CLASSICO

 CASTELLO BROLIO 2001 from the Barone Ricasole Gaiole Chiant Classico Riserva


 FONTERUTOLI 2005 from Marchesi Mazzei, Castellina

Author Daniel Bellino Zwicke








Join Chianti Classico at this Grand Tasting as they introduce the newest vintage as well as the new Additional Geographic Unit System.

About this Event: 

***The Chianti Classico Grand Tasting on Monday February 28th is currently sold out.***
*If you are still interested in attending please email*

Celebrate one of the world’s most prestigious wine denominations, Chianti Classico, at a Walk-Around Tasting with over 50 wineries and educational seminars by renowned wine cartographer Alessandro Masnaghetti at The Altman Building in New York City on February 28, 2022.

In June 2021, Chianti Classico approved the project of the UGA system (Additional Geographic Units) to differentiate and highlight the differences in climate and soil type of 11 villages of the region. The introduction of the UGA system marked a milestone for Chianti Classico and will help define and better explain the unique taste profiles of its wines.

The New York event will offer a fully immersive experience to attendees who will be able to viscerally experience the unique landscapes that make Chianti Classico wines so sought after.

During the event you'll be able to taste Chianti Classico wines and speak with winery representatives, from small boutique wineries to some of this region's more established producers as well as learning about the UGA system from Wine Cartographer Alessandro Masnaghetti.

Monday February 28, 2022   


Yes, the Grand Chianti Tasting is today. Having my morning coffee, and getting ready to head up to The Alman Building for the tasting. Well, two down and one to go, for this latest barrage of Italian WIne Tastings that started with the Brunello Tasting on Wednesday, followed by Tre Bicchieri on Friday, and now the CHiant Tasting today. Quite something. After two years of no tastings at all, due to the Pandemic, we now see a concentration of the 3 biggest Italian Wine Events of the year, all in a short 8 days time.

I'm looking forward to tasting some great CHianti and other wines made in the CHianti Zone. There will be a lot of wonderful Chinti wines to taste among the 50 participating estates, but I always have my sentimental favorites, which include Castello Verrazzano in Greve, from my good friend the Cavalier Luigi Cappellini, always some real authentic ( no Merlot, No Cab) Chianti wines, along with the estates great example of Vino Santo. Also in Greve, and along with Verrazzano as my two favorites are the wines from Villa Calinaia and my friends Conti Capponi, Sebastiano and Nicola Capponi, two brothers of the noble Florentine Family of Capponi. Villa Calcinaia is one of the most and important estates in all of Chianti Classico. The Capponi Family have been making wine in Greve for more than 500 years. Quite a pedigree. 

Third on the list, and along with Villa Calcinaia, the estate of Fontodi from Giovanni Manetti in Pnazano, the next town south of Greve on Chianti Classico'S Chaintigiana Road that runs sout from Florence in the North, to Siena on the southern end. On the first day that I ever visited a wine estate in Italy, and was given a private tour and tasting by the owner of the estate, the first estate was Villa Calcinaia and The Conti Capponi, and after we took a tour of Villa Calciania and had a wonderful lunch with the two Counts, we left and made our way to Panzano and the Fontodi Wine Estate to meet up with Giovanni Manetti, who took us on a tour of the cellears and the vindeyards, before bringing us inside for a tasting of Fontodi's wonderful Chainti, Vin Santo, and Super Tuscan (Flaccinella) Wines. It was quite a day, and one I cherish to this day,

Well, Boys and Girls. It's time to go. Up to 18th Street and the Altman Builing where all the wonderful Chianti, Vin Santo, and my Tucan Friends await. I will taste the fine wines, visit and chit-chat with friends, and I will report back to you tomorrow to let you know about the wine and how the day went. So Ciao for now. 

Daniele Bellino Z   "The New York Italian Food & Wine Guy"

Basta !


My Favorite Chianti of The Day


An Amazing WIne, in Perfect Balance.

Any Wine that I say is Perfect Balance, it means the Wine is Great and as Good as It Gets


Silvia Cappellini and Daughter M. Cappellini




Feb. 28, 2022

Just got back from the Chianti Tasting (New York). I drank a lot of great Chianti and some phenominal Vin Santo, and no Super Tuscans, which I thought they would be pouring at the tasting, but no. No problem. I was toatlly satisfied to be drinking just Chianti, and Vin Santo, the two great wines of the Chianti Classico Region. No need for any others.

I tasted at least 40 CHianti, and really enjoyed them. I loved the Chianti from ny friends the Capponi's at Villa Calcinaia, and the wines from my pal Cavaliere Luigi Cappellino of Catell Verrazzano in Greve. I have to sat, after tasting all of these wine, my favorite CHianti of all was the Chianti Verrazzano Reserva 2016. The iwne was amazing. It was my favorite CHianti of the day, as well as being my favorite wine of the past 8 days of 3 Major Italian Wine Tastings in the past 8 days. The Verrazzano Reserve Chianti 2016 was my favorite of hundreds ofItalian Wines in the past 8 days, plain and simple.

I tried about 15 VinSanto offerings from : Villa Calcinaia, Verrazzano, Felsia, Quercetto, Badia Colto Buono, Vicchamaggio and many more, and loved every single Vin Santo I tasted. They were all dilicious, but if I had to pick one that was my favorite, I'd have to say that it was the Vin Santo from Villa Calcinaia in Greve, in Chianti.

It was a great day of tasting. I saw a few good friends from Italy and a few New York Italian Wine Friends as well. Any day is great day when you drink Italian Wine.

Me & Conti Sebastiano Capponi


GHreve in Chianti




With ITALIN FOOD & WINE WRITER Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Margherita Manetti



The Owner of FONTODI 

and President of The CHIANTI CONSORZIO

It was very nice to meet Margherita Manetti, daughter of my pal Goivanni Manetti
of Fontodi Wines, Panzano Italy.

Margherita is alovely young lady, and it was nice meeting her and cahtting with her about the family's wines and wine estate in Panzano. Naturally I saw her father, an old friend, Giovanni Manetti. 




Both Estates in GREVE, ITALY


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Author Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Chianti! Chianti is Sacred Nectar of the Gods. Being so, Chianti should thus be treated accordingly to its exalted status, being deserved of society’s highest accolades that is Chianti’s due. Since its creation by the Baron Ricasoli in the 1870’s, Chianti has been held in the highest esteem and prestige. In its existence it has had a bit of a bumpy road in terms of quality and prestige for a portion of its history. This bumpy road or shall we say low-point for Chianti took place around the early 1960’s and into the late 1970’s, a period of about twenty-years. The Chianti of Chianti Classico in these years was pretty much; thinned-out, characterless, commercial wine of quantity rather than quality. It was all about producing as much wine per acre, that was possible, with pretty much a disregard for quality, large quantities of insipid, weak nondescript wines instead of wines with proper concentration, substance, and character. At the time (1960-1981), this was pretty much the case for most wines of Italy, not just Tuscany and the region of Chianti Classico. This being said, there was always a small percentage of top quality producers that never strayed to the negative side. These producers (wine estates) always produced good top-level wine outside of the majority of those producing a inferior product (Chianti). It’s just that at the time, the majority of the Italian wine industry was going for the money. It was more profitable to produce higher quantities of inferior wine, than to produce smaller amounts of higher quality Chianti, and so this is the way thing went for some time. Most likely it was not just that those making Chianti in this low-period may have wanted to make better quality Chianti, but the market which included the United States as the primary customer, along with Italians in Italy didn’t expect it. Once some estates started turning out lower quality Chianti, there was a snowball affect and so it seems, most Americans buying Chianti in the 50s, 60, and 1970s just expected Chianti at a cheaper price, of acceptable quality, and in the ubiquitous straw-wrapped wine-flask that was Chianti at the time was famous for, cheap and in its expected Straw Bottle. This is what the larger Chianti buying public, and even if there was higher quality Chianti, and there was some, most consumers just wanted the cheap stuff. One of the most influential figures in the history of Chianti is the Italian statesman, Bettino Ricasoli who created the Chianti recipe that would later be canonized in DOC regulations. The Ricasoli family traces their lineage in the Chianti region to Lombard barons who ruled during the 11th century. The family estate in Brolio is located in what is now known as the heart of the Chianti Classico region in the province of Siena. Orphaned at a young age, his family estate was crippled with debt and in disarray shortly after Ricasoli got married. Restoring the estate and its vineyard became his primary focus. Ricasoli traveled throughout France and Germany, studying the latest winemaking methods and brought back with him vine cuttings of new grape varieties. He began to experiment in his vineyard and cellar on which grapes produced the best wines at his estate. His work eventually settled on a blend of three Tuscan grapes-Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia.

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Castello Brolio

   I myself am on, and have been on a personal quest to have the laws governing how Chianti can be made. If I could make Chianti, what would I do? How would I make it? What style, thick and concentrated, thin and light, or somewhere in-between? Would I allow non-traditional secondary grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot? “Certainly not! That would be most sacrilegious.” Number one, in molding what many consider to be a real and true classic Chianti, “you never ever allow, Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah or any grapes that are not native or traditional to the Chianti Classico zone into the mix (the blend of Chianti). As anyone who know a little about Chianti, they know that the primary grape of this storied wine is Sangiovese and from the beginning Chianti has always been a wine made with a blend of 3 or 4 native grape varietals with the primary grape being Sangiovese with small amounts of native grapes making up the remainder of an estates Chianti Classico. The secondary grapes to the primary grape of Sangiovese (75-100%) should only be either; Canaiolo, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, Trebbiano, or Malvasia Bianco, or Malvasi Nero, with any of these grapes being added singularly or in any combination the vintner chooses. The percentage of white grapes allowed since 1984 is a maximum of 6% as opposed to the once ridiculous about of 30% in the sixties and seventies. The allowance of up to 30% white grapes was the major factor in bringing about the bad reputation that Chianti garnered during those dismal years when the quantity of wine made (bulk) was favored over quality in smaller numbers of production in much of Italy. Luckily there were producers like the Antinori family who started making great wines in the Chianti Classico zone which could not be labeled under the Chianti D.O.C. but as Vin di Tavola (the lowest designation, though these wines were of Superior quality), in the wines; “Solaia” which was made primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon with about 20% Sangiovese and “Tignanello” which was made of 100% Sangiovese in its first vintage in 1971. After the first vintage of Tignanello a percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (15-20%) was added a couple years later and Tignanello became and was designated a Vino di Tavola which most people know as Super Tuscan. So that very first vintage of the now famous Super Tuscan wine called Tignanello, was originally classified as a Chianti Classico. The Marchese Piero Antinori began making Tignanello in the Chianti Classico region along with “Sassicia” from his vineyard on the Tuscan coast of Bolgerhi. These wines were instrumental in elevating the wines of Tuscany, in that by making these high quality wines and inspiring other producers to do the same. So, the act of making exceptional quality wines in and around the Chianti region, which were not Chianti’s but Super Tuscans, was the factor that sparked the beginning of better and better Chianti’s over time.    The last two dates of 1984 and 1996 in which we see the governing bodies changing the laws governing the production of Chianti. These laws forced producers to make better Chianti. These laws which allowed producers to completely eliminate white varietals from Chianti and not allowing more than 6% white grapes was the main factor to improving quality in the wine, while at the same time allowing up to 15% of other varieties such as Merlot or Cabernet and the allowance of making a Chianti from 100% Sangiovese, thus allowing a Chianti that is not a blended wine, if a producer so chose to make Chianti in this fashion. These two new amendments gave way to radically changing what a Chianti was, now, what many believe to be more of a Super Tuscan than a true Chianti. Chianti’s made of solely 100% Sangiovese or those made with 10 to 15 percent Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon would lose much of the general character that a “True Chianti” should have in order for it to really be Chianti and not just to say it is Chianti when it really is not. It’s really a Super Tuscan, which is fine, just to label it, or say that it is Chianti, when it really is not. I must admit that at the time the laws first allowed the addition of these International varieties, I was quite excited and thought that this was a great thing for Chianti. It wasn’t. I was wrong. I quickly changed my mind about what true Chianti really is, and not a wine that has substantial parts Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon instead of what they should have, which are the tradition Chianti sub-varietals of Canniolo, Colorino, Malvasia, or Trebbiano. As I tasted these new wines and at the same time started learning a great deal more about Italian wine, I soon discovered that the Chianti’s that had either Merlot or Cabernet tasted completely different. “They didn’t taste like Chianti!” They didn’t have the wonderful rustic characters of true Chianti. They taste more like wines from California, instead of having the characteristics from the “Terroir” of where they came from

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Villa Calcinaia , Greve in Chianti

“Chianti Classico”, “Chianti Rufina”, “Colli Sienesi”, or “Colli Fiorentina”. Fortunately most producers making Chianti do not put Merlot or Cabernet in the bottles they label Chianti, most use Canaiolo or Colorino as the secondary grape. Wine estates that grow Merlot, Cabernet, or Syrah, generally use these varieties to make “Super Tuscan” wines which are much more profitable as they can get much higher prices on the wholesale and retail markets for these wines. To myself and other Italian Wine Geeks, if wine has Merlot or Cabernet in it, it’s a “Super Tuscan” not a Chianti and should be labeled as such as these grape varietals used, even in smaller percentages of only 5 to 10 percent are still powerful enough as to substantially change the character of what is supposed to be “Chianti”. These wines become something else, they become “Super Tuscans” and should be labeled as such (as far as I’m concerned)and not as Chianti which as the laws stand now they can be called Chianti. I am on a personal crusade to have the laws changed once again, which would eliminate non-native varietals from the Chianti blend.    One of the new parameters of making Chianti is that it can be made solely of 100% Sangiovese. This is the other part of laws governing Chianti which should be changed. As in its long tradition, Chianti was always a blend of grapes with Sangiovese making up the greatest part of the mix. Chianti was and always should be a blended wine, it should not be allowed to be made solely of Sangiovese, then again it’s a Super Tuscan not Chianti if you have a truly traditionalist mind towards Chianti. Chianti, when it was originated in the 1870’s by the Baron Bettino Ricasoli was a wine made of a blend of native grapes of the region of Chianti. The original Chianti made by Ricasoli was a blended wine made mostly of Sangiovese as the primary grape with small portions of Trebbiano and Cannaiolo. Until the lastest laws of 1996 which laid down the parameters of how Chianti could be made as a blend and it can also be made of purely 100% Sangiovese. Chianti made of just 100% Sangiovese is not quite true Chianti as well. I love Sangiovese. It is my favorite grape varietal in the World, but as well, Chianti was always a blended wine with Sangiovese as the primary grape varietal. Chianti was a blended wine for well over 100 years. With the latest laws, Chianti can be a made purely of Sangiovese. Some wines that are made of 100% Sangiovese and are known as Super Tuscans are; “Prunaio”, “I Sodi San Niccolo”, “Cipresso”, Le Pergole Torta among many others. They are wonderful wines that fall into the Super-T category as any wine made in the Chiati Classico Zone should be. Chianti should always be a blend, even if it is only 1% or 2% of another native grape, which should be Canaiolo, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, Trebbianno, or Malvasia Bianco, or Malvasia Nero. The white varietals should not exceed more than 2% of the blend. This is how the new laws governing the production of Chianti would be laid down if it was up to me and others who are traditionalist and want Chianti to always adhere to its original form. “Real Chianti!” The wines should have fairly low yields of grapes harvested, but not so low as to produce super-concentrated rich wines that are more like blockbuster California Cabs or Super Tuscan powerhouses. This is not what Chianti is about. Chianti should be a have a certain amount of concentration and at the same time maintain its wonderful rustic character with Cherry and Sour Cherry flavors dominating with a touch of spice and earthiness. Chianti should be an easy drinking medium to lower-scale-full-bodied wine. Chianti should always maintain the tradition of being a blended wine with Sangiovese making up the great the majority of its physical make-up. It should never be solely made from 100% Sangiovese but contain at least 2% of one, two, or three of the traditional native sub-varietal grapes of Chianti Classico and never Merlot, Cabernet, Syhrah or other International variety. If I could set these laws as the new DOCG laws of Chianti Classico the laws would never have to be changed again. The laws, the way they are set today are a little too broad. One thing that is good in the way the laws stand now is that they do allow for a proper Chianti to be made, and most Chianti’s are made in this manner, but at the same time they allow for non-native varieties and the allowance of 100% Sangiovese. These last two regulations must be changed for all Chianti’s to be “True Chianti”. It is as simple as that! So, let us hope that one day in the near future, these laws will be laid down and every single bottle labeled Chianti is actually real, true Chianti that lives up to this great wines history and origins.      Chianti Classico. What is it? First off, the area came first, the wine Chianti Classico is name after the area it comes from, which is Chianti. The Chianti Classico is the most famous. It stretches from just a few miles south of Florence at its most northern tip and runs down almost 30 miles to Castelnuovo Beradenga at its most southern point. As Chianti grew in popularity and fame, a number of other regions where Chianti can be made developed. Some of these areas are Cooli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colli Arentini, and Rufina. None of these sub areas have ever gained anywhere near the fame as thee original Chianti Classico Zone. The Chianti Zone of Rufina, just outside Florence is the most prestigious zone apart from Chianti. These Chianti’s are of the highest quality. Three very well know producers in this area are Frescobaldi, Selvapiana, and Rufino and although the zone of Rufina is not as well known as the Chianti Classico zone, the zone of Rufina does have thee most famous Chianti of all, Rufino’s Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale (Gold Label).    So in closing, let us say that we hope the laws that govern the making of Chianti Classico will be changed some day. I think it is sure to happen. It would be best if it happens sooner than later, that in the making of Chianti, there shall be no Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syhrah or any other non-native or non-traditional grape varieties of Chianti Classico. Also the laws should be changed to eliminate 100% Sangiovese Chianti’s, Chianti should always be a blend.    The region of Chianti Classico is one of the World’s most beautiful wine regions, if not the most beautiful. It is enchanting, filled with castles, all forms of wine estates from small and simply to big and majestic. The beautiful rolling hills of Chianti are filled with Cypress trees that dot the crest of many a hill, along with rugged stone farm houses and the wondrous rows     Sangiovese vines lining the gently sloping hills.      Chianti is relatively untouched or spoiled by any type of ugly modern structures. The Chiantigiana road is still the ancient one built by the Romans and its pavement blends in perfectly with its untouched surroundings. Chianti is filled with lovely little towns like Castellina, Gaile, Greve, and Radda where you will find the famous Dante quoting butcher Dario Cechini. You can visit and stay in beautiful wine estates like Fattoria Valle, Castello Verazzano in Greve where the explorer Giovani Verazzano is from. You can stay at the beautiful estate of Vignamaggio where Gioconda lived and was painted my Michael Angelo. She is “Mona Lisa.”    Chianti, it’s not just a wine. “It’s a Place, a very beautiful place!”

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Author Daniel Bellino-Zwicke

with The Owner of Castello Verrazzano

Caveliere Luigi Cappellini

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Daniel Bellino Zwicke


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Road Leading to Villa Calcinaia

Conti Capponi

Greve in Chianti

.                                   A LIST of TRUE CHIANT'S that are  made primarily with Sangiovese with small amounts of native sub-varities such as Canaiolo, Malvasia Nero, Colorino, and Ciliegiolo and not containing any Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syhrah, or any Intl. Varieties.   

  Monsanto “Il Poggio” Chianti Classico Riserva 
  Castello Verazzano Chianti Classico 
  Castello Brolio Chainti Classico Reserva 
  Vignamaggio Chinati Classico Riserva “Mona Lisa” 
  Rufino Chianti Classico Riserva “Ducale” (Gold Label) 
  Selvapiana Chianti Rufina






Sebastiano Rosa and Giovanni Folnari

with Best Selling Autrhoe Daniel Bellino Zwicke


The three friends drank Chianti, Brunello,
and Sassicaia (Super Tuscan Wine) 
at The Tre Bicchieri Italian Wine Tasting, by Slow Foods
in New York. 
Sebastiano Rosa was the former winemaker
of Sassicaia at his family's wine estate Tenuta San Guido,
Bolgheri, Italy. Sebastiano now works with Agri Punica
in Sardinia , Italy, making Barua and Montessu.

Giovanno Folnari is one of the owners of Nozzole in Greve, Italy,
and hsi family makes Nozzole Chianti Classico and the Super Tuscan Wine
"IL Pareto" (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) at their estate Tenuta Nozzole in Greve.
The Folnari family also makes Brunello La Fuga in Montalcino.

Daniel Bellino Zwicke is a Best Selling Author of Italian Cookbooks, Travel and Wine Guides, the creator of Bar Cichetti, America's 1st ever Venetian Wine Bar (Bacaro), and was the former Wine Director of Barbetta Ristorante in
New York, running the wine program of what has been considered the greatest
Italian Wine Cellar in the United States at Barbetta. 




FLY with The BEST !!!




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