Showing posts with label Barolo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barolo. Show all posts

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Brunello Tre Bicchieri New York Italian Wine 2022





As usual at this time of the year, I'm looking forward to the biggest, most important Italian Wine Tastings of the year. Those being; # 1, The Tre Bicchieri , # 2 The Brunello Tasting, and # 3, yet no less important, The Chianti Tasting on Monday, February 28th ... I love all these tastings, and being one of New York's Top Italian Wine Guys for some 20 plas years now, these are my favorite Italian Wine Events of the year. That is unless, if someone like my old pal Jacopo Biondi Sante of Biondi Sante Brunello fame, happens to be hosting an amazing private Wine Dinner of his great wines, which include his famed Brunello, Moscadello, and Super Tuscan and other IGT wines made by his family wine estates Tenute Greppo (not longer owned by the family, and Castello Montepo (still owned by Jacapo Biondi Santi), and the dinner is only for 16 lucky people. I was one of the Lucky few of several Million people living in New York, when I was invited by Jacapo and Martin Scott Wines (former Improter Distributer) to be among the chosen few at this prestigous Wine Dinner, in a Private Room at Spark's Steakhouse in New York (1998), as I was one of the owner (Chef / Wine Director) of one of the Hottest New York Italian Restuarants of the time, Bar Cichetti. To make it short and sweet, we hadan amazing dinner, starting with an assortment of Italian Antipasti, like; Baked Clams, Stuffed Mushrooms, Stuffed Peppers, Prosciutto and other Italian delicasies. We followed that with a famous Spark's Dry Aged New York Cut Sirloin Steak each, followed by a Cheese Course, then an assortment of wonderful desserts with Jacapo's supreme Moscadello di Montalcino. 

Naturally we drank 3 different vinatges of Biondi Sante Brunello, as well as two of the companies fine Super Tuscan wines in Sassoaloro and Schicdione wines. The evening was absolutely wonderful, as you can see my passion reminiscing these 24 years gone by.


Well, sorry, I got off of the subject a minute (2022 Italian Wine Eventes NYC). So, as I've said, these are the most important Italian Wine Events of the year (in New York), unless of course you are at an event such as I've just described. If not, then it's The Brunello Tasting, Tre Bicchieri, and The Chianti Tasting, and of these 3, Tre Bicchieri is the most improtant, as it is not just Brunello or Chianti, or any single wine or wine region, but all of the best wines of Italy, in every wine region, all over Italy, from: Peidmonte with their great Barolo and Barbaresco wines, to Montalcino and Brunello, to Chainti Classic and Chianti and numerous Super Tuscan Wines of the region, to Friuli and all the gerat white Italian wines of the North-East of Italy, and all over the land. And besides all the great wine, my favorite thing about this tasting, is that I get to see my Italian friends there, along with all my New York friends in the wine business in New York, or simply lovers of fine Italian Wines, Tre Bicchieri is awesome. 


Roberto Fiore with his Dad

The Famed Winemaker VITTORIO FIORE

With Thier Famed Sper Tuscan Il CARBIONIONNE

Tre Bicchieri "can't Remember which Year"




OK, that's Tre Bicchieri, now on to the New York Brunello Tasting 2022. As always I look forward to drinking the newly released Brunello di Maontacino, Reserve Brunelli, Moscadello di Maontalcino, and a few Super Tuscan offerings brought by the Brunello producers of Montalcino.

There is without question one Brunello producer who makes my favorite Brunello of all, and that's Fattoria Barbi and their Brunello Normale and Brunello Reserva, with its amazing Red Label that I love so much. Barbi is one of Montalcino's oldest producers, among the First 30, they make amaing Brunello and other wines, and they have one of the most Gorgeous Wine Cellars in the wole of Italy. Bar none.

My second favorite Brunello comes form my pal  Conti Franceso Maruni Cinzano, who along with his family own the great wine estate Col d' Orcia in Montalcino, producing some of, easily the World's Best Brunello. Francesco, always has wonderful older vintages of his wonderful Brunello for me to taste, and it is always a very special treat when I do, especially when he taste me on his most amazing Brunello Reserva Poggio al Vento. This particular time, Francesco tasted me 2004 vintage of the Col d' Orcia Brunello "Poggio al Vento" Reserva 2004.


Vintage 2016 In Brunello Di Montalcino - The Greatest Ever

The 2016 vintage shows unique tendencies. It is simply a vintage that will stand as a legendary and memorable vintage, regardless of whether we look 5 or 50 years ahead.

If you look back at some of the greatest Brunello vintages, 2016 will stand out, both greater and more magnificent than the others. 2006, 2010, 2015 will all simply come to stand in the shadow of vintage 2016 in the future. Brunello di Montalcino from this vintage is in such perfect balance that the most important wine critics are extremely excited. The producers are also happy - they can see how great wines they have made.

Vinous, which is the great authority in Italian wines, has recently released scores on most, if not all, of the essential wines from this vintage, and there is a clear trend - the quality is high like never before. Wine Advocate has only released a few scores so far. This means that the wine investor can secure strong Brunellos with high scores from Vinous.


Tasting some of The Counts WonderfuL Brunello

This was back in 2014 ... Week of NY BRUNELLO TATSTING


Other BRUNELLO Producers I LOVE, are : Altesino, Poggio Antical,
Livio Sassetti, and  IL Poggione.


Let me say it, right up front, "I Love Chianti" ! I first started going to the beautiful area known as Chianti Classico, way back in 1997. I fell in love with the area immediately, driving around, visiting with Giovanni Manetti at Fontodi in Panzano, after an amazing visit to Villa Calcinaia in Greve with the two noble Conti Capponi, the brothers Nicola an Sebastiano Capponi, whose Noble Florentine Family has owned a Pallazzo in Florence, and the wine estate Villa Calciania for over 400 years now. That day we met with the two Conti, who showed us around their family estate, into the cellars and vineyards, and culminating in an amazing private lunch with the two Florentine Counts (Conti). Needless to say, it was more than wonderful. We drank Villa Calcinaia Chianti of course. We at antipasti, pasta, Roast Chicken with potatoes, and dessert with the tasty Vin Santo from Villa Calcinaia, one of the most memorabel meals ever.

After our amazing lunch with the two Counts, we made our way down the beautiful Cypress lined driveway, and made a right on to the Chiantigiana Road (Ancient Roman Road), south to Panzano to meet up with Giovanni Manetti at the Fontodi  Estate. And yes this was quite nice as well. Not like having lunch with two noble Italian Counts, but not bad, being given a private tour of the Fontodi Cellars and Estate by the owner Mr. Giovanni Manetti. The tour was followed by a tasting of all of Fontodi's fine wines, including Chianti, Chianti Vigna del Sorbo, the estates famed Super Tuscan wine Flacianella, Syrah, and Vin Santo. 

Needless to say it was a great day.



So I am greatly looking forward to seeing a few of my old friends on February 28th in 
New York. I am particularly looking forward to my old pal Cavelieri Luigi Cappellini who O haven't seen in a few years. Luigi owns what to me is one of the most beautiful wine estates in Italy, Castello Verrazzano in Greve. Along with the fine Chianti of Villa Calcinaia, Lugi makes some of my favorite of all Chiantis at his Verrazzano estate. He also makes amazing Chainti Vinegar, Aceto, Olive Oil, and Honey, and when you have a lunch or dinner at Castello Verrazzano it's quite soemthing.

At least one of the Conti Capponi will be there to represent his family estate, it will most likely be the brother Sebastiano. I have never seen his brother Nocola in New York, only at the family's Palazzo in Florence, and at their wine estate Villa Calcinaia in Greve, about 18 miles south fo Florence. But one never knows, maybe Nicola will show up as well, and I can't wait to try their lastest vintages of Chainti, and if I'm lucky, they will have their sublime Chianti with them as well. Ir's going to be great.

Some of my other favorite Chianti producers I'm looking forward to seeing, are from : Bibbiano, Badia Coltobuono, Monsanto, Vicchomaggio (Greve), Castello Querceto (Greve), my good friend Giovanni Manetti from Fontodi (Panzano), Vignamaggio in Greve, on the estate where scholars beleive the Mona Lisa may have been painted by Leonardo di Vinci. Naturally the estate has a wonderful wine, named after the lovely lady, the wine Vignamaggio Chianti Classico Grand Seleczione Monna Lisa. 

Flesina will be there, along with Ruffino from Castellina, Villa Cerna, Castello Gabbiano, Castello Fonturetoli, and my good friends the Marchesi Frescbaldi bringing wines from their estate in
Tenuta Perano in Gaiole. 

I can hardly wait to see all my Italian friends from Chianti Classico, one of the most beautiful spots in the World. I'll see my Tuscan friends and drink thier wonderful Chianti Wines. I Love it. And if I can't be in Chianti, in Tuscan, this is the nest best thing. "It's gonna be awesome"


The Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri Tour and Top Italian Wines Roadshow are the World’s Premier Italian Wine showcases. We’re pleased to announce the tour’s return to the U.S. Join us once again for the ultimate, industry-only tasting of Italy’s highest-rated wines! The Tre Bicchieri events feature top Italian wineries pouring wines awarded the coveted “Tre Bicchieri” (“three glass”) designation, exclusively for members of the wine trade; additional wines will also be shown, including some of the year’s “top value” wines from Italy.

Come taste Italy’s “best of the best”, meet the winery representatives, and celebrate the release of the newest edition of Gambero Rosso’s legendary wine guide, the Vini d’Italia. Featuring more than just reviews of Italy’s finest wines, Vini d’Italia covers the brilliant, passionate individuals who devote their lives to winemaking. Today, more than 70 expert tasters comprise the team that blind-tastes 45,000+ wines annually. Of these many thousands of wines, fewer than 1% achieve the Tre Bicchieri designation. Gambero Rosso will visit four U.S. cities in 2022, introducing remarkable Italian winemakers and hundreds of Tre Bicchieri-awarded wines to the U.S. wine trade.



My Own Personal Favorite


Fattoria Barbi Brunello di Montalcino

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

A Brief History of Italian Wine





AMARONE Producer Owners of BOTTEGA del VINO


People have enjoyed drinking wine for thousands of years ever since its ancient origins in Mesopotamia, near present-day Iran. Italian and French wines are among the best and Italy is the largest producer of wine. This makes sense because the Romans made the most contributions to the ancient art of viniculture.

The Greeks, who settled in southern Italy and Sicily, exported the art of wine-growing to Italy. They were so impressed with the mild Italian climate which was perfect for producing wines that they called Italy, Oenotria, or the land of trained vines.

The Etruscans, who settled in central Italy, also produced wines. The Romans improved the techniques that the Greeks and Etruscans used.

Demand for wine increased greatly with the population explosion in Rome from 300B.C. to the beginning of the Christian era. It increased to over one million people and, as even the slaves drank wine, much more wine had to be produced.

The Romans loved their wine, drinking it with every meal. However, as the alcohol content was stronger than ours, they mixed it with large quantities of water. They preferred sweet wine and strangely enough their most prized wine was white. This came from the area that they thought was the best wine-growing region, the Falernian region near Naples.

Unusual flavors were often added to the wine. The Romans liked to mix honey with this drink to make an aperitif called mulsum. They often added herbs and spices, but were known to mix wine with salt water which must have given it an extremely bitter taste. Even chalk was sometimes mixed with wine to reduce acidity!

The many contributions the Romans made to the art of wine-growing included using props and trellises, improving the Greek presses used for extracting juice, classifying which grapes grew best in which climate, and increasing the yields.

The Romans exhibited good taste by deciding that aged wines tasted better and preferred wines that were ten to twenty-five years old. They discovered that wines which were kept in tightly closed containers improved with age and became the first to store it in wooden barrels. They may also have been the first to use glass jars and they also used corks.

They exported their excellent wine-growing techniques to other areas of Europe and these were not changed for centuries. But demand for wine decreased with the fall of the Roman Empire. Surprisingly Roman Catholic monks continued to produce wine during the Dark Ages but it only became popular again during the Renaissance.

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Italian wine was often criticized for its poor quality and the government decided that steps had to be taken. DOCG or new wine regulations were introduced to improved the quality of the wine.

Today Italian wines are considered by critics to be amongst the best in the world. As there are twenty different regions to choose from, each with different varieties, it is never difficult to find a fine Italian wine!






Sunday, May 16, 2021

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

King of Barbaresco

Author Daniel Bellino-Zwicke (R)
New York, NY


I drank through and tasted all of Italo's phenomenal Barbarescos as well as his; Dolcetto d' Alba Basarin 2011,
Pinot Noir 2012, and Barbaresco Santa Stefano 2006 & 2009 ... Italo is The King of Santa Stefano .. He has the only vineyard. He used to sell fruit to Bruno Giacosa, but the contract is up and Italo will be the only one in the World making Barbaresco Santa Stefano from now on. We drank the base Barbaresco Castello del Neive 2010 and the Barbaresco Santa Stefano 2009, both awesome, but the Santa Stefano had a slight edge of awesomeness. But not by much, both are great wines, perfectly balanced with fine fruit, and perfect examples of what a great Barbaresco should be. They are Textbook. It was great to see Italo again. He is the man! I just love that guy, and would rather drink his Barbaresco over anyone else's. ANd this of course includes Angelo Gaja, who makes some great Barbaresco, but the prices are through the roof, and dollar for dollar I'd put Italo's up against Gaja's any-day-of-the week .. You can't do any better ... Although I must say, I really enjoyed Anjelo's offerings last year when I tasted the wines at a tasting in New York with Anjelo and daughter Gaia ..
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The Castello di Neive winery began when Giacomo Stupino, the family patriarch, capitalized on his experience as a surveyor and his knowledge of the area to purchase favorable vineyards and land whenever possible. In the small cellars of their family home, the Stupino’s began their first wine production (including Messoirano, Montebertotto, Basarin, Valtorta, and i Cortini) and, over time, their acquired vineyards grew with the family’s production and ambitions. In 1964 the family purchased the castle with its spacious cellars, along with more land and farmsteads in Santo Stefano and Marcorino. This marked a turning point when the Stupino’s were able to renovate the castle cellars and reorganize their vineyards to produce wine according to modern methods. When Giacomo died in 1970, Giulio and Italo oversaw the transition from tenant farming to direct management of the land, initiating production and export of Castello di Neive wines abroad.

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Castello Di Neive and Vineyards

The Santo Stefano vineyard is located in Neive, which is one of the three townships (along with Barbaresco and Treiso) that form the Barbaresco appellation. Neive has long been known for its broad, ample wines. In many ways, Santo Stefano produces the prototypical Neive Barbaresco. A south to southwest-facing site, Santo Stefano encompasses just over 8.2 hectares of vineyards divided between 6.7 hectares of Nebbiolo and 1.5 hectares of Barbera. Altitude ranges from 180-240 meters above sea level. The property also includes 4.5 acres of hazelnuts, a reminder of a time when Piedmontese farmers lived off more than one crop. The Stupino family took possession of the Castello di Neive, which included the Santo Stefano and Marcorinasso cascine (farmhouses), in 1963 and formally purchased the property from Count Guido Riccardi Candiani, a descendent of the Count of Castelborgo, in 1964. At the time, approximately 20% of Santo Stefano was planted. The rest of the land was wild. The Stupinos planted 3.6 hectares of vineyards in 1963. In 1970, the Stupinos added another 2.10 hectares of Nebbiolo and replanted some of the highest parts of Santo Stefano with Barbera. Around 2001, the Stupinos began redeveloping the oldest part of the original vineyard with the help of the University of Torino.

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Santo Stefano and the Albesani district in 3-D. Image courtesy of Alessandro Masnaghetti. Used with permission. Today, Santo Stefano is referred to as a vineyard within the broader Albesani Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva, as shown in the accompanying vineyard map. Some of the best views of Santo Stefano are from Gallina, which faces Santo Stefano, and the part of Ovello that looks towards Neive. The original parcels of Santo Stefano are those that are that are bisected by the horizontal access road and the blocks that follow moving west (left on the drawing above) towards the Tanaro River. 

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by Daniel Bellino Zwicke


. .

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Is Barolo still Italy’s greatest wine? It’s a question I’ve been mulling over for some time. And like some of life’s bigger questions (Is there a God? And what really constitutes a 100-point wine?), it’s not one whose answer is readily known.
Barolo, after all, has been called “the King of Wines” for centuries—never mind that it took a Frenchman to bring this about (more on that later). But what was a certainty some 200 years ago may not necessarily be true in 2007. After all, the Barolos of only two decades ago bear little resemblance to the wines of today.
This is a consequence of what have been dramatically titled the “Barolo Wars,” with French oak and rotary fermenters and maybe a few Cabernet grapes as the weapons of choice. These are the armaments of so-called Modernists, producers whose mission has been to make Barolo a more contemporary and, as they might say, better wine.
To Traditionalists, a.k.a. Classicists, this is nothing short of heresy. (In this way, the Barolo Wars seem a bit like the Crusades.) To Classicists, Barolo has always been, and should always be, made the same way: produced from the native Nebbiolo grape (a thin-skinned, rather acidic and tannic red), then generally aged in big Slovenian casks called botti in a particular (and very lengthy) way.
This was more or less the model created by the Frenchman Louis Oudart back in the mid-19th century. When Oudart arrived in Piedmont, Barolo had been a simple, rustic, even sweet wine. Oudart been hired by the Marchesa of Barolo, who wanted something more noble to be created from her native red and believed a French wine consultant could do the job (a belief that the French have encouraged in various other parts of the wine world up through the present day). Oudart made such an impressive wine that other Piedmontese producers followed suit and a new style of Barolo was born, winning quite a few fans in the process—some of them even royals, like Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of unified Italy (though probably best known today as a boulevard; I’ve yet to visit an Italian town that doesn’t have its own CorsoVittorio Emanuele).
The style of wine Oudart created is the one that Traditionalists are still making today: wonderfully fragrant, with notes of bitter cherry, truffles, earth and even roses and tar; rather light-colored, quite high in acidity and very tannic, needing several years’ aging in barrel and bottle. In fact, by law Barolo must age a minimum of three years (at least two in barrel), though some producers age their wines longer. And even after Barolo is bottled, it requires many more years’ aging time. As famed Barolo producer Aldo Conterno once said, he made his wine to be “undrinkable” when it was first put into bottle.
Modernists found this style off-putting, not to mention commercially challenging (how to explain to consumers that they could buy a wine but not drink it for a decade or two?) and sometimes even flawed (a wine might take so long to come around that the fruit was gone before the tannins ever softened). And so in the ‘80s, winemakers like Luciano Sandrone and Paolo Scavino, among many others, adopted some techniques employed by winemakers in other parts of the world, like a shorter maceration of the grapes (resulting in softer, less tannic wines, as tannins are extracted during the maceration process), rotary fermenters (another means of softening wine) and the use of smaller French barrels over big Slovenian casks.
The result was a wine that was fruitier and easier to enjoy in its youth (sometimes even upon release), but one that Traditionalists argued lacked much of what made Barolo distinctive: its classic structure, powerful tannins and distinctive aromas. The modern wines were more like a lot of others and smelled mostly like French oak. They were also more pleasurable and less “intellectual”—the one word that Barolo Traditionalists invoke a lot. “Barolo is an intellectual’s wine” was the line I heard most often from sommeliers, wine merchants and collectors when I asked their thoughts on the wine. Barolo collectors, by the way, are almost always men. Why, I don’t know. Maybe wines with firm tannins are a measure of masculinity.
Second only to the suggestion of Barolo’s “intellectuality” is the assertion of its resemblance to Burgundy: “Barolo is the Burgundy of Italy.” This can mean any number of things, though I’ve narrowed it down to three: First, Nebbiolo is a lot like Pinot Noir, the great red grape of Burgundy, in that it is also thin-skinned, difficult to grow and possessed of beguiling aromas. Second, Barolo, like Burgundy, requires its followers to memorize many names—not only dozens of producers (traditional and otherwise) but also names of communes and vineyards. And finally, like Burgundy, Barolo can be quite inconsistent. The highs are high and the lows, very low. And it doesn’t come cheap. More on this a bit later.
I’m not sure how much nebbiolo and pinot Noir ultimately do have in common (for example, few seem to be planting Nebbiolo in any other part of the world, nor is there a movie like Sideways extolling its charms). But in terms of geographic complexity, the Burgundy comparison seems to hold true. Barolo, like Burgundy, comes from a specific set of communes, of which there are eleven in Piedmont’s Langhe hills, although only five truly matter. And Barolo lovers describe the characteristics of these communes in as much detail as Burgophiles do vineyards of the Côte d’ Or.
A few generalizations: The commune of Barolo produces wines famed for their concentration, while the wines from the neighboring La Morra commune are more “feminine.” The three other communes, Serralunga d’ Alba, Castig-lione Falletto and Monforte d’ Alba, are all located on Barolo’s eastern side, and they generally tend to produce wines that are bigger, more structured and slower to mature than those from the communes in the west.
Within these five communes are hundreds of vineyards or crus, whose names may or may not appear on the bottle, and they too have different characteristics and varying degrees of fame. Some of the most famous include Brunate, Cannubi, Cannubi Boschis, Bussia and Fiasc—but, as with Burgundy, a single vineyard name isn’t necessarily a guarantee of greatness. A further complication that not even Burgundy can match is the fact that some of the best producers don’t make single-vineyard wines but blends. (Imagine a great Burgundy producer deciding to put a little Musigny into his Chambertin.) This was the general practice among most Barolo producers until Ceretto and others decided to bottle single-vineyard wines.
Gianlucca Grasso
With so many variables of producers, communes, vineyards and blends, not to mention variation of vintages (though Barolo has thankfully had quite good ones in recent years), I decided to tackle the question of greatness by simply tasting wines from as many producers and vintages as possible. So I called up various Barolo importers and asked them to send along a few bottles, preferably both new and old. The latter was a bit of a challenge, since older Barolos, like older Burgundies, can be hard to find and quite expensive. (Unlike Burgundy, however, it’s still possible to find good 10-year-old Barolos for under $100 a bottle.)
The latest Barolo vintage is 2003, and the wines were released fairly recently. That was the year of the great summer heat wave in Europe, and I expected the wines to be a little more accessible than traditional Barolo—lighter both in body and color, though still quite tannic and hard. These were the wines I was planning to taste when my friend Kate called to invite me to her dinner party.
“ Barolo? Isn’t that a great Italian wine?” Kate said excitedly when I described my project to her. “Why don’t you bring some along?” I didn’t have time to explain that greatness was exactly the quality I was hoping to determine. To Kate, and to most people I know, “great” was just another word for expensive.
I brought along five bottles of Barolo, all of them from the 2003 vintage, produced by both Modernists and Traditionalists. The Ca’ Rome’ Vigna Cerretta, a Modernist wine, proved the most popular, probably because it was the easiest to drink, with lots of sweet, ripe fruit. Second was the Cascina Bongiovanni, also made in a Modernist, fruit-forward style. The Michele Chiarlo Cerequio, a compromise between Modernist and Traditionalist techniques, pleased the crowd with its depth, richness and high price (almost $100 a bottle) but was denounced for its lack of color (the guests didn’t realize that, with a few notable exceptions, Barolo is almost never a very dark wine).
As for the also-ran wines, the Vietti Lazzarito Castiglione Falletto and the Marcarini, made by two excellent Traditionalist producers, were more difficult for the crowd to appreciate, mostly on account of their firm, tannic structure; both were fairly austere.
“ You can’t drink those wines right now; they’re too young,” I explained to one of the guests as he looked longingly at Kate’s bottle of the 2005 Jim Barry The Cover Drive Australian Cabernet. “Well, when can you drink them?” he replied, though clearly what he meant was, “Then why did you bring them?”
Barolo may or may not be an intellectual’s wine, but this much is certain: It’s definitely not a wine for drinking with a crowd. I decided to taste the rest of the young Barolos myself.
My solo experience, however, was inconclusive. The E. Pira & Figli and the Luigi Einaudi Cannubi, two Modernist wines from the great 2001 vintage, proved surprisingly lush and ripe, full of sweet fruit and soft tannins. But other 2001 Barolos were more difficult to assess at such a young age, like the impressively structured Domenico Clerico Ciabot Mentin Ginestra (Modernist) and the Vietti Brunate (Traditionalist), while some seemed to be mostly tannins and acid (the Modernist Prunotto). Perhaps the challenge wasn’t so much determining Barolo’s greatness but figuring out exactly what Barolo was. Could a Barolo that was enjoyable to drink at a relatively young age (six years or so) still be considered a great wine? Or even a Barolo at all? After all, one of the chief tenets of Traditionalist producers is that Barolo should not be ready to drink without 10 or 15 years of aging—and it should still have the capacity to develop for decades after that, too. Many of the wines I tasted were delicious and well made, but none seemed to have the structure of a wine that was potentially great except the Vietti Brunate and the Clerico—and yet they were made by two different types of producers, one Traditionalist, the other Modernist.
Maybe what I needed was to taste wines from a vintage that Barolo makers themselves acknowledged was ready to drink. According to Luciano Sandrone, one of the most acclaimed of all Modernists, that vintage was 1996. I’d met Sandrone when he was in Manhattan to promote his 2003 wines—big, rich, intense Barolos that were still incredibly youthful.
“ What about 1997?” I’d asked him. My friend Scott Manlin, a wine collector from Chicago, had mentioned he’d opened a bottle of 1997 Sandrone Cannubi Boschis—Sandrone’s most famous wine, which costs hundreds of dollars a bottle—a few weeks ago. “My friend Scott said the wine was terrific.” (Scott had actually said “Great juice,” but I wasn’t sure Sandrone would understand this as a compliment.) “That wine isn’t ready yet,” Sandrone replied.
by Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Daniel Bellino-Zwicke (R)
New York, NY


I drank trhough and tasted all of Italo's phenominal Barbarescos as well as his; Dolcetto,
Pinot Noir, and Barbaresco Santa Stefano ... Italo is The King of Santa Stefano .. He has the only vineyard. He used to sell fruit to Bruno Giacosa, but the contract is up and Italo will be the only one in the World making narbaresco Santa Stefano from now on. We drank the base Barbaresco Castello del Neive 2009 and the Barbaresco Santa Stefano 2009, both awesome, but the Santa Stefano had a slight edge of awesomeness. But not by much, both are great wines, perfectly balanced with fine fruit, and perfect examples of what a great Barbaresco should be. They are Textbook. It was great to see Italo again. He is the man! I just love that guy, and would rather drink his Barbaresco over anyone else's. ANd this of course includes Angelo Gaja, who makes some great Barbaresco, but the prices are through the roof, and dollare for dollar I'd put Italo's up against Gaja's any-day-of-the week .. You can't do any better ... Although I must say, I really enjoyed Anjelo's offerings last year when I tasted the wines at a tasting in New York with Anjelo and daughter Gaia ..

Daniel Bellino Z with Alessandro Mori of Il Maronetta Brunello

New York, NY
Montcalm Wines Portfolio Tatsing

Alessandro tasted me on his latest vintages of his estates awesome Brunello ..
I really loved the 2008 Brunello Normale and the Brunello Reserva Madonna del Grazia 2008 was off the charts awesome .. The 2009 Brunello and Brunello Ros. Madonna del Grazia where awesome as well ... Alessandro let me have a taste of the Brunello 2010, which was a bottle tasting and has not been released.. The 2010 Brunellos, by law cannot be released to January 2015 and this was a nice suprise advanced tasting of a 2010 Brunello .. Alessandro was beaming. He is very proud of the wine and he said the vintage is one of the best. "I wouldn't disagree."


with His Families




Monday, January 6, 2014


94 on a 100 Point Scale

Barolo Aldo Conterno "Cicala" 2001 ...  It's a classic Barolo from one of Barolo's finest producers, Aldo Conterno .. Cicala is a single -vineyard Barolo .. I'll take this oportunity for those who may not know, a single-vineyard wine is one in which all the fruit that goes into that particular wine comes from one sight-specific vineyard area .. These single vineyard vineyards are located on an estate in small plot that has the best growing conditions for wine within a larger area .. The sight is usually special because it gets the best sun light and is usually on a southern faceing vineyard, possibly on a hill and has good drainage and other terrain elements beneficial to maximum grap growing ...
  Back to the Aldo Conterno Barolo Cicala 2001 .. As we've already stated, Aldo Conterno is a great Barolo producer and this wine comes from a famous single-vineyard .. Now moving on to the vintage, 2001 in Barolo and Barbaresc was one of the greatest Barolo vintages ever, along with 2000, 1996, 1989, 1990 and others ..
   We opened a couple a few bottles at this party, and they were all in great condition, properly cellared for the whole of their lives. Decanted, the color and aroma were marvelous and no signs of any faults such as Bret, oxidation, be cooked or corked. Yes the bottles were in excellent conditon. The aromas were classic Barolo as was the taste, of which the wine had many marvels, including; Alcohol Soaked Cherries, Truffle, tar, and Licorice .. I loved the wine, one of the finest Barolo's I have ever tasted and I've tasted many running the Inoteca at Del Posto, Bar Cichetti and Barbetta Wine Director for 4 1/2 years were I tasted the likes of Ceretto Bricco Rocche Barolo 1990,  Renato Ratti Barolo Riserva 1990, Marcarini Barolo Brunat 1996, Bartolo Mascarello Barolo 1996, 97 and 1990, Gaja Barolo "Sperss" 1990, Giacamo Conterno Monfortino 1978  1989 1990, and Cavolotto Barolo Bricco Boschis 1990 and 1996. Mascarello barolo "Monprivato" 1990 1989 & 1996 just to name a few of the many I have had over the years ... With all this said and done, I'll tell you this Conterno Barolo "Cicala" 2001 is the best Barolo I've had in the past 5 years or so, and I'd deffinately rank it way up there with all the great Barolo I've tasted over the years including many from the great 1989 1990 1996 1997 2000 and 2001 vintages .. I'd rate this Cicala 2001 about a 93 on a 100 point scale if I was forced to do so .. But my best way of describing this or any great wine is; that I Loved it, I couldn't get enough of it and wanted more, when all was gone. The wine was memorable and a joyous pleasure to drink. Bravo Ado!

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

photo Daniel Bellino-Zwicke

Sunday, November 10, 2013


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Robert Parker
Most Wine Drinkers may not know this, but they'd be well advised not to ever listen to Robert Parker and his ill-advised wine news-letter The Wine Advocate. Not if they want the best wine drinking experience possible and they want to choose a good wine to go with their meal, they will not follow the terrible advice and reviews that Robert Parker gives on wine. The kind of wines Parker loves the most are overly oaked, Overly-Rich, heavily concentrated wine that are crafted to be Heavy Thick Full Bodied Oaky Fruit-Bomb Wines. Wines that clash with food instead of complimenting it. If it was up to Robert Parker he'd have all the wines in the World tasting like over-manipulated, big, fat powerful wines like California Cabernets and Meritage Blends instead of wonderful food complementary wines like; Chianti, Barolo, Brunello, Beaujlais, some Bordeaux wines and the like. Wines  that go well with food instead of clashing with it as many of the so-called Parkerized Wines do. The man has ruined the publics perception to what good wine is and should be. The public thinks because he is a famous wine writer, that he knows best and what he's talking about. Maybe he does, but the style of wine he likes, well?     If the general public wants the best wine drinking experience possible, they'd be wise to steer clear of The Wine Advocate and any wine advice dished out by Parker.
      Robert Parker's advice on wine is advice that steers and influences peoples perceptions of what great wine is, into a quite a bad, almost one-dimensional place of homogenized overly thick un-natural wines. People should stop taking advice of Robert Parker, the World of Wine would be a much better place, a place of real wine that is  It SUCKS! Robert Parker's advice reviews, and Ratings of Wine that is.
     If you want to is true to the local terroir of whereever any particular wine might come from. In other words, Chianti should taste like Chianti, Barolo like Barolo, and Bordeaux like Bordeaux and not like a "Big Fat" California or Autralian Cabernet or Meritage Blended Wine and such.  People should drink Wonderful Wines that go great with food and are "Real Natural Wines" the kind of Wines that were made for 100 of years and still are except for those wines made by owners who have fallen into to whole Robert Parker "Spin Doctor" realm and make "Overly-Concentrated Wine" that taste fake and un-natural, they are manipulated and are the kind of wines that Parker likes and gives High 90 Plus Ratings to.
   Drink real Chianti (not any that contain Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot), drink Barolos that have been aged in large gentile Slovenian Oak Cask instead of small 225 liter Barrique Barrels that make many wines taste more of Wood (the way Parker likes them) than beautiful unadulterated with natural fruit (Grapes). Wines like; Brunello, Cote du Rhones, and just about anything other than overly-concentrated, overly Oaked, minipulated overly-oaked wines from Australia and over-powering Californian and Australian monsters and you'll be doing OK.
   "Just DON'T Listen to anything ROBERT PARKER and his highly popular but we say awful newsletter "The Wine Advocate" has to say or Write about Wine." The man almost single handily Destroyed what Good Wine "is" and should be.
Be "Anti-Parker" you'll be glad you did. "Do." Daniel Bellino Zwicke