Showing posts with label Chianti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chianti. Show all posts

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, September 19, 2021

Fontodi Chianti 2018 Vintage






Nestled below the hilltop town of Panzano is a “golden basin” known as the conca d’oro, an amphitheater-shaped ring of vineyards that produce some of Tuscany’s most celebrated wines. Since 1968, the Fontodi estate has been the most prominent producer in the region. Fontodi and the master butcher, Dario Cecchini (whose shop is just up the hill), have given the hilltown of Panzano an international reputation.  

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

I first tasted the Fontodi Chianti 20018 on September 2018. I remember the date easily as it was just last week, and I remember it was on a Monday, and the sad 20 Year Anniversary of 9/11 and the attack of The World Reade Center Twin Towers on Tuesday September 11th, 2000. 

I was at the bar at Monte's Trattoria in Greenwich Village when I first tasted this wine. Now I want to point out as your average person soesn't think of these things, that when it comes to wine, vintages are different, and no vintage of any given named wine ever taste exactly the same. They may sometimes one vintage may taste similar to another, but never exactly the same. So when I said this was the first time that I tasted the 2018 Fontodi Chianti, one might think it was the first time I ever drank it. No, no, no. I first drank Fontodi Chianti Chianti curiously enough, in 1997 at the Fontodi Estate in Panzano, with none other than Mr. Giovanni Manetti, one of the family members who own  the Fontodi Estate, and wines. This was in my early years and second stage of really delving into Italian Wine in a major way. My friend Fianfranco had set up the tasting, so it was way back in 1997 that I first tasted the famed Super Tuscan wine Flacinella produced by the Manetti Family in Panzano at Fontodi, along with their Chianti, and Reserve Chianti "Vigna del Sorbo" as well as their Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Vin Santo wines. Giovanni is a wonderful host, and treated us well, and over the yearsm I gave attended numerous luncheons, wine tastings, and Wine Dinners with the man.

Now back to the current vintage. So, I first started drinking the Chainti, Flacinella, and Vin Santo of the Fontodi Estate, and I've have drunk most every vintage of these wines since then, and have had many good times drinking these wonderful wines, usually occopanied by some tasty Italian food.

So it was on this day in 2021 that I first tasted this wonderful wine, the Fontodi Chianti 2018, and what a day it was. I poured the wine into the glass, gave it a little sniff, then took my first taste. Wow! It blew my mind. The wine was spectacular. It tasted oh so good, and I took another sip. Wow. I noticed the wine to be fully flavored, with what I call perfect balance of the fruit, with wonderful flavors of sour cherry and black fruits that filled my mouth and gave me a most wonderful feeling. The wine was simply great, and I was enjoyng it immensly as I had recalled another Fonodi wine a couple years before that was one of those special wines, like this wine, I wine that I go bonkers for, and just cant't get it out of my mind. That other Fontodi wine I'm speaking of was the 2010 vintage of Fontodi's famed Super Tuscan wine Flacinello, another wine I went simply bonkers for, and remember it to this very day. There are other wines that have givien ne the same reaction, especially any nunber of Barolo's and Barbaresco from the 1996 vintage of thise wine, the 1996 being my favorite vinatge all time for these wines, and that includes the much lauded 2000, 2001, and 1997 vintage, I like the 1996 vintage Barolo the best, Anyway, lets get back to the Fontodi Chianti and the 2018 at that.

When I describe a wine, I don't like to go crazy with too much descriptions, going on and on, if you know what I mean. If I say I love it, and that the wine is in perfect balance, of having some nice fruit, the right weight, and just the right amount of acid and tannins in the wines make-up, then I don't need to say a whole lot more, other than 1 to 3 prominent taste (flavors) of the wine. That's it. Basta!

So in closing, I think you already know I love this wine. I feel it is a great wine, and perfectly balanced, and thouhg I might want to tell friends about it, and talk on it a bit, the main thing I want to do is drink it.

Giovanni Manetti



In the Spring of 1997 I had a most wonderful time at the Villa Calcinaia in Greve, Italy. The wine estate is owned by the Noble Florentien Family the Capponi's of Florence Italy and Greve who have been making wine for some 600 years now. My friend Hilda who was a friend of the two young Italian Counts Niccola and Sebastiano Conti Capponi. We met Hilda at her shop in Flroence and then walked a couple blocks to the Capponi Family Palazzo just about 100 feet from The Onte Vecchio (bridge) on the Arno River in Fierenze. Niccola came out and we were introduced. We chatted a few minutes, then Moran hopped in Niccola's Fiat Panda and headed to the Villa Calcinaia estate in Greve. It's just about 17 miles south of FLorence and we arrived about 40 minutes later. Niccola's brother, Conti Sebastiano Capponi met us outside the castle. A few minutes later we went inside, and walked into the 500 kitchen, where the cook was there preparing our meal on a open-hearth fire. A few minutes later Niccolabegan our tour of the castle and cellars below. He lead us down a stone hallway and announced "I will now take you to our 300 year old Mother." What, I thought. 

Niccoloa lead us into a room and said, "Here is our Mother. She is 300 years old." He explained that the mother was the starter to make Chianti Vinegar from wine. The mother must be kept alive, and this one was 300 years old. "Wow!"  Afterseeing the mother, Niccola took us to another special room, were Trebbiano grapes were hanging and drying in order to make the Tuscan Elixir known as Vin Santo. Niccola explained the process which wasthe first time I learnt of how Vin Santo was made, and from an Italian Count no less. Niccola then took us into one of the barrel rooms, where there were many large Slovenian Oak Botte, filled with Chiant. Niccola pulled out a theif and removed some of the aging Chianti with it, and filled our glasses with some of the wine. Wow, I loved it, my first ever barrel sample. "I loved it."

After talking about their process of making Chianti, and other tidbits of info, Niccola lead us outside to look at some of the vineyards and vegetable and herb garden. It was a beautiful Summer's day in Chianti Classico, in Tuscan, and here I was being given a personal wine tour by two of the Conti Capponi at their beautiful wine estate Villa Calcinaia in Greve, and we were about to have lunch inside the castle with the two counts. This was awesome.

Sebastiano lead us to the dining room. It was lovely. I really liked the country elgance of it. We settled in, as Sbeasiano poured us some wine. It was Villa Calcinaia Chianti of course. It was the 1995, and it was quite nice. We also drank some of 1993 vintage as well. The cook brough in platters of Salumi and Pecorino Toscano, both made in house on the property. I dug in, and savored every bite of the tasty cheese and salami. I really loved the wine. The second course was a simple, yet tasty plate of Macccheroni Pomodoro.For the main course, we had Roast Wild Boar that we saw the cook preparing previously in the kitchen when we entered the castle. We finished the meal with the wonderful Vin Santo of Villa Calcinaia with some homemade biscotti as Sebastiano and Niccola continued talking about the wine and the history of Villa Calcinaia, while my business partner Tom and I told them of the Venetian Wine Bar (Bacaro), Bar Cichetti that we were opening in New York. 

Our time with the Conti Capponi could not have been better. The counts we wonderful host, showing us around and especially to treat us to such a memeroable lunch. It was truly spectacular. "Grazie Mille."

We left Villa Calcinaia and turned right and south toward Panzano. We were on the Chiantiagana Road which runs the entire length of the Chianti Classico region, from north to south. The road is an ancient old Roman Road, and is quite beautiful. It was a shor 15 minute ride to the Fontodi Wine Estate in Panzano. We pulled in and were greeted by Mr. Giovanni Manetti, one of the owners of Fontodi. Fontodi is one of the top wine estates in the area, producing fine Chianti, Vin Santo, and their famous 100% Sangiovese Super Tuscan wine Flacinello. Giovanno showed us around the estate, then brought us to the tasting room were he tasted us on the full line-up of Fontodi Wines. He told us about all the wine as we tasted each, and he gave us a breif history of the estate.We finished up and jumped in our car to head back to Florence. 

The day was absolutely wonderful, visiting Villa Calcinaia, having lunch with the Counts of Capponi, and spending some nice time tasting Fontodi wines with Giovanni. We went back to our hotels to rest. If the day wasn't already wonderful enough, that night we had one of the most wonderfully memorable meals of my entire life. I was staying at a modest hotel, while Tom and Moran were staying at The Grand Hotel just off the Arno near the Ponte Vecchio. After taking a little nap and a shower I went over to The Grand to meet-up with the guys for dinner.  I waited in the lobby and Tome came down. Moran arrived a few minutes later. We had a coupke Campari's in the beautiful lobby of the hotel, which is one of the most stunning hotels I've ever been in in my life. And I've been in some of the World's most luxurious hotels all around the World. The Grand of Florence, Italy may very well have them all beat, as far as beauty is concerned. 

We enjoyed our coctails until our taxi arrived, then jump in and made our way to the restaurant. The Concierge at The GRand reccomended it to Tom. The restaurant is called Pandomonio, and the dinner that dinght might vert well be the most wonderful and enjoyable of my life. It is a wonderful trattoria, run by a lady that everyone calls "Mamma," and she runs the restauarant with the help of her sister-in-law in the dining-room and her son in the kitchen.

We had some Crostini Toscana (Chicken Liver), Artichokes, and varous Salumi, and cheese for our antipasto. For the main course, we ordered a beautiful Bisteca Fiorentina for the three of us, and a bottle of Bioni Sante Brunello 1993. Mamma rolled over a cart with the wine and 4 wine glasses. She open the wine, and pour Brunello into our three glasses. She smiled and said, "some for Mamma," and pour a little Brunello for herself. We all laughed and smiled, clicked our glasses together with Mamma and said. "Cento Anni," meaning, may you live 100 years. Our meal was most enjoyable. Tom, Moran, and I really enjoyed the wine, antipasti, and the delcious T-Bone Steak, but even more chit chatting, Mamma and her interactions with us, and the whole feel of the room.

After we were done eating and there were just about 8 or 10 people left in the place, Mamma pushed all the tables together so everyone left in the trattoria were all sitting together. And so we all continued drinking, chatting and making merry for another hour and a half before leaving the restaurant, kissing Mamma good night, and we headed back to our hotels. "Wow! What a day," and still I must say oen of the best days of my life and one I shall never foregt.

A little foot note. I had such a great time at Pandomonio that night, I was able to return a couple more times, for more wonderful meals, and hanging out with Mamma. And I have sent some friends and family to Pandomonio over the years, and everyone I have ever told to go there, and they went, every single person has told me that their meal at Pandomonio was the best and most fun of their entire trip. Now that's saying something. "Bravo to Mamma!"


Daniel Bellino Zwicke










Sunday, May 16, 2021

Tuesday, September 15, 2015



Winemaker of Sassicaia & Punica Wines SEBASTIANO ROSA
with Author Daniel Bellino Zwicke and Roberta Morrel of Morrel WInes
Get Toegther for a lillte Wine and Chat at Kobrand Italian Portfolio Tasting
at The Bowery Hotel, New York, New York

Alberto Chiarlo with Author Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
Alberto Chiarlo the proprietor of Michele Chiarlo  Wines 
of Piedmonte got together for a tasting of Alberto's latest vingtages
of wine, including Barbera Le Orme, Barolo Tortoniano 2010,
Michele Chairlo Barbaresco 2011, Barolo Cerequio 2010,
and Barolo Canubi Michele Chairlo 2007 & 2001 Vintgaes ..
Daniel said the whole line-up of wines was absolutely Amazing! everything was in perfect balance, full of flavor and a joy to drink.


Emelia Nardi with Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
Tatsing some Great Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.19.46 PM

The 1999 Il PARETO From Nozzole Was ROCKING !!!
I normally don't go crazy for non-native Italian Varietals when drinking Italian Wine. That said, I absolutely loved the 1999 Vintage of Tenuta Nozzole's "Il PARETO" a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon based wine that was amazing. It was full of flavor,perfecting and a absolute Joy to Drink. I loved It!
The WINES From MASI Where Also AMAZING !!!

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Masi Agricola
I loved all of the Amarone 's that Masi was showing at the Italian Portfolio Tasting ..
The were showing Amarone Mazano 2007 which was really nic and heavy on the prune flavors.
The 2007 Amarone Campolong was awesome as was the Amarone Costera 2009 ..
My favorite Amarone of the day was Seregho Aligheri 2008 which is one of the few wines in the world aged in large Cherry Wood Cask .. The wine was AMAZING !!!
Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.24.46 PM
Recipes From My Sicilian Grandmother
by Daniel Bellino Zwicke
When Italian-Americans Cook
by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke

Monday, April 20, 2015


Castello Verrazzano, Greve in Chianti

Friends of Chianti

Cavelieri Luigi Cappellini (L)
Meets with Author Daniel Bellino "Z"
42 nd Street






I Drank some Col D'orcia Brunello today at the Palm Bay Portfolio Tasting
at the New York Public Library Main Branch (42nd Street)
in New York ttoday ..  I drank both the 2009 & 2010 Vintages and they were both spectacular, text book Brunello  ... I loved both these vintages equally and not one more than the other. Both were perfectly in balance and drinking wonderfully at this moment in time (April 2015).

Wine Director Daniel Bellino Z

Tatste Some Brunello

Count Francesco Cinzano

of Col D'Orcia

at DeGrezia

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


by Daniel Bellino Zwicke

SEGRETO ITALIANO Secret Recipes & Favorite Italian Dishes by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke

Secret RecipesFavorite Italian Dishes
by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke

SEGRET ITALIANO is Available on AMAOZN KINDLE and Soon to Published in Paperback SEGRETO ITALIANO - Secret Italian Recipes & Favorite Dishes by DANIEL BELLINO-ZWICKE author of La TAVOLA, The FEAST of THE 7 FISH and # 1 BEST SELLER SUNDAY SAUCE - When Italian-Americans Cook ... 

  OK, so you love Italian Food, “Yes?” Who doesn’t? You may not know how to cook, or maybe you do and want to add some Great Recipes to your repertoire. You may feel It’s high time you learned how to make an awesome Italian Pasta Sauce, “Hey, everyone should!” But, what kind; Tomato, Marinara, Bolognese? Or maybe you already have a number of recipes, but do you have recipes for; Clemenza’s Godfather Sunday Sauce or Danny Bolognese’s Ragu Bolognese? No, we didn’t think so! How about Gino’s Top-Secret Salsa Segrete from the beloved old New York Red-Sauce Joint “Gino’s of Capri?” Well, now it’s time for you to delve into SEGRETO ITALIANO and find rare and Secret Recipes, and learn how to make make Italian-America's favorite dishes, dishes like; Cacciucco, Lucia’s Jersey Braciole, Uncle Pete’s Baked Rabbit, Jersey Shore Crab Sauce, or Serio Maccioni’s original recipe of the World Famous Pasta Primavera. Segreto Italiano is a celebration of Italian Food and Italian-America and is filled with countless recipes and wonderful stories of Italian Food and culture, like only Daniel Bellino “Z” can tell. Delight in Daniel’s wonderful storytelling and savor the recipes, the wonderfully delicious dishes of Segreto Italiano. Now it's time to "Mangia Bene Tutti" LEARN HOW to MAKE GINO'S FAMOUS SALSA SEGRETE, CLEMENZA MOB WAR SUNDAY SAUCE and Other Secret and Rare Recipes in Daniel Bellino Ziwkce's SEGRETO ITALIANO - Secret Italian Recipes & Favoirte Italian-American Dishes ... MANGIA BENE !!!!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

BRUNELLO TASTING 2009 Vintage in New York

Precious Vines
Sangiovese Grosso 
aka Brunello
Near Sant Antimo

Dam, another year has come and gone .. It's hard to beleive another year has already gone by.
Seems just like yesterday the last Benvenuto Bruneelo Tasting at Gotham Hall in New York, happily tasting Montalcino's latest release of the 2008 vintage Brunello's along with Brunello Riserva 2007 and Rosso di Montalcino's of 2011 .. Some really wonderful Brunello last year .. i can remember loving the offerings of; Donatella Cinelli Columbini 2008, Col d'Orcia 2008, Barbi Resierva 2007, and Uccelliera 2008, and Silvio Nardi 2008 ..  

I attended a great Siminar on Brunello conducted by the great Kevin Zraly where we tasted some wonderful current vintage Brunello including the just mention offerings as well as
Il Poggione Riserva 1999 and Col d'Orcia Brunello 2001, both great vintages and now aged quite well.
The seminar conducted by Mr. Zraly was phenominal as usual and when I inquired if Kevin was going to do it again, I was dissapointed to hear he wasn't .. They got someone else whose name I do not recognize .. Hopefully the lady will conduct a fun, informative seminar, but after attending Zraly's last year, I doubt if  very many could match Kevin's wonderful performance. "Cie la Vie."

At the tasting last year, one of my suppliers asked if he the Count Francesco Maroni Cinzano by, as he wanted to give me a personal 1-on-1 tasting of his latest offerings. Of course I said yes, "Do you think I'm a Mad-Man?" Maybe? Well the Count came by the next day with some phenominal Brunello's, including; his 2008 Vintage, Rosso di Montalcino 2010, Col d'Orcia Brunello 2001, and the amazing Col d'Orcia Brunell "Col Vento Riserva" 2004 .. That wine is amazing and one of the best bottles of Brunello I tasted all year. And Poggio Al Vento 2004 was just being released in 2013, it was incrediable .. All the Counts wines are quite wonderful, and he also brought along a nice wine he makes at his property in Chile .. The wine "Erasmo" is a very fine Bordeaux Blend that I quite like, I put on my list, along with The Counts Brunello both 2005 and 2008 vintages which have been selling extremely well and our customers just love them ...

"DON'T TOUCH IT !!! DON'T TOUCH IT !!! " Cried Kevin Zraly, startling some, scarring others at last years Brunello Seminar he conducted at Benvento Brunello 2013 at Gotham Hall in New York ...
You can read more on Mr. Zraly and the 2013 Brunello tasting in my article "Brunello Tripel Header" at Ny-Foodie

Fattoria di Barbi Table at NY Brunello Tasting 2013
BARBI BRUNELLO "One of My Favorite Brunello Houses"

Daniel Bellino-Zwicke & Count Francesco Maroni Cinzano
Drinking The Count's Famed Brunello

Poggio AL Vento
Brunello Di Montalcino

"one of the Best Brunello's I've ever had, and I've had some Great Ones;
Val d' Cava Madonna 1990, Angelo Sassetti 1990, Barbi Riserva 1995, Poggio Antico 1997
and many more ....


Brunello di Montalcino is a visibly limpid, brilliant wine, with a bright garnet colour. It has an intense perfume, persistent, ample and ethereal. One can recognize scents of undergrowth, aromatic wood, berries, light vanilla and jam. 
To the taste the wine has an elegant harmonious body, vigorous and racy, it is dry with a lengthy aromatic persistence.
Because of its characteristics, Brunello can be aged for a long time, improving as the years go by. It is not easy to determine exactly for how many years it improves. It depends on the vintage. It varies from a minimum of 10 years to around 30 years, but it can be kept for even longer. Naturally it must be kept in the right way: in a cool cellar, but above all with a constant temperature, in the dark, without noises and smells; the bottles should be laid horizontally.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Alessandro Cellai Castellare Daniel Bellino NY


With New York Italian Wine Guy Author Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
At DeGrezia Restorante, NEW YORK

Wednesday, October 16, 2013



Wine Director
Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
DeGrezia Restorante
New York
Cavalier Luigi Cappellini


Verrazzano Rosso
Chianti Classico
Chianti Classico Riserva
The Wines I Tasted 
with Luigi Cappellini
DeGrezia Restorante

Luigi and I Drank
"One of The Greatest Wines of The Year"

Verrazzano Cellars


Vino Santo

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Most Important Italian Wine Tasting of The Year

Yes, the most important Italian Wine Event of the Year is upon us, The 2013 Tre Bicchieri Tasting of Gambero Rosso is tomorrow (Domani) at The Metropolitan Pavillion. All the Big Guns of Italian Wine will be in attendance, including New York's Top Italian Wine People and many of Italy's top-producers (Italian Wine Estate Owners and Winemakers) will be on hand.
  This tasting, the Tre Bicchieri is of Italy's Top Wines as voted by Gambero Rosso, The Wine Spectator of Italy. Will be tasting many great Italian Wines, like; Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello, Super Tuscans, Taurasi, and the top White, Dessert, and Sparkling Wines. Oh happy day. Along with tasting all the great Italian Wine, really my favorite aspect of this tasting is a chance to see some of my good friends (Wine Producer), taste their wines and chat a little bit. Always quite a lot of fun.

Stay tuned for tomorrows Report of my favorite wines of the day and who I ran into. Caio for now, Daniel.