Showing posts with label Super Tuscan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Super Tuscan. Show all posts

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










Monday, August 10, 2020

Chianti Brunello Italian Wine

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Just Beautiful


A Scene in TUSCANY

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Tuscan CountrySide


Vines of Castel Verrazano

Greve in Chianti

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Castello Verrazzano

Greve, ITALY


Italian Cookbook Author DANIEL BELLINO Z




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"There's a lot of Tasty CHIANTI in those BARRELS" !!!

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Large Slovenian Oak Cask in the Cellars of CASTELLO VERRAZZANO

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My Favorite BRUNELLO of ALL


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In the Cellars of FATTERIA Dei BARBI

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"Drink some Brunello" !!!



When Italian-Americans Cook

Daniel Bellino-Zwicke




Sunday, September 22, 2019

Fontodi Flaccianello 2010 Greatest Vintage



Greatest Vintage Ever ?



Flaccianello is a SUPER TUSCAN Wine, made by Giovanni Manetti at his Fontodi Estate in Panzano in Chianti Classico, Italy. 

"I've tasted many vintages of Flaccianello over the years, and this is by far my favorite vintage (2010) ever. This wine is awesome, and oh so tasty. I just love it."

... Best Selling Italian Cookbook / Wine Writer Daniel Bellino Zwicke 

June 14, 2109

On the 2010 vintage of FLACCIANELLO



Friday, March 11, 2011



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 include non-traditional secondary grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot? “Certainly not! That would be most sacrilegious.” Well, for sure, I would make a true, authentic Chianti as Chianti is intended to be as set forth more than 130 years ago when Bettino Ricasolo created Chianti and set forth the formula of Chianti being a wine of the a blend of “Native Chianti Classico Grapes.” In this wine “Chianti” the blend was to include as a must a majority of the most famous and cherished of all Tuscan grapes, “Sangiovese.” With Chianti made of primarily Sangiovese as well as complementary native grapes in small percentages which included; Canaiolo, Cielegiolo, Colorino, Mammolo, Malvasia Nero, Malvasia Bianco, and or Trebbiano. Yes this is what true and Real Chianti should be, a wine based on the original and traditional recipe for Chianti, created by the Baron Ricasoli and made just as the creator stated for some 100 years. In the past 40 years two things happened that has gotten Chianti off track to what it was originally and should always be. The first thing, was that back in the 1960 and 1970 many in this most famous of all Italian Wine zones were making Chianti purely for profit without any regard for the traditions and quality of the wine. Many of the producers of Chianti grew high yields of inferior grapes simply to gain a higher gross amount of fruit and juice to make the wine. The governmental powers that be went along with these detrimental practices traded off for higher profits. The Chianti Consorzio allowed for large numbers of White Grape Varietals into the Chianti blend which while making the wine more profitable in sales, had the negative affect of making thinned out inferior wine, if any particular producer (Maker of Chianti) chose to go the “High Profit low Quality” route. Some did, but thank God not all. Many had pride and would not produce a inferior but Superior Chianti.

Finally in 1984, the laws governing what Chianti (The Formula) could and could not be were changed in order to set Higher Standards, making Chianti a Great Quality Wine and eliminating the facts that allowed producers to make Poor Quality wine if they so chose to. They could not any more. The rules for making Chianti which allowed for the possibility to produce inferior Chianti were eliminated. White grape varietals such as Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianco in large quantities were no longer permitted into any wine labeled Chianti. Bravo! If the laws governing the production of Chianti had stayed like this, it would have been a great thing, and all Chianti would be of a high quality and of Long Standing Native Traditions and practices. Chianti was and would be a excellent quality wine that was and tasted as it should, like “Chianti.”

Unfortunately the governing bodies of the Italian Government and Chianti Consorzio did something atrocious in the year 1996. Once again they changed the laws on making Chianti. They made a “Terrible Blunder,” in the name of what they said was to be a better Chianti, they allowed for the use of International grapes such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syhrah. And they allowed for up to 20% of these other grape varietals with the primary grape of Sangiovese being a minimum of 80% to 100% at the producers discretion and desire as to how each individual Estate wanted to make their Chianti. These laws made for a wide range in latitude of Chianti as a whole. Allowing for Chianti that if it had 10% or more of Cabernet Sauvignon or merlot, it would completely change the character of Chianti for those estates that chose to use amounts of even 5% or more of Merlot or Cabernet.

Thank God there was in this large range of latitude in the laws of what was aloud in Chianti and in what percentages, so what we end up is a wide range of different Chianti styles. Not Good! So the laws did allow for Chianti to be made in the traditional and proper manner of Sangiovese as the primary grape with small amounts of other native grapes, to end up with Chianti That taste Like Chianti. Thank God.

Now this all being said the laws for making Chianti also included latitudes for making what can be labeled Chianti and wines that are labeled as Chianti, allowed for wines that do not taste like Chianti. They do not taste like Chianti as they have Merlot and or Cabernet Sauvignon in them. This merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and overpower the more delicate Sangiovese grape, resulting in a wine that does not taste like Chianti, but some kind of Super Tuscan wine or so-called baby Super Tuscan. If you put Merlot or Cabernet into what is supposed to be Chianti, that wine will not have the character of Chianti, which should be a light to medium body wine that has nice easy drink fruit flavors with some earthiness and maybe a tad of spice.

What a Chianti should not be, is a Big Full Bodied Fruit Bomb wine, nor anything approaching it, as some Reserve Chiantis are these days.

As stated, a Chianti should be light to medium bodied. This does not mean that it should be thin or lack substance. It should definitely have flavor, but in a more subtle and restrained manor which makes the wine go well with the food you are eating and not overpower it as many wines tend to do these days.

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 Chainti 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, even if just 2% of another native grape such as Colorino, Canaiolo, or Cielegiolo were added. Chianti must always be a blende wine, dominated by mostly Sangiovese (at least 85%) with a smaller percentage of native grapes. The region of Chianti Classico is one of the World’s 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 Cecchini. 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!”


Below is a Small LIST of TRUE CHIANTI’S made primarily with Sangiovese with small amounts of native sub-varities such as Canaiolo, Malvasia Nero, Colorino, and Celegiolo and not containing any Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syhrah, or any International Varieties “What-so-Ever.”.

Monsanto “Il Poggio” Chianti Classico Riserva

Castello Verazzano Chianti Classico

Castello Brolio Chainti Classico Reserva

Castellow Querceto Chianti Classico

Vignamaggio Chinati Classico Riserva “Mona Lisa”

Rufino Chianti Classico Riserva “Ducale” (Gold Label)

Selvapiana Chianti Rufina

Badia Coltobuono

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Friday, September 19, 2008

Big Guns of Italian Wine

Some ot the "Big Guns" of ITALIAN WINE where in Town and at the Winebow Portfolio Tasting on September 16th & 17th. First-Off was Vittorio Fiore, one of the Greatest Italian Winemakers of this time or anytime. Vittorio was Show his renowned Super Tuscan Wine "Il Carbonaione "Vittorio produces Il Carbonaione on his beautiful wine estate Podere Poggio Scalette high up in one of Greve's highest vineyards where you can see the whole Chianti Classico wine zone from this vantage point. It is a beautiful sight where I have been forunate on two occasions to spend time tasting wine with Vittorio and his sons while nibbling on the wonderful homemade Salami and Prosciutto that son and Vineyard Manager Jyuri Fiore makes with the help from great old friend "Dante." Dante is a wonderful old village farmer who knows how to make fantastic Salumi, among other things. He's a absolute gem!Il Carbonaione is made of 100% Sangiovese. The 2004 vintage that Vittorio was pouring at the tasting was absolute perfection, strong but not too concentrated, exhibiting nice Black Cherry and earthiness in ,the mouth. Vittorio says it is one of his best vintage ever, "I agree completely."Merilisa Allegrini (another Heavy Hitter) was on hand as well. Showing all the great Allegrini wines, including; La Grolla, La Poja, and thier 2003 Amarone, which as usual is one of the regions top producers of famed Amarone.Giuseppe Tasca d' Almerita was present. Giuseppe and his family make one of Sicily's most famous and renowned wines "Rosso del Conte" Rosso del Conte is mad of 100% Nero d'Avola. This wine along with "Duca Enrico" is the greatest and most prestigious in all of Sicily. When tasted, I had a incrediable explosion of Ripe Red Fruit flavors in my mouth. The wine was phenomenal, smooth, silky, and perfectly balance as Rosso del Conte usually is. This is one of Italy most consistently wonderful premium wines. "Always Great!"