Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tre Bicchieri 2013

Yes Boys and Girls, all you Italian Wine Lovers out there, the most Important Italian Wine tasting of the year is almost upon us. The 2013 Tre Bicchieri Tasting of Italy's Top Wines "Tre Bicchieri" will take place on February 15, 2013 .. I can hardly wait as I look forward to this tasting every year, as I get to see many friends from Italy. The friends are the Wine Producers (Wine Estate Owners and Winemakers) of many of Italy's top estates. Friends such as; Gianpaolo Motta of 
"La Massa" in the beautiful town of Panzano in Chianti Classico, good buddy Antonio Rallo (fellow Sicilian) of Donnafugata in Marsala, Francesca Planeta of Planet also in Sicily, Miralisa Allegrini of Allegini and their famed Amarone near Lago de Garda and the Veneto, Sebastiano Rosa famed winemaker of Sassicaia and cousin Piero Incisa Rocheeto of Tenuta San Guido the estate of Sassicaia and many more, like the affable Alessandor Landini of Vitticio in Greve and the Columbini's of Brunello producer Fattoria Barbi.
 Yes we will be tasting Brunello, Barolo, Barbaresco, and my favorite, Chianti. I can't wait and I bet you can't as well, Tre Bicchieri New York 2013, I will report back on my favorites after the tasting. For now it's Caio !

Thursday, May 10, 2012


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The Summit

M. LISINI of LISINI with His Fine Offerings of LISINI BRUNELLO 2007

and LISINI Brunello Uggolaia riserva 2006








   Well I was wondering what to expect when my cousin Joe asked me if I wanted to go to Brunello tasting at City Winery with him. He said it was with James Suckling (a Top guy at Wine Spectator and # 1 with Italian Wines for WSp) and David Suckiling.. Joe didn't give me details so I figured it was a Wine Spectator Event which is usually more about a lot of BSing making Money for the Wine Spectator and Markin Shanken as well as sucking up than anything else. Well me being in the wine and restaurant industry for more than 20 years, I go to a multitude of industry Wine Tastings, Wine Luncheons and Wine Dinners along with other events of the highest caliber. this tasting was geared toward retail buyers and novice wine enthusiast, a pay to go to event. Not the kind I usually go to, mine are more of the insider type. Well my cousin Joe wanted to go, so I went along for the ride. The day of the event I went on line to see what it was all about. It was not a Wine Spectator Event but one held and organized by James Suckling and David Sokolin. Ok. I wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary. My cousin drove in from Long island and met me at my house (apartment in Greenwich Village). We walked over to City Winery. I saw my friend Marco poring a wine and went over to his table. It was the Brunello Normale 2007 from Fabio Tassi. Wow! It was great and a precursor of things to come. The Tassi Brunello 2007 was outstanding. i couldn't beleive my eyes. My tastebuds. This wine was a perfect textbook Brunello, perfectly balance, correct in weight, not too heavy not too light but full of wonderful and perfect Sangiovese Grosss taste. The tasi Brunello Franci Riserva 2006 was equally good. Excuse me great! oh and by the way, this tasting was one special one as the wines being tasted, the Brunello di Montalcino 2007 and Brunello Riservas 2006 where two back to back vintages where of the highest caliber of ratings of mid-90s fro each vintage as a vintage overall. Outstanding, the pair of 2007 Normale and 2006 Riserva Brunellos. It's hard for me to remember back when I tasted so many great wines at one tasting. I was shocked. when after wine, Brunello after marvelous Brunello were oustanding. I couldn't believe it. they were almost all good. "Excuse me, Great!" All except for those offerings of Capanna and Uccelliera fo which neither of these producers thrilled me with their offerings as almost all others did.    As I stated, pretty much all the the Brunello on hand were outstanding, well balanced, tasty and indicative of what great Brunello should taste like.  Here is a list of the standouts: Valdcava Brunello Di Montalcino 2007 Valdcava Brunello Di Montalcino Del Piano Riserva 2006 Carpzao Brunello Di Montalcino 2007 Carparzo Brunello Di Montalcino 2006 Riserva Poderina Brunello Di Montalcino 2007  Poderina Brunello Di Montalcino 2006 Riserva Lisini Brunello Di Montalcino 2007 Livio Sassetti Brunello Di Montalcino "Pertamali" 2007 Tassi Brunello Di Montalcino 2007 Brunello Di Montalcino Castello Banfi 2007 Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino 2007 Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino Vigneto Manachiara 2006       ...



Daniel Bellino Zwicke







Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Hey folks! These are some of my Faves from some of my Best Friends in The ITALIAN WINE WORLD; a great Sauvignon Blanc Venica "Ronco di Mele" from bud Giampaulo Vneica, a great Nero di'Avola Donnafugata "Mille Una Notte" A Thousand and One Nights from friends Jose and Antonio Rallo of Donnafugata, "awesome People." Also from Sicily (My Family's Home Territory, Lecara Freddi) is my good friend Francesca Planeta's offering of Cerasaulo di Vittoria Planeta, love this baby, my Favorite Brunello of all from Fattoria Barbi in Montalcino and let us not forget my good ol friend Roberto Gundler of Terrabianca and his famed Super Tuscan Wine "Campaccio." Daniel Bellino Zwicke  
with Daniel Bellino Zwicke
Me & Cavelier Luigi Cappelini
of Castello Verrazzano
Greve, Italy
My Favorite CHIANTI !
Castello Verrazzano


Yes Italian Wine mavens. It's that time of the year again. Wow, another year gone by. It's the 2012 Tre Bicchieri Tasting New York, the years most prestigious Italian Wine Event of all. It is this friday February 17 at the Metropolitan Pavillion on West 18th Street and if you don't have an invite or in, forget about getting in. Security is tight at this one, sponsored by Gambero Rosso the Wine Spectator/Robert Parker of Italy and Italian Food and Wine all rolled into one. What is
Tre Biccieri? Well first off it translates to Three Glasses., and this is the system for rating the top wines in Italy by the famed Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri Italian Wine Guide compile and published each year by Gamabero Rosso Publications. Italy's top wines are here. Gambero Rosso rates the wines on a 1, 2, and 3 glass system as opposed to others like Robert Parker and WIne Spectator which uses a 100 Point System. So at the Tre Bicchieri Tasting, all of the Tre Bicchieri (3 Glass Wines) Wines will be on hand.
   For an Italian Wine Guy like me, this is my favorite event of the year and although I love and enjoy all the great wines, it's actually more of a social event for me. I get to see my many friends from Italy, winemakers, but mostly the proprietors of the many wine estates on hand. It's just great!
   Needless to say there are going to be many great wines on hand including; Sassicaia 2008, Turiga 2007, Donnafugat "Ben Rye" 2009 from good friend Antonio Rallo, Barolo "Monfortino" Riserva 2004 from Giacomo Conterno (Considered by many Thee Top Dog of All Barolo), Vietti Barolo Villero Riserva 2004, Mastroberadino Taurasi Radici 2007,  Rosso del Conte Tasc d'Almerita 2007 from good friend Conte Giuseppe Tasca, Masi Amrone "Vaio" 2006, Planeta's "Plumbago" (Nero d'Avola), and many more. To many to mention here. Yes a lot of great wines, looking forward to tasting as many as I can, but even more so, seeing the many friends who make these wines, especially, Francesca Planeta, Sebastiano Rosa of Sassicaia fame, Merielisa Allegrini, Antonio Rallo, Giampaulo Venical with his great Sauvignon Blanc "Ronco de Mele," Rafaella Bologna with her renowned Barbera "Bricco dell' Uccellone 2009 and many more.As always, this is going to be a great event, Great Wines and Great Friends from the whole of Thee Italian Peninsular. Can't wait!

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Tuesday, November 22, 2011




Dominic DeMarco

"Yes," Eating Pizza Made by The Maestro DOM DeMARCO
Is a Religious Experience !!!

Much has been said of the now famed Pizzeria (DiFarra Pizza) on Avenue J in Brooklyn, New York the Capital of Thee Best Pizza in the whole United States of America, bar-none, even Manhattan. Brooklyn lays claim to the Top two Pizzerias in the country, the top of the list 1 and 2, number 1, The Best and number 2, the second best. Well no, I don't know if I should put it that way, as it sound s as one is better than the other, which is not ht e case, as they are both equally good, equally Great and equally the Best Pizza and the Best Pizzerias in the United States, though they are are little different than one another. The Pizza at both Totonno's on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York and Di Farra Pizza on Avenue J in Brooklyn are both otherworldly specimens of some the Finest Pizza on other and the Undisputed Best Pizza in America.

Wow, got off on a tangent about both Di Farra and Totonno's when I just intended to talk about Di Farra Pizza, Dom DeMarco the Maestro of Di Farra's and the Religious experience that it is to go there, watch Dominic masterfully make Pizza after glorious Pizza (without the help of anyone else), to watch in awe and anticipation and Salivation til you finally get yours (after about a hour or hour and a half wait), you hold it in your hand like a precious baby, and then to sink your teeth into it, savoring each wondrous bite after the other. "Yes," it is truly a religious experience, that is, if you are a great lover of this wonderful invention, created in Napoli, spread throughout the the Italian Peninsular and then across the Atlantic to America from Italian Immigrants where Gennaro Lombardi opened the First Pizzeria in America on Prince Street in New York City some 100 years ago or so.

Back to Di Farra and Pizzaiolo Extraordinaire, Mr. Dominic DeMarco. It is Dominic that makes Di Farra what it is, it certainly isn't the Pizzeria itself which is ultra plain and even appalling to some. Mr. DeMarco's pizzas are just about as close to absolute perfection in the Pizza Making World, a world in which New York City excels and has only one rival in Naples, Italy and the whole of Italy itself. Mr. De Marco has the magic touch, with perfect dough, the perfect balance of ingredients, tomato and other ingredient ratio to cheese, and this include Mr. Demarcos judicious use of Olive Oil which is right-on and a little magic touch that whoever complains about it, just does not know there Pizza and Italian Food on a whole. We Italians love our olive oil. And those who complain are unaware that it is a condiment that adds the final last touch to many dishes before they are eaten. Dominic knows this and should not be discourage against his generous use of it by those who do not understand the proper essence of the Italian Table. So please, keep your traps shut, if you don't like it don't eat it, this countries finest examples of the Pizza Art.

And on to the religious experience of Di Farra, Dom DeMarco and the mans artistry with Pizza. There is nothing quite like it in the entire Pizza World. There does not exist, to my knowledge any place in the world that has an elderly man making a hundred plus Pizzas a day in a place that has endless lines, day and night. Pizza that are so perfect, words can not describe People line up for greatness and artistry, and for a couple of slices of the most marvelous pizza this side of Naples, and to watch this passionate little old man work his heart out, not getting, not allowing anyone else to make a pie at his beloved Pizzeria. The man is elderly. He's worked his whole life. He makes such a magical thing that people line up each and every day to see him and eat one of his many masterpieces. With business like this, he could hire to other Pizzaiolos to help him, doubling or tripling his business and and financial intake. He could hire two guys and make pizza aloing with them, or sit back and get three guys to do it. At his age, he's entitled to. But know, Dom DeMarco loves what he does, he loves his Pizza, each and every one that passes that counter and into thousands of appreciative hands. The man feels that no one else can make a Pizza the way he does and wants to serve to his customers. No one else who has his skills, his passion and love for the Pizza, thus he does it all himself. And this my friends is the reason that going to Di Farra's to watch Dominic the maestro in action, all by himself while hundreds of people line up every day, waiting an hour and a half to two hours just to get a Pizza (not just any old Pizza mind you). "It's a Religious Experience." Truly! A show and there is nothing like it in the World, Dom DeMarco, a man and his Pizza, America's Best, and something to rival that other World Pizza Capital, Napoli.

by Daniel Bellino Zwicke

DiFara Pizzeria

Avenue "J"  Brooklyn, New York

Back View of "PIZZA GOD"  T-SHIRT






by #DanielBellinoZwicke

aka Bellino


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