Who Knew??

I guess my detractors would say “you should have known.” Wait, I have detractors? That can’t be. I’m a nice guy who only wants to help. You can’t know everything about wine, can you?

So with that in mind, and a clear conscience, I think it’s safe to say, I don’t have detractors.

So what is it that I should have known?

Meet the Winemaker.jpg

A week or so ago, I saw that Binny’s in Naperville, IL. (I can use their name, they said it was okay, not sure if that was a good idea or not, but) was having a seminar (I love those) with Guest Lecturer, Francesco Zonin. Now if I have to tell you what the seminar was about or what winery Francesco is with, “you should know.” Since I haven’t been around winemakers/owners any time recently, I signed up to attend.

As is my usual MO, I did some digging before I went to the seminar. This is the part where I found out a lot I didn’t know (hence, the “Who Knew” title of this post). Come to find out that Prosecco (anybody out there still needs assistance knowing Zonin Prosecco?) isn’t the only thing Zonin1821 makes. Why Zonin 1821? 1821 refers to when the winery was established. One hundred years later, Domenico Zonin started the development of this new winery in earnest, acquiring 8 additional properties throughout Italy. Ever expanding, in 1976 acquiring Barboursville Vineyards in (now here’s a real departure) Virginia! Historically a little too much to try and explain here, but suffice to say, James Barbour was a friend of Thomas Jefferson and began the vineyard in, now get this, 1821! The same year Zonin was launched. Not sure how much that had to do with the acquisition, but it’s a great storyline. They also acquired property in Argentina under the Dos Almas name.

francesco zonin.jpg

While I didn’t get as much time with Francesco as I would have liked, his presentation was superb. Beginning with his stature and those Italian features of his, good-looking man in my opinion, he went on to captivate the audience with an engaging and riveting educational seminar describing the appellation system in Italy, the various climates throughout the country and then onto the 6 wines that we were sampling that night. Mind you too that all through the seminar not only was he “all of the above,” but his sense of humor made the event priceless (sorry Mastercard).

All six wines had their own features from the region of Italy where they began as wine. Hard not to talk a little about their hallmark wine, Prosecco. Most Prosecco is produced using “Metodo Martinotti” or Metodo Italiano, as they say in Italy, sometimes referred to as the Charmat method. Simply put, the wine gets its bubbles while the second fermentation is occurring in a large Stainless Steel pressure tank instead of in the bottle as is the case in Champagne.

It was during this tasting that Francesco also mentioned an interesting tradition in Italy using Prosecco as sort of an aperitif, making a drink called “Aperol Spritz.” A concoction of Prosecco, soda water or sweet vermouth and Aperol (made of gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona, among other ingredients). Not to cast dispersions on Italians, but it sounded like this was sort of a “wake me up” sort or cocktail, maybe their version of our Bloody Mary? Since my daughter spent three years in Italy I looked to her for confirmation. She does recall seeing the bottles of Aperol at restaurants and such, but alas, she never partook of the drink. This may need to be on our agenda when she next visits.


What Italian worth his salt (huh), wouldn’t also mention “FOOD?” True to form, Francesco pointed out a very traditional dish called Pasta Pomodoro. A simple dish prepared with pasta, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, basil, and various other fresh ingredients. Intended to be a quick light dish, rather than a dish in a heavy sauce.

Last fun fact. Prosecco accounted for approximately 150 million bottles per year back in 2008, for 2018 it is expected to total 600 million bottles! Somebody knows something that I don’t know. Oh, no, not that again!!

I won’t go into all six wines except to say I think my favorite of the evening was the Castello di Albola Chianti Classico 2015. Good bright fruit of strawberries and cherries finishing with a light spice note on a medium to light frame. Great everyday wine at $15, and perfect for that Pasta Pomodoro. I’ve attached the wine information on those six wines and you can see them by clicking here.

Thank yous go out to Zonin 1821, Francesco Zonin and Binny’s for a wonderful and very informative seminar. Hey, and one less “Who Knew” for me.