Politics, Italian Style

Between writing buckets of tasting notes and planning various trips this spring, my mind has been lost in Italy a lot recently. Like when is it not? But rarely do I think about Italian politics anymore (you really need to be living there to follow it, and even then nothing makes sense). Until of course, something like the collapse of the government happens, and then I just sort of sigh and mutter to myself, “Italia”.

And as people have been saying since Prodi won the elections not even two years ago, Silvio Berlusconi is lurking in the wings ready to pounce. In fact, he seems to be claiming that elections could happen as soon as April–just after VinItaly, which, interestingly enough, often happens. So on yet another trip to Italy I will perhaps witness another election (although it will be hard to beat the death of the Pope in 2005 for Italian style drama during VinItaly).

Oh Berlusconi. If he returns, I wonder if someone will take up the legendary Bartolo Mascarello’s crusade?


(Above: At a time when Berlusconi directly or indirectly controlled much of the media in Italy, therefore limiting any real critical look at him or his policies by mainstream sources, Bartolo Mascarello released his Barolo with a graffiti spattered label that read “No Barrique, No Berlusconi.” Can you imagine a venerable Napa Valley cabernet producer doing the same with the words “Impeach Bush” on the label?)


10 thoughts on “Politics, Italian Style

  1. I count myself one of the privileged who met Bartolo. June 03…We called him and he answered the phone. My friend was taken aback! Bartolo he asked? Si the reply. We arranged the visit. Arriving in Barolo we saw Bartolo sitting in his usual place in the bar around the corner from his house. His wife answered the door and she went to tell Bartolo we had arrived. 2 friends wheeled him home and into the office. We sat and spoke for what seemed like an hour. I don’t remember speaking about wine at all. It was politics, music, philosophy. It was deep. Bartolo told us he had not heard Beethoven until a few years prior.

    Before tasting with Maria Teresa we asked Bartolo if we could show him something outside. His wife, Maria Teresa, and now three friends followed us out to look at our rental car. We had 8×10 pictures of Bartolo in the back windows, and on both side panels of the car we had written in soap


    Needless to say Bartolo was pleased as was everyone! we definitely got some funny looks driving around in Alba…..

    After tasting we both purchased one 82 Mag and 1 89 Mag. Of course we asked if we could have the No Barrique No Berlusconi lables put on. While I have no more of the wine to drink I am proud to have the bottle of 82 with label intact and the label of 89.

    It was on honor to meet Bartolo and I wish there were more like him.

  2. I was Owens companion on the trip when we met Bartolo….

    The “NO BERLUSCONI” label story as I remember it…

    Bartolo who had taken up watercolor painting created the first label for a bottle that was placed in his friends wineshop in Alba…”Libreria di Vino” I believe. The proprietor placed the bottle in his window along with the self congratulatory autobiography that Berlusconi’s publishing house mailed free during his campaign.

    The Carabinieri appeared a day later and confiscated the bottle under the regulation prohibiting political comment in a commercial zone. Bartolo supposedly stayed up all night painting and the next day the stores of Alba were filled with his bottles…..

    He was a beautiful man who stood by his beliefs through all the years that Gambero Rosso and Parker hammered the traditionalists….He was truly LA ULTIMA MOHICANA!!!

  3. I have a great nostalgy of Bartolo Mascarello who was a great friend and a Master and the soul of Barolo. All the Barolo fans miss the irony of this old man honest and free. An intellectual not only a great wine producer…

  4. Pingback: He’s Back… « spume

  5. Pingback: Berlusconi and Brunello « Do Bianchi

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