Sunday, May 30, 2010

Of Tea-Baggers and Basilicata

I was re-reading Nicolas Belfrage's Brunello To Zibibbo the other day and ran across this passage, which struck me for reasons which will be obvious. He is talking about his experience in southern Italy, but you can substitute "tea-bagger" and get the same result, I think:

"I am bound to say that, in the course of considerable dealing with southern Italians, I have more than once come upon delay, denial and evasion, tortuous thinking and dealing, even when such behaviour seems patently to run against the subject's own interests. A southerner is likely to have an idea about this or that wedged firmly in his head, and nothing you can say will dislodge it. After a while one is simply obliged to recognise that reason will get you nowhere and that you might as well stop banging your head against the wall.1

Just below the paragraph quoted above, is another one, which I believe provides a well-reasoned critique of the type of government bureaucracy that tea-partiers love to rave against (that is, as long as it isn't a bureaucracy that provides them some tangible benefit, as in the classic "get your government hands off my Medicare.")  Thus:

"The southern Italian bureaucrat's special function in life is to make sure that he justifies his existence and covers himself, especially in relation to his superiors, in such a way that if anything goes wrong he is not to blame. The best way to ensure that nothing goes wrong is to arange for nothing to happen at all. This helps no end to frustrate inward investment and maintain status quo in a situation where rationalists might consider change to be urgently needed.1

1Nicolas Belfrage, Brunello to Zibibbo: The Wines of Tuscany, Central and Southern Italy (London, Mitchell Beazley, 2001).

 I have a slightly different take on the bureaucrat's function as it applies in the U.S., which is that an American bureaucrat justifies his existence by defending the rights of the well-heeled, whether as individuals or as corporations. But that's just me.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cingalino, Borgoforte, and Portosecco

Villa Pillo is a 1,235-acre property in the middle of Chianti owned by Americans John and Kathe Dyson, who also own and operate the Millbrook Winery in New York's Hudson Valley and Williams Seylem in the Russian River Valley. This is the same John Dyson who was Deputy Mayor of New York City and came up with the "I ♥ NY" campaign.

Villa Pillo Cingalino Rosso di Toscana 2008: Made from 65% merlot and 35% cabernet franc, this is a medium-bodied charmer showing light red and black berry aromas and flavors, wrapped in a bit of oak spice, reflecting six months of aging in French oak. Somehow, the cab franc seems to dominate, which is fine by me. The label is kinda goofy:

Villa Pillo Borgoforte IGT Toscana 2007: A nose of soft black cherry, a bit of cedar, and a hint of tar; followed by a palate of red and black currants, a hint of cocoa, and nice ripe tannins. This is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot, which, at the price, qualifies it for mini-Super-Tuscan status. This is of quality equivalent to Villa Antinori, and, in my opinion, a better value.


Portosecco Sangiovese IGT Toscano 2004:  From producer Fabio Bassanelli comes this traditional yet stylish expression of Sangiovese. On the nose, a little cedar and some bright red berries. The palate is bright with acidity, and delivers more red berry flavors plus some tangy cranberry. This is much, much easier to drink than the last vintage, which smelled/tasted primarily of cedar. It is still very far away from being a big-fruited wine, but my guess is that it will play well with a plate of rare steak and a bitter green (which is, as you know, my preferred accompaniment to almost any red Tuscan bottle).

Thanks for your patience and support, everyone.