Brunello, a peculiar form of wine writing, and Antonioni’s surface of the world

The mere exposure to the visible surface of the world will not arouse ideas unless the spectacle is approached with ideas ready to be stirred up.
—Rudolf Arnheim

For now we see through a glass, darkly…
Corinthians 13.12

Above: Alfonso took this Antonioni-inspired (Blow up?) photo of me while he and I were traveling in Italy last week with a group of wine professionals following the wine trade fairs, visiting wineries and tasting together. In reading the “signs” of the Brunello affair, I must employ my sensibilities as semiotician and see beyond the “surface of the world.”

Last Wednesday, two days after the conclusion of Vinitaly (Italy’s annual wine trade expo), the Italian daily La Nazione reported that 1) Biondi Santi and Col d’Orcia have been cleared of any wrong doing in the Siena prosecutor’s Brunello inquiry; 2) other wineries implicated in the investigation have declassified their wines and have reached agreements with the prosecutor, avoiding further action against them; 3) “preservation of evidence” hearings were to be held (on Friday) for Argiano, Frescobaldi, and Valdicava. (You can read my translation of the article at VinoWire.)

One of things that has kept many — or at least some — of us rapt in the imbroglio of the Brunello controversy has been the Sciascia-esque twists and turns it has taken. Even though Nino Calabrese, the Siena prosecutor, has never spoken directly about those implicated in the investigation (and although he has claimed to be “abstemious” when it comes to the media), he has used ciphered leaks and statements to the press to move his agenda along. He has never directly addressed the question of who was investigated but he did issue a statement in which he claimed that:

    Many of the companies implicated have violated the appellation regulations for Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and Rosso di Montalcino DOC… 6,500,000 liters of Brunello di Montalcino and 700,000 liters of Rosso di Montalcino were impounded. Roughly 1,100,000 liters of Brunello di Montalcino have been declassified to IGT Toscana Rosso. Roughly 450,000 liters of Rosso di Montalcino have been declassified to IGT Toscana Rosso.

The article published last Wednesday does not cite its source but it would appear that the information came from the prosecutor’s office.

There is certainly some significance to the fact that the prosecutor waited until the day after the conclusion of Vinitaly to release this information. It’s not clear to me why he has singled out Argiano, Frescobaldi, and Valdicava — especially when Argiano opted to declassify voluntarily shortly after news of the inquiry broke.

Calabrese claims to be “abstemious” when it comes to the media (what an apt word choice!) but beyond the surface, he has certainly indulged in a peculiar form of wine writing!

3 Responses to Brunello, a peculiar form of wine writing, and Antonioni’s surface of the world

  1. tom hyland says:

    Jeremy:

    Love Alfonso’s photo!

    You are wise to write about this mess. Will we ever see this scandal as it really is? Or will be come to us filtered as through several layers of glass?

  2. vocativo says:

    Vero: proprio à la Antonioni, anche se Jeremy in questa posa sembra più Nicolas Cage in qualche film di De Palma che David Hemmings :)

  3. Ooh–so Blow Up! I love that movie..

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