Par condicio: Pian delle Vigne 2003 sample sampled

Par condicio is a Latin expression used historically by the Italian legislature and subsequently by the Italian media to denote, among other things, “equal [air] time” for Italian political candidates (it’s modeled after the expression par condicio creditorum or as per agreement with creditors).* It’s an Italian political campaign convention much criticized by the hegemonic Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party and its leader Silvio Berlusconi, who happens to own and control a majority stake in Italian national television — private and public. (Silvio made The New York Times today for his prudish — yes, prudish! — attitudes. See below.)

When my buddy Lance invited me to attend an Antinori tasting over at Wine House in West LA, I felt a sense of moral obligation to swirl, sniff, savor, and spit. In particular, I was curious to taste the 2003 Pian delle Vigne, Antinori’s controversial, once-impounded, and now-cleared 2003 Brunello. (See this recent interview with Antinori winemaker Renzo Cotarella here.)

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am not a fan of modern-style Brunello and frankly, Pian delle Vigne is not a wine that I drink. But in the spirit of “fair and balanced” coverage, I am compelled to report that, judging from the color of the wine and its flavors and aromas, it was 100% Sangiovese (see the bright, clear color of the wine in the photo above). And although it was wooded, it did taste like Brunello: frankly, I found it to be more traditional-leaning than other bottlings of Pian delle Vigne. In all fairness, it’s a very well made wine.

One question remains, however: why were we tasting hand-labeled “samples” of the 2003 Brunello when the wine was presented in the U.S. as early as January 2008 with printed Antinori labels? There are certainly bottles of 2003 Pian delle Vigne in this country — many undoubtedly shipped before the April controversy, when Siena authorities impounded the wine. The wine has since been “cleared” by the Siena magistrate (as has Banfi’s, as of yesterday). So, why the need for “samples”? Food for thought…

Americans continue to adore Antinori’s wines and gauging from the stampede for the Guado al Tasso, Solaia, and Tignanello last night, the Marquis has not suffered from the recent Brunello controversy. It’s remarkable how much wine he makes and in how many regions. I had no idea, for example, that he makes a nice Franciacorta (Montenisa) and I was really impressed by his La Brancesca 2006 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Santa Pia, traditional in style, for under $40 retail.

In other news…

Separatist Italian agriculture minister Luca Zaia approves bag-in-box packaging for DOC wines. See this report.

In other other news…

Tiepolo’s titties tethered by Italian chieftain in “The Truth Unveiled by Time” tela!!!

In an unusual act of prudish countenance, the Berlusconi government ordered the nipples in Tiepolo’s “The Truth Unveiled by Time” covered. The painting appears in the backdrop of the Italian prime minister’s press conferences. See this report in The New York Times.

* “One of the cardinal principles governing the liquidation of insolvent estates is the equal treatment of creditors—the classical par condicio creditorum. Debtors on the eve of bankruptcy, either of their own volition or under pressure, may accord preferential treatment—by way of payment or security—to certain creditors.”

Source: “bankruptcy.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

9 thoughts on “Par condicio: Pian delle Vigne 2003 sample sampled

  1. Warning: potentially dumb wine science question… I’ve never seen a wine’s colour assessed with that little in the glass. Until you fill up, it’s all tint and edges, isn’t it?

  2. berlusconi is offended by nipples?! i am offended by his facelift and fake tan. in fact, with his reflessi aranciati, mi sembra un po’ come un brunello anziano…

  3. Marcus, thanks for the comment.

    The glass in the image had a “tasting pour” in it, probably .5 to 1 ounce.

    You should be able to evaluate the color of wine with even a very small pour. In the case of Merlot or Cabernet, for example, the wine would be dark and opaque. With Nebbiolo, it should be clear as well, but more brick red than ruby.

    Every winemaker you talk to in Montalcino will tell you the same thing: look at the color of the Brunello and if it’s bright and clear, you know it’s Sangiovese (if it’s dark and opaque, it’s definitely not).

    Marco R., right on: I held the glass over a white piece of paper (since my hand model wasn’t available) and snapped that pic.

    Tracie B., I think you’ve invented a new form of eno-political commentary. When I worked at the U.N., I was in the Cavaliere’s presence but once. He’s well powdered but shorter in person than on television.

  4. i think he’s actually shorter on television, one to two feet depending on how big your screen is.

    2B, you can always count on me for insightful, intelligent, and thoughtful commentary!

  5. Great post Jeremy. I liked the way you wrapped so many things together into the idea of Par Condicio. As for the Bag in the Box report, I am at a loss to understand if the big deal is that some can have the DOC rating or if there is something that mi sfugge…

    It seems to me that Tavernelle has been in Italian homes as long as I can remember. What’s your view?

  6. Tracie B., keep it coming! ;-) Berlusconi travels with 3 interpreters, all women, btw… I only go to be in the room with him and didn’t get to interpret for him… My favorite thing about the Cavaliere is his love of cactus: evidently he has a cactus garden at his estate in Sardinia. It’s like the Jacques Dutronc song, “the whole world is a cactus, and there is nowhere for me to sit…”

    Susannah, I was blown away at the response to the bag-in-box announcement. I am a big fan of bag in box (it’s green, it conserves the wine longer after opening, it avoids cork taint, etc.). But the version of the Lede that ran last week led to a lot of misguided coverage. The fact is that not many winemakers are going to put their DOCs into bag-in-box. I’m going to have something to say about that on Monday.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Well, that’s really something for Berlusconi being offended by the truth unveiled. I guess the lady is on the payroll of some commies’, wouldn’t he say so?

    Or you may think it was a counter-offensive on all the rumours on the true reason why we got a former TV starlet as Minister of Equal Opportunities in Italy. As long as she stops being photographed as the truth unveiled.

    And I guess I better do not follow Tracie in her eno-political commentary on this one. ‘Cause as a sommelier you are not only supposed to appreciate the colors of wine, you are supposed to keep strictly separated the occasions in which you swallow the wine from those you have to spit it out (like in our latest tasting panel: they reminded us at the beginning of the session that the day before they send a couple of panelists home for swallowing).

    So now 3/4 of the country is wondering what sort of sommelier the Minister in question would make.

  8. Pingback: Par condicio: enthusiastic tasting notes on 2004 Brunello by Banfi « Do Bianchi

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