Above: Ornellaia’s Masseto vineyard in Bolgheri, Tuscany is arguably Italy’s most famous expression of Merlot.
I don’t have anything against Merlot. In fact, some of my best friends are Merlot.
As a matter of fact, on my recent trip to Friuli, I had a bona fide Merlot revelation after tasting some truly fantastic bottlings of Merlot from Radikon, Edi Keber, and Ronco del Gnemiz. (BTW, I have a backlog of Friuli posts but am hoping to get to them soon.)
But when I read that the Chianti Classico producers association is going to allow member wineries to present IGT (read “Super Tuscan”) bottlings at their annual vintage debut show in February next year, I thought I was going to heave… The nausea only grew when I learned that it would only cost the producers an extra Euro 50 per bottle of Merlot or Cabernet they present.
At the end of a decade of Italian wine marked by the high-profile Montalcino controversy and the less-talked-about but equally significant Tuscan blending scandal, the Cocacolonization of the Italian wine industry seemed to have shifted gears, leaning more toward Bethlehem than Babylon. Unfortunately, the organizers of this landmark event have once again decided to defile the Temple.
The Chianti Classico producers association represents Italy’s most recognizable wine brand and one of its greatest historic appellations. This aberration and contamination of the sanctity of Chianti Classico’s most important yearly event is — in my mind and on my palate — a hegemonical tragedy of Gramscian proportions.