I was thrilled to read this translation of the entry for Brunello di Montalcino in a 1937 (fascist era) catalog for an exhibition of Italian wines in Siena by my friends at Tenuta Il Poggione.
The document offers us a window onto how Brunello was perceived in another era. In 1937, fascism was at its zenith and Mussolini had yet to adopt Hitler’s race laws (1938). It was a time filled with national pride for many Italians (members of the fascist party) and the exhibition of “typical Italian wines” in Siena that year was indicative of the spirit of italianità that gripped the Italian collective psyche.
Alessandro Bindocci, who posted the document and translation on his blog, neglected to translate the quote from Mussolini at the bottom of the page (btw, I asked Ale to send me hi-res versions of the document; click the images here to view), il vino rappresenta il dio domestico sul riposo settimanale: wine represents the domestic god of weekly rest.
The quote is significant for many reasons. But most importantly in my mind, it offers us a trace of how fine wine was considered a medicine with health-enhancing properties in the era before the Second World War.
Brunello di Montalcino, write the editors of the catalog, has an alcohol content of “12.5-13%” (!!!) and is recommended for “those who work with their brains, the elderly, and those recovering from illness. It will give the drinker a sensation of new life.” They even suggest that Brunello di Montalcino has a “tonic” (i.e., medicinal) flavor.
It’s a fascinating however short text and I highly recommend it to you.
I hope to consult the catalog when I visit Montalcino later this year.
And don’t forget the mention of the “uva squisitissima: l’erbaluce” in the entry on Caluso passito below!
Odd, I was talking with my friend whom you know, Stefano Salvini, at Vinitaly. He is now the GM @ Salaparuta, who own Rallo. Stefano told me they still have a barrel (botti?) of Marsala vergine that had been set aside for Il Duce. An Ozymandias moment, fortunatley the Marsala survived fascism.