Angelo Gaja and the “age of responsibility”

The bishop of Barbaresco, Angelo Gaja (left), certainly wasn’t looking at the world through rose-colored glasses when he sat down with Jedi blogger Antonio Tombolini and 19 other food and wine bloggers in a conference room at the Gaja estate last Sunday (photomontage by Alfonso Cevola). Gaja had agreed to let the bloggers ask him anything they wanted regarding the caso Brunello or Brunello affair, as it has come to be known, and Antonio blogged live from their session — even taking questions from the virtual crowd. Franco and I have translated and posted some highlights at VinoWire. If you have been following the Brunello controversy, you might be surprised by what Gaja had to say and his candor.

Throughout the Brunello controversy, bloggers, journalists, and wine pundits have lamented the lack of transparency — on behalf of the Brunello Consortium, the winemakers themselves, and the Siena prosecutor’s office.

When young winemaker Alessandro Bindocci began posting at Montalcino Report, it was a breath of fresh air from Sant’Angelo in Colle at 400 meters a.s.l.: finally… finally, the world had an honest, reliable, just-the-facts source for information about what was happening “on the ground,” as we used to say during my U.N. interpreting days. Alessandro is a twenty-something and technically hip winemaker (check out his FB and if you don’t know what that means, then don’t bother). Gaja — a relative newcomer to Montalcino but an old dog when it comes to new tricks — doesn’t have a blog and so he had the bloggers come to him.

Whether or not I like Gaja’s style of Brunello (I don’t), whether or not I agree with his push to change Brunello appellation regulations and allow for blending of international grapes (I don’t), I have great admiration for him and what he did on Sunday. And I believe that — like Alessandro — he has done a great service for Montalcino and the people who live and work there by having the courage to bring some transparency to his otherwise murky situation.

Has the “age of responsibility” arrived in Montalcino? Not yet. But the “Gaja vs. Bloggers” summit, as it was dubbed in Italian, was a step in the right direction, no doubt.

I wish I had time to translate the entire thread, but I’m besieged by work these days.

In other news…

I’m not the only to make an analogy between the new political era and the world of wine writing and blogging. In fact (and I give credit where credit is due), I am taking my cue from Eric’s recent post, “Can we all get along” (I was in LA, btw, when Rodney King and the riots went down. “God damn ya, who’s got the camera?” Does anyone remember the Ice Cube song?). I was really impressed by the post and the thread of impassioned comments it inspired.

“Let the arguments rage on!” I’ll drink to that… Long live the counterculture! Et vive la différance!*

* After no one commented on my “Brunello socialist” joke, I don’t have high hopes for this this pun. Does anyone get it? Hint: note the unusual spelling.

Angelo Gaja’s rosy glasses and apocalyptic vision and blogs I (can’t) read

Neither Franco nor I can decipher the cryptic post published by the bishop of Barbaresco, Angelo Gaja (photo by Alfonso Cevola), at I numeri del vino (one of the most important resources in the enoblogosphere for hard data on Italian wine). Gaja seems to want his cake and eat it too, riding both sides of the fence in the Brunello controversy, warning producers that “nothing can be the same” while painting a rosy picture of a world of Italian wine free of commercial fraud. Read our faithful translation at VinoWire and let me know what you think.

Blogs I (can’t) read…

I haven’t been doing much blog-surfing lately because I am slammed with work right now and just finished my move to my new apartment in Austin. But there are some new feeds in my Google reader.

In the world of corporate blogging (clogging), I’ve really been enjoying Italian Wine Guy’s newest creation, The Blend. His insights into the current state of our industry should be required reading for any and all wine professionals (old and young).

An old comrade from the early days of the Italian wine and food revolution (think 1998-1999) in New York, Wayne Young, has taken up blogging from the far eastern front of the now Napoleonic empire (it’s funny how the revolution always becomes an empire, isn’t it?). Wayne’s winemaking knowledge is impressive and his “tell it like it is” anecdotes from the world of wine and wine writing are always thought-provoking.

When in the mood for some Lacanian musings (contemplating the signifier over the signified), I often find myself gazing mindlessly at two blogs I can’t read.

FinareVinare in Sweden often links to me and to Eric le Rouge. I have no idea what FinareVinare is saying but I know its author likes some of the same wines I do.

Billigt Vin, also in Sweden, is another one. When I “read” it, I’m like a young Petrarch with his cherished manuscript of Cicero: I can’t understand what the words mean but I know they mean something important (well, I don’t mean to compare myself to Petrarch — he was kind of a big deal, after all).

Lastly, I cannot omit a blog that I can read, Armadillo Bar by Alessandro, a long lost brother in wine and roots music and the greatest Austinophile on the planet. Sometimes, instead of checking the Austin Chronicle for what show Tracie B and I should go to, I just email Alessandro, who always responds with incredible celerity and pinpoint precision. Every time I see an armadillo on the road, I think of Alessandro and his blog.

Even if you can’t read it, Armadillo Bar is always worth the visit for the tracks Alessandro spins.