Maginot lines in Montalcino

Above: Tracie P and I took this photo, facing southeast toward Mt. Amiata, in February on Strada Statale 64 (State Hwy 64) heading north from the village of Paganico toward Sant’Angelo in Colle on the south side of the Montalcino appellation. It’s just a matter of time before Asti-born Ezio Rivella will be making “Brunello” just northeast of there, in a partnership launched with Veneto behemoth Masi in 2007.

And so, just as the Germans flanked the Maginot Line, invaded Belgium and then France, Ezio Rivella — the self-proclaimed “prince of wine” — has been elected as the new president of the Brunello consortium. He has vowed not to change appellation regulations so that they would allow for international grapes, as he previously advocated. But the thought of an Piedmont-born enotechnician at the helm of an appellation situated in the heart of a UNESCO-protected territory sends shivers down the spines of many — myself included. It’s a dark, dark day in Montalcino.

Above: “Hunting forbidden.” Facing southeast, gazing out on Masi’s Bello Ovile vineyards. Taken in February 2010. Today the sun shines in the early summer heat but it’s a dark, dark day in Montalcino.

Chatting with a friend, a wine professional I admire very much, late last night, he pointed out that this battle was lost a long time ago: anyone familiar with European history and iconography is acquainted with the metaphor allegory of the Maginot Lines.

If you’re not tired of my posts on Montalcino and what has transpired there, please revisit this post on the Brunello debates where Rivella and the sorely missed Teobaldo “Baldo” Cappellano sparred over the future of Montalcino and the Brunello appellation.

I promise to write something fun and entertaining (to cheer myself up) tomorrow but today — the day after the commemoration of the founding of the Italian republic, freed from fascist tyranny — I plan to mourn. Sorry to be a bummer…