|Armando de Rham with Luciano de Giacomi at Bricco del Drago|
And there is the ongoing conversation among wine lovers and influencers, over the direction wine is taking, as it is guided by the hand of men and women who are the servants of the vine.
I kiddingly use the term “slaves to the wine god,” but there is a kernel inside that phrase. If one understands that connection, it makes all the difference in the world. It is the difference between taking off early on a Friday and going to lunch, popping some bottles and posting one’s trophies on Instagram or Facebook. And taking some bottle (or bottles) to see a client in the hopes of finding more homes for those wines which those men and women back in the vineyards slaved so hard over to make.
|Salvo Foti in his Aeris vineyrd in Milo, on Etna|
It’s hard for someone who hasn’t been in the game for very long to understand this: Italian wines, at one point, were lacking, some would say even awful. White wines, especially. This observer noticed, around the early 1980’s, that a transformation was taking place inside wineries. Italy was coming out of its slumber. The economy was creating more opportunities, and especially in a global sense, the markets were opening up to wine from Italy that had once been dominated by France. It was, it is an extremely exciting time. Again, though, there was some direction, some thought, some philosophy that had to be put into action, in order for that transformation to proceed.
So, now we are at the mountain top. Where do we go now? Who are the 21st century Antinori’s, Gaja’s, Quintarelli’s, Mastroberardino’s? Who is leading Italian wine in to the future, not only with their wine but with their ideas?
|Alessandro de Renzis Sonnino in his venerable vinsantaio|
Consider this: the experience a young winemaker has, over a winter break, whether trekking across Myanmar or swimming in Miami, can affect one’s perception of their place in the world. And we are in a unique time now, as subliminal factors enter into the experience of young Italians in the wine trade, who go back to Barolo or Montalcino with these experiences and alters their philosophy about wine. These modern day Marco Polos, en masse, are like tiny drops of water - drip, drip, drip - slowly impressing a concavity into the stone. Do you not find this to be an exciting time for Italian wine? For sure, there are those souls who care not to venture any further from their farm in Pontignano than maybe Florence, or in Barbaresco to perhaps Torino. And we need those people too. They are the grounding rod for the process. They prevent Chianti from turning into Shiraz or Barbaresco into Merlot.
|Arianna Occhipinti - in Fossa di Lupo|
We’ve come a long way in the last 7,000 or 8,000 years. And the last 70 have been probably the most impactful of them all. But those pioneers are older now. And while their light hasn’t dimmed, their time on the stage is passing. Their sons and daughters, and grandchildren, are swarming the center line. Which of them are gazing into the deep pool of time with the thirst for leading us where no one has gone before?
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