Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Burden of Beauty

Italy’s charm is her innate beauty. Art, architecture, music, food and the multi-act opera we’ve come to know as family. Youth, strength, prowess; throw them into the pasta bowl and careful observers look at Italy as a paean to perfection. Beauty is the crown, the reason why the eyes look towards her, why they lust for her art, her food and her wines.

And then there is Brunello. The first wine to be exalted with a DOCG, back in the days before personal computers. Brunello, a simply lovely wine, content to amble about the countryside in search of adventure and love, only wanting to make people happy.

Brunello was so beautiful when young. Stylish, but strong. Complex, but not confusing. Rich, but accessible to the other 99%. And then somewhere Brunello tumbled on a slippery path in the forest. And she has been spending more than a few years trying to get back up.

Underneath the sludge and the grime and the audacity of old men who have effectively had their way with the young and beautiful creature we have come to love as Brunello, she is grappling with the reality that she is no longer so young and beautiful in the eyes of the world.

Traveling around Tuscany this year more times than I should have, neglecting my Sicily and all the South, in order to delve into the meaning and mystery of life in the wine region that went before many others, I am still mystified. All that there is; the fecundity, the wealth, the climate, the soil, the location, and still with all that and beauty, Brunello has been sullied beyond recognition, unable to reveal her real nature to the world.

Yes occasionally, she slips out in an expression of immeasurable gorgeousness. And she is pursued again, if only in the moonless night for a brief moment. Unfortunately there are pursuers who have only one thing in mind, and their agenda isn’t for all time or all wine, but to throw her down to the ground and ravage her again and again. Who will see? The moon and the stars can’t tell anyone, even as they hang in the heavens above.

And that is one of the burdens of beauty that Brunello had been bearing for some time. Pursued for her attributes, she seduces with a mere gait across the cobblestones.

If I could reach out and grab those thugs that have ravaged Brunello into a state of almost irrelevance, I’d back them up against a wall, Sicilian style and demand of them: “What if Brunello were your daughter, or your sister or your mother? How dare you do this to your loved ones?” But they aren’t listening. Their eyes and mouths are filled with lust and their hearts and ears a contaminated with hubris.

All this because of the simple fact that Brunello was simply beautiful. And because of it she has had to carry the burden of her gifts as if it were leprosy.

And Brunello isn’t the only beauty in Italy that has been upended and maligned. Since the beginning of time, merchants and their agents have distorted the wines of Italy for their own edification. In essence the Italian wine evolution has been under the yolk of pitiless men looking to fill their lustful gullets with gold. As if that would even make anyone happy. Just ask the 1% in America if they are truly happy because they hold so much wealth. If you could even get them to return your call.

So light a candle, say a prayer, make a wish, that Brunello and her sisters across Italy weather this current storm of disdain that threatens to take down an industry, a country and a world.

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