Sunday, December 08, 2019

“喜劇結束了” - The State of Italy - Wine, Culture, All of It - in 2120

“Italian investment of time and resources in importing wine to China will ultimately turn out to be a big mistake. The Chinese will eventually get their production to a level where they can be seen as prestigious as the first growths of Bordeaux (the French are complicit in helping them get there, and along the way, have sold their souls for a buck). And when the state media of China convinces Chinese (or compels them) to be loyal to their homegrown wine, which is better than anywhere else in the world, "La Commedia è finita" [ 喜劇結束了]. Italian wine will have been pared down to miniscule levels, and will be so rare and exclusive as to be the private domain of billionaires and NPC apparatchik. You and I will be dead then.” – Luisa Parker-Ragg in 2020

Assisi - February 14, 2120 A.D.

Where to start? As everyone knows by now, around 2040, things got tough for Italians in these parts. The Chinese population alone in Tuscany was nearing 500,000, displacing many generations of Tuscans who died in the 1st Pandemic of 2020. Along with that, the birth rate declined so extensively that it was hard to keep some of our industries going. Native manufacturing all but disappeared. And farming wouldn’t have survived if not for AI. Vineyards began to shrivel, with no one to work the land. And then, as if overnight, we found out that China owned 58% of Italian land and industry. We had been invaded, overrun and taken over by our own hubris and inertia. Now we are a colony.

Reduced, at this point to an indigenous population of 8,000,000, Italy has become China’s living museum of art, craft and comestibles. But there have been huge changes made.

First being, they moved the capital to Prato, where I have a small apartment, and turned Rome into an open-air museum. No one is allowed to move to Rome anymore, and as the few remaining Romans die off, eventually the place will be run by blots. Oh, it won’t seem empty, as AI will “populate” the city making it appear that Rome is still vibrant and lived in. Most visitors won’t even notice the difference, save for the slowly evolving facial features of the AIBionics, as they appear more affable to the 300,000,000 Chinese tourists a year. Chinese investment (in 2120) now owns 92% of Italy (as of this reporting, Sardegna refuses to sell any part of their island to outsiders).

It hasn’t been all bad. With population down, the ecological footprint of mankind has lessened the erosion of this colony. And as most visitors sleep above the land in “floating ships,” all of the elements that once plagued cities like Rome, Florence and Venice have been alleviated. In fact, thanks to Chinese engineers, Venice is no longer prone to flooding. The canals are running clear and clean - dolphins have returned to the Venetian lagoon (even if they are only AI blotphins). This is mainly due to having an autocratic organization now running Italy. No longer are there endless debates as to which way the tower of Pisa should lean. It is now steadfast and stable. No longer does trash run in the streets of Naples like water; all has been solved. Of course, Naples is now all but completely empty, with the 3rd Pandemic (of 2080). But now, sterilized and rid of vermin, it shines like an Italian El Dorado, with the constant hubbub of music and chatter piped in through invisible speakers all across the town. People can eat “street food,” from the traditional Italian to the more familiar dumplings. But noodles reign now, not pizza.

And Milan and Torino have become high cathedrals of rice. Here it was found, that the rice growing fields surrounding these cities were infested with bacteria and pollution, runoff from urban areas. Now, all is aseptic and safe. The rice trade is booming. 98% is sent to China.

And wine, you ask? There have been changes, of course. With Clime-Shift our new landlords decided to alter a few things about grape growing and winemaking, starting with the Declaration of L’Aquila in 2050. With very few exceptions, all wine production south of L’Aquila was converted to a type of Baijiu, extracted from grapes. This was determined by a ten-year plan imposed by the Central Autocratic Agricultural Government in Beijing, deemed to be the best use of the land for commercial purposes. And so, China made China the #1 world customer and importer of Italian alcoholic beverages derived from grapes.

And just in time, as the United States market for Italian wine had crippled, and finally fell, under the government of Arabella Rose Kushner, in which it had been speculated that President Kushner had a long-standing relationship with the Chinese government and acceded to pressures from Beijing in order to not disrupt the family fashion business in America, which is dependent on Chinese production. So, for the blouses and tennis shoes for a generation, Italian wine south from Rome was wiped away from the history books, and business with America vanished.

In the north of Italy, it was not so drastic. But there were fundamental changes, of course.

It was determined that the most famous names in Italian wine were Barolo, Brunello, Chianti and Prosecco. Barbaresco was made a subregion of Barolo. Vino Nobile became Brunello. And outliers like Morellino, Montecucco and all the rest was folded into the Greater Chianti Classico Comradeship (or GCCC). The DOC/DOCG/DOP appellation structure was done away with in favor of one more akin to the AOC of France, which had been adapted in China in 2030. Piedmont adopted the Grand Cru standard, while Tuscany emulated the Classified Growth model. As well, farming was standardized, and seeing as Italy was also considered a world heritage site, organic was adopted and mandated with one alteration. And that was if science produced a better product it would be brought under the umbrella, gradually, of the organic and natural processes. This was in cooperation of the World Bank Natural Wine Charter of 2035, following the 2nd Pandemic (of 2032). It was found that Italy had a Spontaneous Natural Fermentation Ambiance (SNFA) unique to all the world, and in fact genetic research and fractal geometry paved the way to replicate the Italian exemplar in other less fortunate places on the globe.

Prosecco was a different story. Since the 2nd Pandemic of 2032, sparkling wine production in France ceased, leaving the fields of Champagne fallow and useless. It was of concern that demand for sparkling wine would alter Prosecco (even worse than the 1st Alteration of 2015) and scientists, agronomists, sociologists and economists met on the island of Mazzorbo in the Venetian Lagoon to determine how to move forward. It was called the 2nd Consilium Sapientium and the attendees mapped out a course to avoid the pitfalls that both Champagne and Prosecco failed to avoid in the 21st century, The result has been successful, so far, and now Prosecco is regarded as the greatest of all sparkling wines in the world (*see the July 1, 2108 State Council of the People's Republic of China Report and Dictum on Prosecco).

In the north, however there were other changes, structurally and culturally. In 2025 Xi Mingze, daughter of Chinese Paramount Leader Xi Jinping, and Kim Yo-jong, the self-exiled sister of Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un, made their home in Gressoney-Saint-Jean in the Aosta Valley and renovated and designated the Castel Savoia as a Special Provincial Administrative Regional Center. It was here the couple raised their son Kim Xi Yi Song-gye. It was determined during their tenure at Castel Savoia that the area would return to be a textile center with Biella as the commercial heart of the industry. And Kim Xi Yi Song-gye eventually ran the northern part of Italy and has since passed it on to his successors. The area is now known affectionately by current residents as Little Dandong (小丹东).

With Xi Mingze being a teetotaler, wine took a back seat. The only exception was to leave a few vineyards to remain in Aosta and Alto Piedmont (namely, Boca), with the rest converted to wildlife preserves, along with newer developments of fortresses owned by the Chinese Billionaire caste. With population having dwindled, this made for a good solution, seeing as many viticoltori of the region had long since emigrated to Canada in response to economic and political pressures and Clime-Shift. This initiated a period in Canada known as the First Nation-Italo Federation Viticole (FNIFV), which further developed wine growing in Ontario and BC.

As well, with the purging of the American Investor class from Piedmont, specifically the Langhe area, the confiscated lands were folded back into a state owned enterprise, 中国葡萄酒协会 ( or CWO, China wine organization), a byproduct of the Sino-American Wealth Redistribution Plan of 2040 (the result of the overwhelming American fiscal debt to the Chinese). Many of the expunged American investors were offered arid land in Eastern Washington and Oregon (now also majority owned by Chinese investment) at reasonable rates of expenditure, should they wish to continue to grow grapes. Only 5% took the deal, the rest walked away or had already shifted their investments to the FNIFV.

All told, in 2020 Italy produced 60 million hectoliters of wine. In 2120 Italy will have produced 300 million hectoliters of alcohol, of which 7.5 million hectoliters are allocated for Barolo, Brunello, Chianti GCCC and Prosecco. The average price of a bottle of Barolo or Brunello is now 4,000 Yuan (or 500 Euros). The average price of a bottle of Chianti GCCC is 1,000 Yuan (or 120 Euros) and the average price of a bottle of Prosecco is 775 Yuan (or 100 Euros). The indigenous population of Italy (now 8 Million) is holding steady, and the population of Sino-Koreans are 3.5 million. The population of AIBionic entities hover around 20 million, but that includes everything from the humanoid to the lower animate service group and down to the nanoblots used in climate regulation, farming, medicine, artisanal and factory work and food production.

Luisa Parker-Ragg, while she might have seemed alarmist and fatalistic, had a fantastic vision 100 years ago. Now she seems more portentous than pessimist. The Middle Kingdom has overcome and conquered Impero Italiano, and now indeed "La Commedia è finita."

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