Awsome Winemaker or War Criminal, You Decide! - Printable Version

+- WineBoard (
+-- Forum: TASTING NOTES & WINE SPECIFIC FORUMS (/forum-200.html)
+--- Forum: Italian Wines/Varieties (/forum-24.html)
+--- Thread: Awsome Winemaker or War Criminal, You Decide! (/thread-8066.html)

Pages: 1 2 3

- Botafogo - 09-29-2000 11:39 PM

Perhaps no one saw this call to arms as they were already bored with the "International Style" wine that was named in the header?

>>Some background: "Vitiano" is grown and vinified by one of Italy's most revered
winemakers, Riccardo Cotarella. In Italy, Cotarella's talents and instincts for great
vineyards and grapes are looked upon with awe.<<

This view is mostly held by the internationalists who won't be happy until all wines taste the same (like some sort of over oaked, too alcoholic Aussie Merlot/Shiraz
blend). There ARE a significant number who join us in the backlash movement and believe that Mr. C is a War Criminal guilty of cultural imperialism, viticultural genocide and general evil.

We STRONGLY encourage the Italian government to come to its senses and deport him to Australia or at least Spain so he can fulfill his apparent destiny of budding over all interesting varieties to Merlot and destroying thousands of years of stylistic tradition with a single spin of his rotary fermenters.

Almost without exception, we inform wineries who have contracted with Mr. C that we will no longer be able to offer their wines amongst our thousands of Italian lables.

Yes, Vitiano is a nice, cheap glass of wine. BUT, every bottle made is in place of something that truly speaks of time and place and food and culture instead of focus groups and international distribution.

Ciao, tutti, Roberto (WINE EXPO)

Some context to the above indictment:

Deep Philosophical musings on The Funk vs. Technical “perfection”.....

We would like to thank our friend Mario di Dievole (heir, caretaker and ambassador extraordinaire of a nearly thousand year old Chianti estate of the same name) for a wonderful feature in his cantina’s completely over the top large format magazine “Zolle e Nuvolle” (“clods and clouds”, a reference to Heaven and Earth): he asked several very famous Italian wine writers the bottom line question, “What makes a great wine?”. Luca Maroni (an impossibly obtuse technocrat whom you would rather listen to the grass grow than have a conversation with) drones on and on about “the result of technical perfection, due solely to the oenologically perfect transformation of a viticulturally perfect fruit, is the universal pleasantness of flavor....Let them look for pleasantness, nothing else. It’s quality must therefore be
such as to please everybody.” Uhhhhh....’t you see that that road leads straight to Raspberry Merlot, Twinkies and “Kenny G. plays John Tesch...Live in Vegas”???

An opposing viewpoint comes from Luigi Veronelli who submits what he says is an “extract” from a proposed book on the very subject that has been rejected by publishers with no vision or courage: “to be great a wine must recount ad infinitum ‘the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth. the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth, the earth...’” This actually repeats for an entire page but you get his point: While there is a great deal of pleasure to be obtained from things like dark chocolate, truffles, wasabi, smoked blood sausage, really strong espresso and bleu cheeses (not to mention Henry Miller novels, Kurosawa films and Charles Mingus or Thelonius Monk tunes), much of the point of these is the juxtaposition and contrast of familiar, “pleasant” sensations with bitter, smoky, earthy, musky, discordant and even shocking elements. In short, real life encapsulated as is: cinema (or vinema or musica) verité that communicates a sense of time, place and culture on a visceral, even
animal level. We have found that the most popular wines in our store are the ones
that 80% of you LOVE and the other 20% HATE with no middle ground, an indication that they have real personality and a distinct point of view instead of pandering to a “universal taste”.

Discuss amongst yourselves, Roberto (Jackie, are you happy now?)

- winoweenie - 09-30-2000 09:20 AM

Botafugo ole` cockster, Will you quit hemming and hawing and spit it out! Do or Don`t you like this feller? winoweenie

- Botafogo - 09-30-2000 12:35 PM

Actually, Verne, he is a REALLY nice guy (I'M sure Brittany Spears' manager is too but that doesn't make her Aretha Franklin or even Madonna for God's sake). Here in America we lost exactlty this war re Beer in the the forties and fifties: giant consolidated breweries redefined the concept of beer (the first ingredient in Budwieser is RICE!!!) and ACTIVELY destoyed all interesting competition. It took us almost forty years to get back to where maybe one beer in 100 consumed in this country is actually real beer as defined in any other country. We can NOT let this happen with wine as it takes way too much time and money to go back.....


[This message has been edited by Botafogo (edited 09-30-2000).]

- Jackie - 09-30-2000 04:42 PM


Very happy!


- winoweenie - 09-30-2000 07:16 PM

B-Baby, Well- Said, Well outlined, well-phrased, and as usual well-defined. Knew if I typed two ledgible words I`d receive a reply that would illuminate. winoweenie

- Bucko - 09-30-2000 07:47 PM

Roberto, e-mail me -- we can work on that stutter.....


- Botafogo - 09-30-2000 09:22 PM

Bucko, that's not me stuttering, it's Vern. Too hot out in the desert I guess. PS, I came back here after I was invited by Jackie and tried to stir the merde a little yet it seems there are just us three here. How many folks actually actively post here these days? If I can't get a rise out of ten people with a rant like that then I don't know what is going on. I thought Randy would come out with guns blazing and we could have some real fun....


- mrdutton - 10-01-2000 07:09 AM

Randy seems to be missing in action...... ???

Have not see a post from him in quite a while.

And where is Innkeeper?

- winoweenie - 10-01-2000 07:28 AM

Didn`t Randy say he was opening some new locations and would be OOA for a bit. Buckster, how about Foodie, Hotwine, Dreskie,wine collector,Rad, plus the hundreds of new members who`ve signes on lately? Guys, this is a forum. No comment is too inane to not be welcome. If you`re afraid of making an ass of yourself, don`t worry. Just look at some of my posts.winoweenie

- Drew - 10-01-2000 10:14 AM

Ok, goes. I'm pretty much a novice where Italian wines go, (still working my way thru the French and Oz wines).
I have had a bunch of Vitiano over the last several years and have enjoyed the wine very much. I can usually find it in my neck of the woods for around $10 and it's a good house wine thats a little more food friendly than most. I think it goes as well with beef as with pasta w/red sauce. No doubt it was targeted for a certain group of wine consumers. I think Botafogo is correct, if I understand him right, that the wine experience is much more full and satisfying if growing regions maintain their exclusivity and focus on growing and maintaining vines native to the area and produce wines of "stylistic tradition". This is what I enjoy about my wine experience, the "terroir" of all wine regions. I don't know though, if Mr. Cotarella deserves the label as war criminal.....seems to me he's a shrewd businessman and talented wine maker whos' passion leans a little more toward Lira than maintaining wines of cultural tradition...I don't know if we can kill him for that.


- hotwine - 10-01-2000 10:58 AM

We're stilll here, and reading this thread with interest.
I had noticed an apparent tendency lately for some Italian producers to "homogenize" their wines, to dumb-down their products to expand their U.S. market; I just hadn't realized the practice was so widespread. That's a shame. Italian wines are among the great treasures of the wine world.

- Botafogo - 10-01-2000 12:15 PM

I got back home VERY late last night from a Brasilian party and was listening to the BBC on NPR while watching the Cameroon-Spain Soccer final and guess what the subject of a two hour long discussion panel on the Beeb was????

"How is Globalization affecting Cuisine and Wine?"!!!!!!!!

They had several prominent chefs and a Master of Wine that I had not heard of as well as general cultural commentators and it was so interesting I stayed up until four in the morning listening to it (and watching the Indominatable Lions of Cameroon win the Gold Medal).

One of the Chefs (Italian but working in London) thought that fusionista chefs blending Asian and Euro influences were out of their minds: "Who can envision something like Lemon Grass from Thailand with Buffalo Mozzarella from Italy?" (I can: Insalata Caprese delle Anna e il rei di Tailandia). He thought that if you were going to do a fusion dish you should put all the original source material on the menu in its traditional form so one could see what was being fused. Interesting idea but impractical from an actual restaurant operation sense, might be a great idea in a cook book though.

The Master of Wines deplored how the Spaniards are evidently in a race to see which winery can jetison a thousand years of tradition and make Parkerized (bastardized), non Spanish wines the fastest.

As much as I rant about globalization in Wine, I often take the opposite tack in music (I fight an enless battle to drag local radio stations out of the sixties re Musica Brasileira) as adding electic guitars and a turntablist to Samba does not eradicate samba and making a hamburger out of Mongolian Hot Pot Lamb and topping it with melted Brie does not cause the original cuisines to dissappear.

BUT, with wine you have to physically change vineyard and cellar practices (and usually the actual vines which take decades to replace if you get it wrong). So every new "innovation" involving budding over Aglianico or Refosco to Merlot and replacing nonno's revered Slovenian Oak casks (NOT Barriques!) with stinky new french Oak involves making financial and infrastructure decisions which strike the death knell for the established style thus robbing us of diversity.

Whoops, customers approacheth, got to go, Roberto

- Botafogo - 10-01-2000 12:49 PM

>>I don't know though, if Mr. Cotarella deserves the label as war criminal.....seems to me he's a shrewd businessman and talented wine maker whos' passion leans a little more toward Lira than maintaining wines of cultural
tradition...I don't know if we can kill him for that.<<

This whole debate brings to mind a phenom we see here in spades in La La Land (and should strike a nerve with those of you in Florida and NYC as well): flocks of women (and not just older ones, here in LA they could be as young as 16) who have ALL had massive plastic surgery and look like Latoya Jackson or worse. You see, if all your friends have fake boobs, collogen injected lips, permanent eye liner tattoos and radical nose jobs then the topic of discussion can be who has the BEST "enhancements" with the base line being total artificiallity. But then some fresh as a daisy, corn fed virgin from Nebraska (who is not even that pretty) comes into the room (or a rice and beans weaned hot tamale from Brasil or the Dominican Republic) and suddenly they all look like bad science experiements and they scurry off to sulk.

This is often the case when we pour a traditional Amarone or a serious Montepulciano d'Abruzzo or even the Meerlust Rubicon from Stellenbosch, SA or Ed Pagor's California Tempranillo at a charity event where every other table has just more brands of Chard-oak-o-nay and Smuckers Merlot Compote. People start saying things like "Oh, this is WINE, not just grape juice" or "I've always wanted to go to Italy" or "DAMN, can I have a case of that? All this other stuff tastes the same."

Cheers, Roberto

[This message has been edited by Botafogo (edited 10-01-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Botafogo (edited 10-01-2000).]

- Thomas - 10-01-2000 07:16 PM

I think I posted somewhere else that back in April, at the VinItaly festival, I had a conversation with one of Bolla's winemakers over a tasting of his new Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and some other red blend. I was unimpressed with the wines, mainly because I could buy the same stuff from California.

I asked the winemaker why he would sacrifice the essence of Valpolicella or Bardolino to the stuff he was producing. He said that it was the stuff his company aimed to sell in America.

Roberto, I am afraid we have already corrupted the world in the sphere of wine production with our sense of sameness and simple tastes.

My aim, should I ever get this retail license in NY City, is to travel the globe seeking the obscure, the unique, the individual representation of a place and its earth (earth, earth, earth, ad infinitum), and the foods and the lives of those who produce it. I hope there is enough of that still around so that I can do this for a few more years before I fade as have the tastebuds of America.


- Botafogo - 10-01-2000 07:26 PM

>> I asked the winemaker why he would sacrifice the essence of Valpolicella or

Foodie, what would one of the technologists at Bolla know about the "essence" of Valpolicella or Bardolino??? A common joke amongst Veronese winemakers (the real ones who own and live on their vineyards) is to point out that "bolla" means "blister" in Italian and then comment that that explains where they get the Soave but then as "how do they make the red wine?".

Ba da Bing, Ba Da Boom, is this thing on???


- Drew - 10-01-2000 08:49 PM

I'm sorry, I just don't get it. I don't believe that 1 man, single handed, will be the downfall of Italian wine simply to satisfy the taste of a country that doesn't even come close to a top global consumer of wine. Is it not true that the great majority of wines produced by a country stay in that country for consumption? Could it be that the western trend of over oaked, varital wines has become vogue in Italy and the masses there demand it?


- mrdutton - 10-01-2000 09:29 PM

<<Could it be that the western trend of over oaked, varital wines has become vogue in Italy and the masses there demand it?>>

Drew what you say has some logic; I just hope it ain't true.

But how could that happen? Does the US export its over-oaked drek to Italy? Or do the Italian wine makers with the bucks change the style of the wine and distribute it all over the place, giving the consumer no choice but to buy their product?

I really, really like serious Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and Chianti (not that "super tuscan stuff") and sure hope they don't disappear!! If I want super tuscan, I'll buy cali wine.

- Thomas - 10-02-2000 08:14 AM

Drew, speak to any Italian (or other winery owner) across the globe and they will tell you that the U.S. is the first prize in their marketing plan. The reason: as small as we are on per-capita wine consumption, we are also a large nation with great potential and lots of money to spend on wine, and just about everything else. Italy is just larger than New Jersey; for that matter, Europe is tiny compared to North America. Think about market saturation, and then think about 300 million non-wine drinkers (sans about 10 million who do drink it) and you can see the potential that Europeans see.

Europeans are told that California wines represent the United States and since they taste the CA stuff, with its oak, extraction and loads of alcohol, they think that is what all America likes and wants, and so they produce it. The so-called super Tuscans are simply big, bombastic wines that bear no relationship to the place from which they come, and they have been the benchmark for sending wine to the U.S.

The big thing in many Italian wineries is called "barrique." Simply, it means oak fermentation and oak aging, and the Italians talk about it as if it were a new find, a find ready to produce a cash flow from abroad that will drown them in Lire, or Euros.

The regular Italians still drink the fruit of the earth--and they like it that way, as do I.

- Botafogo - 10-02-2000 10:16 AM

Mr. C is not alone, he has an army of accolites and he himself is just the most famous and active of a score or more of consultant enologist such as Franco Bernabei, Attilo Pagli and Dottore Tachis who are all on the same warpath re changing styles and using "modern" fermentation technique. Mr. C's big contribution has been to actually get folks to rip up their vineyards and plant Merlot instead.

What we (who enjoy actually Italian wines) have to do is EVERY time some waiter starts raving to you about the latest International style Barrique abomination on his wine list FIRMLY ask for a traditional wine "like your grandfather would like" that will actually go with the food. Tell the restaurant owner that if you wanted Oak Aged Merlot you would go to an American Steakhouse and you came to HIS restaurant to enjoy ITALIAN cuisine which includes the wine. Vote with your wallet. Tell him to tell his suppliers how you , his customer, feel.....

We severely disrupted a presentation of emasculated Baroli last year (Prunotto, now owned and destroyed by Antinori) by asking the crowd of Italian restaurant buyers at the tasting what they though of the proposed rule changes for soccer to make it more TV friendly for the American market. After they vented on that for fifteen minutes we asked what the difference was between that and the domesticated, soft tannin, Pinot Noir wannabee Baroli that we were being asked to buy. Goooooooaaaaaaaaaalllllll!

En guarde, Roberto

[This message has been edited by Botafogo (edited 10-02-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Botafogo (edited 10-02-2000).]

- ddf68 - 10-02-2000 02:58 PM

I would weigh in with an impassioned rejoinder to Botafogo's rant, but it seems to me he's hit the nail right on the head. So, for what it's worth, I say amen to that, brother. (Except the war criminal part. I've drunk enough Vitiano to be complicit in Signor Cottarella's crimes.) ddf