For a number of weeks I have been watching, with bemusement, the travails of the Italian Integration Minister, Congo-born Cecile Kyenge. In that timeframe she has been damned with faint praise by one Italian politician ("she seems like a great housekeeper"), called an orangutan by another, and had a banana thrown in her direction by an audience member at one of her speeches. This was all disturbing to me but, at the same time, it was far away so the impact was somewhat muted.
It came closer to home last week. According to Dobianchi.com, last week, Fulvio Bressan, one of the leading winemakers in the Collio and Isonzo DOCs of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region, posted a tirade against the said Minister on his Facebook page. Dobianchi's post, including a translation of the original Bressan post from Italian, can be accessed here.
Why did this strike closer to home? Because of this picture. You see, I have met with,
spoken to, shared a meal, shared multiple bottles of wine, and written glowingly about Fulvio Bressan, his idiosyncrasies, and his wines. I interacted extensively with him over two days in 2011 oblivious to his mindset which equates people of color with simians (revisit the translated post). As I sit now staring at that picture, I feel conned, taken in by a carnival barker.
Why did it strike closer to home? Because it is busting up a construct. I enjoy being a consumer in the wine industry. I enjoy the fact that people are concerned about, and invested in, wines, and wineries, and winemakers. I enjoy the fact that wine is such a great bridge builder; if you bring an interest, everything else is irrelevant. I did a quick search on the internet to see if there had been a similar, recent non-wine-related wine industry scandal and could find none. The Drinks Business lists the top 10 wine scandals and they are all industry-related. Fulvio is attempting to kill the Tooth Fairy.
It boggles the mind that a winemaker -- who is dependent on distributors and retailers to get his wine to the public and on the public to procure same -- would use a social media platform - which is generally used by his peers to promote their wineries and products -- to viciously attack another human being. One wonders about the circles in which he moves and his overall mindset. To harbor those thoughts are damning in and of itself. But to post them in a public forum is the act of someone with the confidence that comes from repeated success or naiveté not befitting someone of his putative stature.
Fulvio you are your family's worst enemy. For eight generations your forbears have striven to make the name Bressan synonymous with great Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine. With one Facebook post you have undone all that work and made the name synonymous with racism and hatred. I do hope that you can truly find a way to rehabilitate yourself but, as a result of your actions, I have had my last Bressan wine.
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