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Anti-Berlusconi label becomes collector’s item

A hand-painted Barolo label lampooning Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has become a collector's item.

The label scandal which erupted in Italy during last year’s elections is continuing to draw wine aficionados to Piedmont in search of the rare bottles of ‘No Barrique, No Berlusconi’ Barolo.

Tourists and collectors are flocking into the area hoping to find bottles of the wine that caused at least one shop to be raided by the military for ‘displaying political propoganda in an unauthorised space’.

When Gigi Marchisio, owner of Il Piacere del Gusto in Alba, displayed producer Bartolo Mascarello’s labels last year, he came under attack – literally.

He told decanter.com, ‘It was ridiculous. All of a sudden two trucks and six carabinieri stormed into the shop. They confiscated the offensive bottle, which they later gave back but made me keep hidden inside.

‘Apart from being one of today’s greatest producers of Barolo, Mascarello is one of the few people in Italy not afraid to speak his mind.’ He said he has sold hundreds of these bottles, mostly to Germans and Swiss, and of course Italians.

Mascarello himself is ‘still laughing over the incident,’ he told decanter.com. The producer – a diehard traditionalist who deplores the shift from the traditional wooden botti to smaller, 225l barriques – said, ‘No Barrique, because I am against the use of barriques in Barolo – I am a traditional producer. No Berlusconi because I don’t like his type of politics.’

Each label contains a window, with a flap that opens and closes, showing a smiling Berlusconi. ‘When you’re sick of looking at him, pull down the shade,’ Mascarello said.

picture courtesy Das Weinhaus

Written by Kerin O’Keefe31 July 2002

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