Chilean Wines, Italian Journalists, and Odetta

I have been tasting a number of Chilean wines over the past few days in order to prepare for the Certified Wine Educator test given by the Society of Wine Educators and perhaps an impending trip. One portion of the exam is a blind tasting in which you are given a sheet with a list of wines and then numbered samples and you must cross match the samples with the names on the sheet. I am tasting a variety of wines that I would not necessarily chose to drink. Thus far I have tasted a number of Cabernet Sauvignons and many wines made with the signature grape – Carmenere. I have not yet found one that impresses me. Chile is a fascinating country and I am hoping to have a better result from tastings in situ. Any suggestions would be welcome. I am tasting in the $10-$20 range and just haven’t found any that send chills down my spine or warmth up from my feet. I’m not in love, insomma…I have noticed a minty note to all of the Cabernets and the Carmenere seems very similar to a number of Syrah-based wines that I have tasted.


Other interests and digressions: an article about Italian journalism and politics caught my eye today. The Rome correspondent for the New York Times wrote an article about lawsuits against journalists, Italians and non-Italians alike, whenever they write something politicians or businessmen don’t like. Berlusconi has been doing this since he first entered politics (e’ sceso in campo) in 1994. I was in grad school in Bologna at the time and it was truly a shocking moment. The current lawsuit was brought by Fedele Confalonieri – head of Mediaset, Berlusconi’s media empire – not Berlusconi. The proximate cause for the article was a recent suit against Alexander Stille, a writer and a Professor of Journalism at Columbia University for remarks Stille made in a 2006 book entitled The Sack of Rome. I take issue with one comment the journalist makes about Italian journalists though – that they “often play fast and loose with the facts.” Italian journalism is very different from the Anglo Saxon tradition most certainly but I think this statement is a tad exaggerated and casts unjustified aspersions on an entire category. I love reading the Italian news and think that the differences between our traditions are more nuanced. Italian papers all belong to a particular political movement or tradition and journalists often reflect that or editorialize in their pieces. I also don’t think of the comedian Sabina Guzzanti as their Tina Fey or Beppe Grillo as their Michael Moore but I guess this is inside baseball. In any event, it is worth a read to get a flavor of some local personalities. The NYT correspondent arrived in Rome in September and has been writing about many interesting subjects including a recent piece about a courageous female journalist who writes about organized crime in Naples – the Camorra – for Il Mattino, Naples’ daily paper. The piece was truly informative and entirely underscores my point about Italian journalists not always playing fast and loose but instead doing serious and dangerous investigative reporting while putting themselves in harm’s way. The journalist in question now has a 24 protection (e’ sotto scorta) because she has received death threats for her work…

Second digression – Odetta died today. She was a famous folk and civil rights singer active in the 1950s and 1960s. Her songs are those of the Civil Rights movement and have been a running theme in my life because she has long been a favorite singer of my parents since they were 16 and dating… I was saddened to hear of her death but pleased to think she was here to witness this historical election.


  1. Unfortunately, here in Italy, there is a lack of something very important in any field of life but above all in public expression (politics, journalism, private and public management..): CREDIBILITY. This is the only money a person can spend anywhere and anytime. You can agree or not with a such a person, but you will always respect and consider his opinion. May be the last one, as for journalism, was Montanelli, a free minded person.
    Here anything seems gangrened with a “net” of hidden or even bold clientele relationships, favours and business exchanges which conscrict italian life..
    So it is hard to believe news you are told, because you tend to consider them manipulated or, at least, partial…

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