Did some cabal of marketing VPs declare, in fear of Ernest & Julio divine retribution, that the magnificent black rooster, the Gallo Nero, was doomed? Did focus groups smile at the butterfly, one wonders? How many splashes of deep red wine did it take to create this image? Was Hermann Rorschach a consultant, or does his estate get royalties?
Are we being too judgmental? This is the brainchild of an international marketing organization called Linking Forward, which quotes Carlo Alberto Bertozzi, president of MRA Management Resources of America, an outfit specialized in marketing Italian products in the US. The project is called Tuscany Taste, designed to put all of Tuscany's wines under one umbrella (or insect, as the case may be). Says Bertozzi, "Tuscany Taste is a totally different that what we have seen in the past, and it will be interesting to see this brand in an integrated communication campaign."
Let me be the first to commend the Region of Tuscany for this attempt, which was no doubt a triumph of salesmanship. We can imagine what Bertozzi pitched to the wine-producers association: "Global competition is stronger than ever, and Tuscany must not be left behind. Yes, it is a well-known brand, but the world wine market is fickle. Just look at those Australian kangaroos!"
So Tuscany gets its own critter now, to appear on every label of Tuscan wine from the most purebred Chianti Classico and Brunello, to the most distinguished blends like Ornellaia. Of course, the basest sangiovese will also scramble for the right to wear the mark of quality.
But let's not be too hasty to criticize. Italy is a country that prides itself on differences, a land whose neighbors rarely agree on even the smallest detail of enology or viticultue, let alone the politics and policies of wine marketing. The butterfly (shaped a bit like Tuscany, in fact) is perhaps an apt symbol: evanescent, flighty, capricious, as independent as a herd of cats.