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BRUNELLO GOES POP: WHEN RAPPERS LOVE ITALIAN WINE

It's true, Obama drinks Brunello (or at least likes to hand it out to the Republicans). But if you thought Brunello di Montalcino is an emblem for the posh, an upper-class beverage or just another status symbol for the rich and beautiful - you are wrong. Or at least partly wrong. Brunello is all of the above (just see the prices of the latest Italian wine auction in Hong Kong), but Tuscany's prime wine is also becoming more popular with quite a different crowd. 


Praising Brunello di Montalcino 
Italian rapper Marracash feat. Co'sang


Forward to minute 1.30 of the video and you'll hear: "Fossi Cristo, spacciasserò il mio sangue per vino, vorrei che fosse almeno Brunello di Montalcino". The wine rhyme sounds something like: "If I was Jesus, and they'd sold my blood for wine, it at least would have to be Brunello di Montalcino". Sorry for the bad translation, but it's not like the lyrics sound that much better in Italian. Marracash must have first emptied the bottle and then written the words. This said, the song really grows on me. And to think that as a 40-year-old Swiss expat living in an olive grove in the Tuscan countryside, I'm as fare as you could get from gangsta rap. Grazie, Brunello. At last socio-cultural bridges are being crossed thanks to you. 

Rapping through my kitchen with Marracash, I nevertheless wrote off the song as the exception to the rule (let's face it, rappers like guns and bubbles, not wine), until I've heard about Jay-Z's visit to Italy last week. With BeyoncĂ©'s super rich and talented husband popping over for a quick wine tasting, I wonder whether the country's Brunello and Barolo wines are becoming the new Champagne of the music world. 

After a chance meeting with an Italian winemaker in NY, gourmet lover Jay-Z decided on a whim to take a group of friends in his private jet to Italy for a wine tasting at the Vietti and Gaja vineyards. Landing in Milan, the American rapper and producer had a quick shower at the Four Seasons (no bathrooms aboard private airplanes?), before heading off to the Langhe in Piedmont for some hardcore Barolo tasting and down-to-earth truffle hunting. 

The restaurant bill for two meals alone figured around 30'000€. Add airplane fuel and the freshen-up at the Four Seasons and you wonder whether BeyoncĂ© will have to start touring again soon.

Whatever their expenses, having Jay-Z and Obama drinking Italian wines is definitely good news for local producers. But the effect it may have on pricing of Italy's most sought-after wines may not be to the best for the rest of us. I guess this is why I live in Tuscany. Not much of a singer myself (let alone a big earner), I was quick to realize that taking up a winter job at Montalcino's Biondi Santi winery was my only way left to ever taste any of Italy's first-class vintages. 


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