OBAMA'S BRUNELLO PRESENT: BRIBE OR A GIFT FOR THE ECONOMY?

Barack Obama may by now have second thoughts about the bottle of Brunello di Montalcino, that has been selected by himself - or probably rather by his team - as a birthday present to Speaker of the House John Boehner. Now, there is no doubt about the quality of the wine; Brunello is one of Italy's main players when it comes to the country's top ten wines. If anything Boehner could feel offended that Obama chose a bottle of 'mere' Brunello - instead of the even more prestigious Brunello Riserva. But then the issue isn't quality but pricing. 

ABC News reports that Obama's present could violate the House Ethics Rules, as the gift limit lies at 50$ for a single gift to politicians. Unless somebody of Obama's team needed to clean out his or her wine cellar, it's rather unlikely to find a Poggio Antico Brunello in the US costing a mere 50$. Even more as the Brunello in question is a 2007 vintage, one of the best harvests in Montalcino in the last 20 years or so. A fact that could reconcile the Republican Boehner. Obamba may not have chosen a Brunello Riserva, but at least he took the time to shop around for a world-class vintage. And to think that he just spent months insisting on being much less wealthy than Mitt Romney. 


Poggio Antico's Altero Brunello di Montalcino 2007
Photo tweeted by Boehner's press secretary Brendan Buck 

In the meantime Italians can only be surprised about Obama's gift turning into breaking news. Italy's newspapers may at times report about presents being exchanged between politicians. But hey, we're talking yachts not wine.

Whatever the outcome of America's Brunello gate, Obama showed he cares for the economy. No other small present could have such a big effect on Tuscany's wine industry. Milan's Gloder family (the owners of Poggio Antico) are probably still partying away. Economic crisis or not, they'll be sleeping tightly during the next four years - no need for sales strategies with president Obama buying your wine. 

Cypress and pine trees on the road to Poggio Antico winery, Montalcino
On the way to the Poggio Antico winery
Altero Brunello di Montalcino is what could be called Poggio Antico's 'American Brunello'. Unlike their classic Brunello, Altero is aged in French 500 liter barrels (called tonneaux) and not in the much bigger Slavonian oak containers used traditionally for Brunello aging. This modern or French approach of wine making tends to sell better on the US market. Altero is a great wine and a perfect gift indeed. And well done, Mr. President for not wasting traditional style Brunellos on the Republicans. You're much better off saving them for a cozy evening with Michelle.

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