Vino Mafioso

By Ray Isle Posted June 07, 2007

Came across an interesting story in the Financial Times (UK) about Campo Libero—"Free Field"—a white wine being made in Italy's Lazio region on land confiscated from a leading member of the Camorra, the Neapolitan version of the Mafia. A nice twist is that the group making the wine, Il Gabbiano, is a charity operation that employs recovering drug addicts and people from troubled backgrounds. A not-so-nice twist is that last September, just before harvest, vandals—or someone—destroyed half the vines on the property. Hm. Wonder who might have done that. You can read the whole story here.

Interestingly enough, this isn't the only Italian wine project dedicated to rehabilitating people with drug problems. San Patrignano, a wine-producing village above Rimini, is populated by 1,800 recovering drug addicts—who, with the help of superstar consultant Riccardo Cotarella, have been producing wines good enough to garner acclaim from most of the usual wine media suspects. I haven't had the past couple of vintages, but in the past the 100% Sangiovese bottling called Avi has been impressive, as has the Sangiovese/Cab Sauv/Merlot blend called Noi.

And the chances of a U.S. charity ever employing ex-drug-addicts to make wine? Yep, that'd be about zero...

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