‘Natural’ Wine Roots

Controversial Italian winemaker Fulvio Bressan hasn’t been invited back for February’s Rootstock wine festival, but an American writer famous for championing ‘natural’ wines, Alice Feiring, has.

The Rootstock Sustainable and Artisan Wine and Food Festival will take place in Sydney for its second year, on February 8-9. Last year’s event at Leichhardt’s Italian Forum was a runaway success, necessitating a larger venue: the new venue is Carriageworks.

There will be more exhibitors, over 50, pouring more than 200 wines, plus a sake bar and “an exciting music installation”. There’ll be more of pretty well everything, but one person who hasn’t been invited back is renegade Italian winemaker Fulvio Bressan.

Bressan impressed many last February with his wines, from his family’s vineyard in Friuli’s Isonzo region, established in 1726. I enjoyed his schioppettino and pignolo. But Bressan messed in the nest big-time mid-year when he made racist and sexist remarks (Forbes article) on Facebook about Italy’s Integration Minister, a black African woman named Cecile Kyenge. Fierce reaction from the wine trade, with sommeliers around the world de-listing his wines from their restaurants, did not deter Bressan.

Far from being put in his place by the reaction, he continued to rage against Kyenge, Italy’s immigration laws, gypsies, and many other things. The intimidating, flak-jacketed, cigar-chomping winemaker made good copy when he visited Australia last February – mainly for dissing everyone and everything that differed from his own views. But there will still be plenty of compelling wines and colourful winemakers at Rootstock 2014. To keep up with Rootstock, visit www.rootstocksydney.com

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