As Italy is known as the only country in the world with 50 million coaches, we at Wine Pass couldn’t permit ourselves to sit the bench. We took liberties with traditional coaching, however, as soccer is not the most practiced sport in the editing department, and instead had fun exchanging glasses of wine and choosing the right “players” we’d like to bring to our hypothetical National Barolo Cup!
The occasion presented itself in early June in Monforte d’Alba when the town’s Barolo winemakers hosted the annual wine tasting event in support of the local Barolo Boys soccer team.
Between glasses of Barolo, we passed the ball from one producer to the next with a fun game of Fantasy Eno-Football, asking them, “What position would your winery play if we formed a team of the King of Wines?”
Here are their (humorous) responses.
GOAL KEEP: NO ONE
It seems not a single producer wants to cement themselves between the goal posts. Why? It’s a “marginal position,” “out of the action” and just a little too “static.” The Barolo Boys are the kind of team always on the go, dynamic and innovative. The goalkeeper is just too outside of the action.
CENTER FULLBACK: SEGHESIO FRATELLI
The Seghesio brothers choose an important role. In defense of tradition (they have more than 100 years of winemaking history behind them), they push ahead with a forward thrust. “We like the defensive role because we get to defend the goal, while also having the opportunity to reset and direct the game while moving freely in the field.”
STOPPER: ELIO GRASSO
Elio Grasso prefers a position that’s all substance and very little in the way of flashy appearances, his legs always ready to intercept the ball and stop the opposing team that crosses into his zone. “It’s a central but not flashy role. We play defense following tradition and the ability to always be on the ball, determined but humble.”
MIDFIELDER: DIEGNO CONTERNO
Diego Conterno and his son Stefano choose a dynamic role. “Our winery, which is relatively new, should be wingback, ready to run the extra miles – but also be ready to make an about-turn. We need to make people notice us as complete players that also have offensive characteristics, and be ready to kick as many balls in the center to score a goal.” Diego’s son Stefano has very clear ideas: Barolo needs a Valentino Mazzola, a multi-talented player ready for anything.
RIGHT WINGBACK: CONTERNO PAOLO
We confess, we hinted to Conterno Paolo Winery that they might want to be goalkeeper. But they convinced us that their talents fit perfectly with the indefatigable right wingback, their lungs strong enough to support the fatigue, their legs sturdy for the hardship, and their skills sharp for dribbling back and forth with the midfielders. “I want a dynamic role. I’m ready to run and face off the adversary from in front and behind.” Just so; also in making Barolo, and making it well, producers must know how to stay strong and carry on with no rest.
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER: GIANFRANCO ALESSANDRIA
Alessandria is respectful of the characteristics of her winery and their attention to producing a Barolo that’s “extremely correct in its form,” so she chooses defensive midfielder. “Like in the famous Ligabue song, we’re right in the middle of the action, on the heels of our attackers and ready to take the ball back. If we had to make a comparison, we feel like Giuseppe Furino, the legendary defensive midfielder of Juventus, or Mario Bertini, the great midfielder of Inter.”
LEFT WINGER: MANZONE GIOVANNI
“The best attack always comes from the defense,” says Giovanni. “We think a good quality game begins with good positioning from behind.”
RIGHT WINGER: TENUTA ROCCA
Tenuta Rocca chose an extremely active, almost sacrificial role for the Barolo Cup nationals. “We have a lot of power, and we’re able to run back and forth without tiring out. When the occasion presents itself, we’re the first to go in and cross to center, so offense can score.”
CENTERFIELD: ROCCHE DEI MANZONI
Rocche dei Manzoni chose centerfield right away. They have the creativity and innovation that carries them towards the goal. “We chose this position because we’ve always had a creative edge. Since our background is a little different – we have Piacenza roots – we’ve always brought lots of novelties to the Langhe region. We were the first to experiment with sparkling wine, with barrel aging, and – in 1976 – create an assemblaggio wine. We’re distinguished by our imagination and the “unexpected pass,” and we have the courage to play with tradition.”
With a rousing passion, Principiano dedicates their body and soul to the attack. “We like to stay right up in the other team’s defense, and we’re always ready to score a goal.”
SECOND STRIKER: DOMENICO CLERICO
Domenico Clerico is a man with clear, direct ideas in no uncertain terms. “I’m an attacker by nature. In life as in making Barolo you need to have grit and determination!”
As you can see, it’s a fairly classic soccer position pattern (assuming they would find a goalkeeper) of 4-4-2 based on a defense ready for a counter-attack, midfield focused on penetrating the other team, and attackers hungry to score. Maybe Italian World Cup soccer coach Prandelli can pick up a few ideas from these Barolo Boys.