Allegrini 2018

Pope Francis in Monferrato, remembering the taste of his land

The Pope visited his family in Portacomaro, teaching us the importance of one’s roots. WineNews told the story (with a “special correspondent”)

What distinguishes a great man like Pope Francis, as well as those who have made and are making the history of the world, is their bond with the earth. The Pontiff visited the land where the his family’s Piedmont origins and roots are. The same roots which his ancestors, the Bergoglio family carried in their pockets, when, in the early twentieth century, they left the Asti hills to seek their fortune in Argentina, and to which Pope Francis has returned to visit. The Pontiff is the first Pope to come from the Americas, son of emigrants, and the first Pope to be inspired by St. Francis of Assisi in choosing his name, as well as in his message of simplicity, humility and love for “Our Mother Earth”. WineNews has told the story of a special day in the Monferrato vineyards, where the Holy Father arrived to visit the town of Portacomaro and enjoy a “family lunch” to celebrate the 90th birthday of his cousin, Carla Rabezzana. He greeted his relatives and the population informally and in all sincerity, in his usual manner, before saying Mass to a crowd of thousands of faithful, in Asti, on Sunday, and receiving the honorary citizenship of one of the most famous "Italian wine capitals" in the world.
Pope Francis’ journey teaches us and reminds us about how important the territory of origin is for each one of us. It is the same that makes a wine special, and a “gift from God” as Pope Francis says.
In the hills of the Asti area, it is not a celebration without a plate of agnolotti, bagna cauda and a bottle of excellent Grignolino, shared at the table with relatives and friends, at the Bergoglio home in Portacomaro, or in Buenos Aires. Mindful of his origins, Pope Francis thoroughly enjoys good Italian food. He once jokingly told the story of when he was Archbishop in the Argentine capital, and went to a convent of Italian nuns to enjoy a dish of bread soaked in bagna cauda, and then when he was elected Pontiff, he invited his relatives to the Vatican to enjoy the Piedmont dish made with anchovies and garlic, all together.
“I greatly appreciated your gesture and the sentiment that accompanied it. Continue in your commitment to caring for the Creation and promoting solidarity initiatives”, as well as more intense and available activities in defense of nature and improving the products of the earth, Bergoglio wrote in his famous letter to thank the “welcome gift of Laudato wine”, sent to the Vatican by the Laudato Sì Community of the People & Towns in Portacomaro Foundation.
Grignolino d’Asti DOC, symbol of Monferrato and its wines, which evokes the Encyclical Laudato Sì of the Pope to protect the Creation, is not intended to be traded, but to raise funds for solidarity projects, including through the network of Laudato Sì Communities, launched by the Church of Rieti as well as by Slow Food and its founder, Carlo Petrini.
The Pontiff’s words were addressed, among others, to Carlo Cerrato, president of the Foundation that curates the “Vigna del Papa” of Portacomaro, created on March 13, 2013, the day Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to the Papal throne. The Municipality and the entire community are the owners of the vineyard dedicated to the Holy Father. Since the first harvest in 2016, the wine produced has been renamed the “wine of Pope Francis”. And he was also WineNews’ special correspondent.
Alessandro Balliano, the mayor of Portacomaro, per tradition, gave Pope Francis a basket of excellent products from Monferrato, including the latest vintage, 2021, of Grignolino Laudato Sì.

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