By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO for the New York Times
COLLOREDO DI PRATO, Italy — Vini Lunardelli is no stranger to controversy. Every year, it seems, usually during the summer, a tourist will happen upon its wines with their outrageous labels and make a fuss that is then picked up by the local — and sometimes national and international — media.
This year, the fuss picked up some extra heft when it was raised by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Infuriated by wine labels that portray Hitler and sundry members of the Nazi hierarchy, the Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights group called on distributors this month to stop handling Lunardelli wines.
Though Lunardelli has been selling Nazi-themed wines for 20 years, the once-idiosyncratic marketing device is even more intolerable these days, center officials said, with the rising incidence of anti-Semitism in Europe.
“What is the condition of Jewish life in Europe: is it getting better or worse? It’s getting much worse,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Wiesenthal center, citing recent disturbing episodes in France, Greece, Hungary, Eastern Europe and Spain, where earlier this week a banner appeared at a bullfight with the slogan: “Adolf Hitler was right.”