The world laments the loss of Giacomo Tachis
On 6th February the wine world stopped. Giacomo Tachis passed away at the age of 82. These last few years, especially the past few months, had been very hard for him and his family. And always, when I look back on my formative professional years, I recall some episodes where Giacomo Tachis taught me something.
My last memory
Even the last time, at Antinori Palace, when he was nominated Man of the Year by Decanter. All it needed was his look of a cunning ferret and a few words and many things made sense to me. I had only recently lost my grandfather, Pino Khail, who had organised great things together with him. With just a glance from tearful eyes, he managed to tell me much more than many others had done with their excessive eulogies. The two of them had something in common, certainly rigour and class, and now they will be in good company, we hope, with Veronelli, Soldati and everyone else who has done something really useful for the wine world.
The father of modern Italian winemaking
Though he, perhaps, more than anyone else in Italy. It may sound pompous, but that’s how it is: Tachis was the father of the rebirth of Italian wine. And among his many visions, I would like to mention the association between two elements that make his lesson unique: he was the first to firmly believe that it was necessary to follow science, especially microbiology, to get the best from a great wine, but at the same time he never let science cool his passion, so he accompanied every observation he made with erudite quotes, mentions of classical authors, and not only Pliny and Columella, or Galileo (who he was particularly fond of).
Science and passion
When I asked him about wines from Sicily and Sardinia, he suggested I read sociological treatises on the Mediterranean myth. Also memorable was his intervention in this theme in Sardinia, at the presentation of a myrtle liqueur. In a place of rare charm, such as the Nuragic sanctuary of Santa Cristina, Tachis’s words are still like music in my memory. And again, never had a winemaker before Tachis been asked to talk about a wine in the temple of Segesta. Only Tachis could do it (and I remember his outrage when he found out that the band Stadio would be playing there the same evening, “a pop group … for heaven’s sake!”).
“I’m just a wine blender”
Obviously I could remember dozens of episodes where the great winemaker taught me to love life and, first and foremost, culture. Then again, if you reminded him that he was considered the father of modern Italian winemaking, he would shrink back and say “I’m just a wine blender”. Then he went on to speak about the role of microbiology and the studies carried out at the University of Pisa, which he considered to be the future of wine. And again, quote after quote: “I wasn’t able to study,” he said, “that’s why I’m hungry for culture. I’m an amateur, but you must never stop dreaming.” Humble, but not at all modest, technical, but literary. Unique. And to finish up, his human grandeur: he gave us so much, he knew how to leave something to everyone. He was a part of that mankind that cultivated beauty, sowed wisdom and knowledge. Almost everyone in this world owes him something important: a word, a lesson and, the bottom line, some unforgettable wines.