Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Giacomo Tachis The Mescolavin: A Book in Honour of One of Italy's Greatest Winemakers

A legend in the history of Italian wine, Giacomo Tachis is one of those winemakers that did not go unnoticed. He was the man behind some of the most expensive wines, like Supertuscans Sassicaia, Solaia and Tignanello, as well as other top quality wines from indigenous grape varietals such as Carignano in Sardegna. He worked for more than 30 years with the Antinori family in Tuscany, and collaborated with wineries in other Italian regions, as well. He passed away in February 2016 and has left a strong legacy in the Italian wine industry that is still strongly felt today.

Photographer Bruno Bruchi and author Andrea Cappelli have revisited the places where Tachis worked and have done an extensive research on his life to put together a book “Giacomo Tachis Mescolavin”, edited by Carlo Cambi Editore and funded by the Chianti Banca Foundation. It is sold online at 125 euros and was presented at the convention of Saturday Novemeber 10th at the Cantina Santadi, where Tachis used to work and one of the better known wineries in southern Sardinia, near Cagliari, in an area especially known for the Carignano del Sulcis, a red wine characterized by smooth tannins and red berry aromas. 


Front page of the book featuring the Mozia charioteer, a Greek marble sculpture, and the cellar (Ph Bruno Bruchi)

Front side of Cantina Santadi (Ph Bruno Bruchi)


Born and raised in Piedmont, Tuscan by adoption, Tachis had a special place for Sardinia in his heart. His love for the Sardinian people, the land, food and the sea, which he used to contemplate, led Tachis enjoy Sardinia every time he had to go there for work. He had, indeed, a special interest for islands in general for their cultural and geographical uniqueness. 

The mescolavin is a word that means “the mixer of wines”, and though it could be seen as a negative word, it was actually the way in which he Tachis wanted to be called. He saw himself as the person who was in charge of making the most out of the grape varietals and vineyards he had at disposal. He was a strong believer that good wine could only be made by good grapes grown in a land where the vines suffered a little bit to get the nutrients from the soil, know-how and, above all, passion.  

The convention started with the opening of the street “Giacomo Tachis”, in front of the winery, followed by the inauguration of the torso of Giacomo Tachis made by professor Carlo Pizzichini from the University of Fine Arts in Florence. The daughter Ilaria Tachis and president Pilloni presented the torso to the public.


Presentation of the torso with Ilaria Tachis, daughter of the winemaker, and Antonello Pilloni, president of Cantina di Santadi (Ph Bruno Bruchi)


Several notable people working in the wine industry and people who collaborated with Tachis remembered him with fond memories at the convention. The profile that appears is the one of a man who loved making wine, as well as a true professional who strongly believed in the experience done in the field, even more than in university, to fully grasp winemaking. He used to say: “University starts now!” to aspiring winemakers who just left university. There were many fun and interesting anecdotes that came through during the homage to his life. 

Marchese Piero Antinori, who worked with him for over 30 years, remembered when the winemaker used to drive at different speed times, according to what wine he was thinking about. Presumably, the marchese added: "a wine about which he was not happy would slow him down, whereas a wine that he thought that did really well would make him go really fast". Marchese Guerrieri Gonzaga from Tenuta San Leonardo winery remembers that once in a lab he asked him what wine was his favourite and, after having pointed to a particular one, Tachis used to say: “That’s good, but the wine we are going to make is the other one!”. After all, he already had in his mind the final result that he wanted to achieve. Futhermore, the president of Cantina Santadi Pilloni stressed the strong attachment that Tachis had for the land and the deep relationship that the two have established. He was not just a collaborator, rather a very close friend. 


President Pilloni remembers Giacomo Tachis (Ph Bruno Bruchi)

Tachis was a lover of fine gastronomy and particularly enjoyed Sardinian food fondly, along with the genuine character of the Sardinian people. Thus, to honor the man and the wines that he helped to produce, the participants went to the restaurant Antigo Borgo in Narcao where the Santadi wines were enjoyed alongside local delicacies such as the famous Sardinian “porceddu”, suckling piglet flavoured with herbs as resemary and roasted traditionally with juniper wood.



The following day, after a very engaging and interesting visit to the Sant’Antioco archeological museum, we had a tasting at the winery, where local products were showcased. Pecorino cheese, Sardinian honey, local tomatoes, fennel, salami and many other gastronomic products were enjoyed, while a local band played music. Wines from other wineries could also be tasted. Particularly, the red Piede Franco Calasetta, made with pre-philoxera vines, impressed me for its finesse, smoothness and length in the mouth. The lunch at the winery featured also a beef, which was cooked at the open air at the winery for around 10 hours. Five wines from the Santadi wines led me to appreciate the excellent work carried out by the winery. The first two are Carignano 100%: Grottarossa is more fresh with red berry notes, the Rocca Rubia has more body, spicy and cherry jam notes. The Barrua is a full bodied red made with Carignano, with the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It features balsamic and dark chocolate notes. I was also lucky enought to get a taste of the Terre Brune 1999, pure Carignano, which was still alive and kicking, with some tertiary notes as balsamic, sour cherry jam and an extremely long finish.  Finally, the sweet passito Latinia is made with Nasco grape variety and has aromas of thyme, almond and dried apricots. It has high aging potential and very long length in the mouth. 


 Grottarossa, Rocca Rubia and Barrua (Ph Giuseppe De Cesare)

Latinia Passito (Ph Giuseppe De Cesare)

The tomatoes at the stand of Cooperativa Santa Margherita (ph Giuseppe De Cesare)



Slow cooking of the beef at the winery (Ph Giuseppe De Cesare)

The legacy of Tachis still lives on today. The convention showed to the public some of the lesser known aspects related to the character of Tachis. His professionalism made him highly respected in the wine industry, and he was also very much liked for his human character. A lover of life, passionate about fine food and wine, strongly linked with the Sardinian territory, where he has been indeed remembered with the attention that he deserved.

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Location: 78, Via Cagliari, 09010 Santadi CI, Italia