Decanter's Man of the Year for 2011, Giacomo Tachis, was formally presented with the award last night at a dinner in Florence.
The Italian winemaker was honoured at the event, held at the Palazzo Antinori.
The site was appropriate: it was with the Antinori family that Tachis made arguably his three most renowned wines – the ‘SuperTuscans’ Sassicaia, Tignanello and Solaia.
Family, friends and colleagues gathered to hear Decanter publishing director Sarah Kemp pay tribute to Tachis. In her presentation speech, she said Tachis had ‘made a significant difference to the world of wine, and have exerted an extraordinary influence on Italian wine – an influence that will live on’.
‘You are the father of Italy’s wine renaissance,’ she said. ‘You have been responsible for raising the quality of wine across the length and breadth of Italy, from Trentino to Sardinia and everywhere in between.’
Piero Antinori, head of the eponymous Tuscan producer, added: ‘Giacomo Tachis was responsible for kickstarting an extraordinary period for Italian wine.’
Antinori drew comparisons with previous Decanter Men of the Year, including Robert Mondavi and, notably, the Bordeaux oenologist Emile Peynaud, whom Tachis acknowledges as his mentor.
Tachis, now 78, joked that wine had been used as medicine back in the time when Palazzo Antinori was built, in the 15th century, and that he would be continuing the tradition.
Tachis was given the award for a lifetime of work across Italy. In five decades at the forefront of Italian winemaking, the Piedmont-born consultant was instrumental in the introduction of several refinements now standard at the top end of Italian wine production: clonal selection, high-density, low-yielding vineyards, and refinements in malolactic fermention and oak ageing.
But it is for the introduction of Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals in the original ‘SuperTuscans’, Sassicaia (which Tachis made with Piero Antinori’s cousin Nicolo Incisa), Solaia and Tignanello (of which the 1982 vintage was poured last night) that Tachis is most renowned.
As Decanter’s lead Italian contributor Richard Baudains made clear in his interview with Tachis in Decanter’s April issue, however, ‘his sense of identity is firmly and fundamentally Italian’.
Richard Baudains’ original interview with Giacomo Tachis
Written by Guy Woodward in Florence