Modern wine producers should take off their designer ties and get back into the vineyard, Decanter's Man of the Year 2011, Giacomo Tachis, says in the latest issue of Decanter magazine.
The ‘father of Italian wine’, who has been named Decanter Man of the Year2011, is recognised as the guiding light behind the renaissance of Italian wine in the 1970s and 80s.
Tachis, now 77, ‘belongs to that small, select group who changed the course of Italian wine,’ writes Richard Baudains in the April issue of Decanter magazine.
Tachis joined Antinori’s San Casciano winery in Tuscany in 1961 as a junior oenologist, rose to technical director, and in 1968, in a move which was to cement his reputation as an innovator, he lent his services to the Bolgheri estate of San Guido to help in the creation of a new wine – Sassicaia.
In five decades at the forefront of Italian winemaking, the Piedmont-born Tachis has been instrumental in the introduction of practices that are 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, Tignanello and Solaia, that Tachis is most renowned.
‘It was a period that marked a new epoch,’ Baudains writes, recalling the moment when Sassicaia came top in a Decanter Cabernet tasting in 1978.
‘His place in wine history is first and foremost for realising the Tuscan dream of superlative wines,’ Hugh Johnson says in a tribute.
Tachis cites the great Bordeaux oenologist Emile Peynaud as one of his heroes, Baudains makes clear his ‘sense of identity is firmly and fundamentally Italian’.
And despite his retirement, he retains a deep interest in the future of wine. He speaks out, for example, against the modern obsession with high prices.
‘The wine producer has to take off his Hermès tie and drive a car suited to vineyards rather than motorways,’ he says.
‘Consumers are becoming more and more aware that high prices don’t necessarily mean high quality.’
Giacomo Tachis is interviewed in the April issue of Decanter magazine, out now.
Decanter Men (and Women) of the Year 1984-2010
2010 Aubert de Villaine – Burgundy
2009 Nicolas Catena – Mendoza, Argentina
2008 Christian Moueix – Pomerol
2007 Anthony Barton – Bordeaux
2006 Marcel Guigal – Rhône
2005 Ernst Loosen – Mosel
2004 Brian Croser – Adelaide Hills
2003 Jean-Michel Cazes – Bordeaux
2002 Miguel Torres – Penedès
2001 Jean-Claude Rouzaud – Champagne
2000 Paul Draper – California
1999 Jancis Robinson MW – London
1998 Angelo Gaja – Piedmont
1997 Len Evans, OBE AO-Australia
1996 Georg Riedel – Austria
1995 Hugh Johnson – London
1994 May-Eliane de Lencquesaing – Bordeaux
1993 Michael Broadbent – London
1992 André Tchelistcheff – California
1991José Ignacio Domecq – Jerez
1990 Prof Emile Peynaud – Bordeaux
1989 Robert Mondavi – California
1988 Max Schubert – Australia
1987 Alexis Lichine – Bordeaux
1986 Marchese Piero Antinori – Florence
1985 Laura and Corinne Mentzelopoulos – Bordeaux
1984 Serge Hochar – Lebanon
Written by Adam Lechmere