Teobaldo Cappellano, the respected and controversial Barolo producer, has died at 65.
Cappellano – known to friends as Baldo – was an outspoken traditionalist who often joined forces with Beppe Rinaldi and the late Bartolo Mascarello. They referred to themselves as the ‘Last of the Mohicans’ for their fierce determination to defend classically crafted Barolos.
A purist who believed that the future of Barolo lay in the denomination’s traditional winemaking methods, he shunned barriques, over-extraction and excessive concentration. He also denigrated contemporary scoring systems and refused to submit his wines for rating.
The late winemaker’s complex Barolos were produced in tiny quantities. His Barolo Otin Fiorin Piè Franco, made with grapes from ungrafted vines, was particularly sought by collectors the world over.
When asked what he would do if the vines were ever attacked by phylloxera, Cappellano said, ‘At least I’ll be able to say that I had fun making these wines.’
Cappellano was also famous for his Barolo Chinato liqueur, invented by his great-uncle in 1895. He was also one of the founders and president of the Vini Veri association which promotes natural wines made with stricter standards than certified organic wines. Although the group shares some of Steiner’s philosophy, Vini Veri is not technically biodynamic.
An avid critic of Italy’s DOC/DOCG system, Cappellano advocated radical changes.
His son Augusto recently joined the estate and will continue making wine there.
Written by Kerin O’Keefe