Year 12 | 22 January 2020 | TO ENTER | TO REGISTER

Giacomo Tachis: "The good wine is open minded”

The creator of many celebrated Tignanello e Sassicaia tells us about the price of wines, the addition of sugar, the choice of steel, wood or concrete, the use of additives and more

Giacomo Tachis was born in Poirino, small village in the Turin province, in 1933. He obtained a diploma in enology with the Specialization School of Alba in 1954. His professional life has been strongly influenced by his experience with the Antinori Cellars, where he was technical director for more than thirty years. Tachis the “boy”, as he likes to define himself, experiments and studies, for years, with the French school and the Antinori brand produces the Tignanello, while the Incisa Cellars produce the Sassicaia, both wines that gave a new boost to the Italian production in the world.

After retiring, his undoubted vitality, both physical and mental, brought him to know other realities and work as a consultant in other regions, such as Sicily, Sardinia, Trentino, Marche, Tuscany. He has been collaborating with the Agrarian Faculty of the University of Pisa, which awarded him a honoris causa degree in Agrarian Science, since 1999. He is also a prolific collaborator of wine journals and correspondent member of the Italian Academy of Vineyards and Wine and of Georgofily Academy.

How much did French studies and knowledge contributed to the Italian enology and wine industry?
We owe to the French 50 to 60% of our current wine culture, less for the cultivation of vineyards. Do not forget about marketing. French are good at selling science, and even more wines.

Which progress was made in Italy and who contributed most?
Other than the French (the Treaty on Enology by Ribereau – Gayon is the enologist’ bible), much was done by Italian technicians. Our professors were very good at translating foreign books, not to bring new contents. For instance, the malolattic fermentation was studied by technicians in Italy, who were supported by wine industries, without any contribution from the academy.

Why have Italians become aware of the potential of their wines so late?
This is not true. In Italy we always had been victims of servility and xenophilia. In the Gattopardo, the Prince of Salina drank French wines because it was chic and trendy, neglecting the great Sicilian wines that “adjusted” the French ones. He basically drank Sicilian wines under French labels.

Other than French and Italy, several other countries make excellent wines. Should web e afraid of them?
There is for all in the world, we should not be afraid because Europe is still Europe for culture, style and finesse. Europe will always be trendy and imitated, so we can be interested in supporting France as a symbol, just as much as we are interested in supporting Biondi Santi in Tuscany, which is a wine as good as any, with the best name.

Speaking of Italian-French disputes, would you allow to add sugar during the fermentation of the must?
Yes, indicating the addition on the label, to inform the consumers.

Steel, concrete or wood for the fermentation?
Wine is alive and must be treated and respected as such. Would you live in a steel house? I think you would not. Steel tubs are useful to control temperature and hygiene. For the rest, I would recommend concrete or wood only when the climatic conditions allow their use.

Additives and numberless selections of yeasts. Are they really useful for the enologist or are they more useful as a commercial tool?
For the commercial, a product must be useful. I believe that they are not necessary, but some are useful. An example of how the commercial skills sometimes compensates the technical ones are the yeasts pots which are abused, for a scandalous use. the technician often struggles in dealing with a skilled commercial.

How important the professional ability to be constantly updated?
An awful lot, but you cannot live with technical reading only. You have to broaden your mind, because you cannot say that you know the technique if you do not know history, including the history of technique. A broader horizon allows to address issues that you have not imagined yet, increases sensitivity and helps to better tackle technical and practical issues.

What about the price of wines? Is there a risk that wine will become a elite product?
Nowadays, prices are excessive. The wine always has poor origins, but the commercial success gives him added value. The commercial success is in turn related to the quality, but also a quality wine was born as a poor product.

Years: how much is true and how much is marketing?
The year expresses climatic conditions that change from year to year. That said, we have to remember that good food, like what constitutes a satisfactory life (even a good wife!), is related to matters that do not have a biological explanation, but social reasons. Levi-Strauss correctly said that good food must be thought as good before being good to eat. Same for wine.

by Alberto Grimelli
05 october 2009, Food Notes > Miscellanea