Goodbye Master: Giacomo Tachis, legend of Italian winemaking, dies at 82

February 15, 2016

Giacomo Tachis has died: the legend of Italian winemaking, famous for bringing French influence to the Belpaese wine production during the ’60s and ’70s, passed away a few days ago in his home in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Tuscany. He was 82.

According to his daughter Ilaria, the cause of his death was complications of Parkinson’s disease and heart disease.

Giacomo Tachis is considered one of the winemakers to have led the re-birth of Italian fine wine in the 20th century, most prominently via the new Super Tuscan, and was named Decanter Man of the Year in 2011 for his extraordinary contribution to Italian wine.

“Giacomo Tachis changed the style of Italian wine, dragging it — kicking and screaming — into the 20th century,” wine expert Jancis Robinson wrote at that time. “And by changing the style of the wines, he changed the way in which they are perceived. Without him, Italian wine would not be as successful as it is today.”

Tachis was born in Piedmont in 1933, and yet his groundbreaking work was predominant in Tuscany, where he pioneered the use of Cabernet Sauvignon near to the Tuscan coast, therefore leading to the development of what are now called the “Super Tuscan wines”.

The Italian master enologist was especially famous for producing Sassicaia, Tignanello, Turriga and Solaia with the Antinori family, with whom he worked from 1961 to 1992. Sassicaia was especially perfected thanks to Tachis, whose expertise is now mourned by the entire wine world.

Winemag remembers Tachis by talking about “his innovative spirit” which “helped overhaul how wine was made in Italy at the time by introducing cutting edge techniques including temperature-controlled fermentation, malolactic fermentation and aging in barriques. He also changed how vineyards were managed, especially in Tuscany, and encouraged growers to use the spurred cordon training method and to plant south-facing vines”.

Tachis retired from his position with the Antinori family in 1992 and, for the following 8 years, worked as a full-time consultant enologist for amazing Tuscan clients, such as Tenuta San Guido, Sardinian brands, such as Santadi and Argiolas, and for the Sicily’s Istituto della Vite e Vino, where he worked with Donnafugata.

He finally retired in his home in San Casciano Val di Pesa in Tuscany in 2010, where he spent the last years of his life.

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