Italian Wine Producer Andrea Franchetti Dies

Andrea Franchetti.

Photo provided

Andrea Franchettti

Andrea Franchetti.

Photo provided

He was one of the most unconventional personalities in the international wine world. He was often shy, big public appearances were not his thing. He preferred to let his wines speak for him. In private, however, one could talk to him for hours about wines, not only his own but many others from all over the world.

Andrea Franchetti was a proven connoisseur of wine regions globally, he knew as much about the great French grape varieties as he did about the old Italian ones – and he made great wines from both. On the night of 5 to 6 December, Andrea Franchetti, who suffered from an incurable illness, died at the age of 72 in his home in Rome.

The son of an Italian father and an American mother, Andrea Franchetti grew up in Rome. He always had a passion for wine and food. While still in his teens, he founded restaurants in Rome and the Marche region. In the 1980s, he went to New York where he dedicated himself to importing great Italian wines. His adventure as a winemaker began in the 1990s. On the border of Tuscany and Lazio, he began to restore an old country house.

He decided to plant vineyards there as well. But since he had no idea about the winemaking trade, he decided to go to Bordeaux on the spur of the moment. There he learned the art and philosophy of winemaking from great masters such as Peter Vinding, Peter Sisseck, Alain Vauthier of Ausone and Luc Thunevin of Valandraud. In 1991, he planted his first vineyards with plant meterial from Bordeaux and in 1997, after a few years of experimentation, he produced the first vintage of Tenuta di Trinoro, which was immediately well received by international critics.

In 2000, he visited Sicily, fell in love with Mount Etna at first sight, and began to build a winery in Passopisciaro. By reclaiming the old Nerello Mascalese vineyards and planting new vineyards with varieties such as Petit Verdot, Cesanese di Affile and Chardonnay, he and a handful of other pioneers contributed to the oenological renaissance of the Etna area.

Andrea Franchetti was one of the first to recognise the potential of individual sites composed of different lava flows. Following the Burgundian model of crus or climats, he introduced the concept of contrada wines. Franchetti's achievements on Etna include not only the creation of contrada wines, but also the founding of the renowned international wine festival Le Contrade dell'Etna, at which the now numerous Etna wineries present their new wines every year.

Ciao Andrea, fai buon viaggio! Though your wines we will remember you for a long time...