In what has been an otherwise extraordinary season, I was more than saddened this week to learn of the death of Andrea Franchetti.
Franchetti was—like the monuments of his native Rome or the eruptions of Mount Etna, where he shaped the 21st century wine scene—someone I just always expected to be there.
His mind was young, and he was one of the most interesting characters about whom I’ve written: the ultimate nonconformist and iconoclast with a personality that was a cross between old world nobleman and the original hipster.
He was also astonishingly truthful and self-reflective and laid it all out in a poetic sort of word jazz. No one else would have ever told me that for his first Nerello Mascalese vintage on Etna about 20 years ago, he smuggled in a barrel of his merlot from Tuscany to throw in the mix—even though it was illegal.
That was Franchetti, who I wrote about in both Palmento (2010) and my new book South of Somewhere: Wine, Food and the Soul of Italy.
His life—from the Dolce Vita 1960s of Rome to adventures that took him to Afghanistan, New York, Bordeaux, Tuscany and Sicily, is the stuff of a novel. Do read my tribute at winespectator.com, which I hope is worthy of the man.