Above: Teobaldo Cappellano in his cellar (photo courtesy of Polaner).
I met Teobaldo Cappellano on a number of occasions and enjoyed his wines immensely. He was a staunch, vocal defender of traditional winemaking and his Barolo was aged in large, old-oak casks. He fought tirelessly against the homogenization and over-commercialization of wine and was a steadfast opponent of the use of international grape varieties in Italian wine. His uncle, a pharmacist, was the creator Barolo Chinato, and Cappellano’s chinato was widely considered the best. It was a treat to get to taste with him over the last few years at Vini Veri and I felt honored to report on his contribution to the Brunello Debate in October 2008. If you speak Italian (and even if you don’t), I encourage you to watch the archived stream of the debate at Franco’s blog (just visit the blog and you’ll find it embedded to the right). His cadenced authority is matched only by his emboldened passion.
In his post today at Vocativo, Luigi Metropoli reminded us of Baldo’s motto: io evolvo all’indietro, “I evolve backwards.”
The world of wine has lost one of its great rabbis — if not the greatest.
Today, the blogosphere is flooded with tributes and memories of Baldo, as he was known. I’ve collected and translated some passages below.
The world of wine — and not just Piedmontese wine and not just the Barolo and Langa community (which he represented with authority) — is in mourning today for the sudden and cruel passing of Teobaldo Cappellano. He was a tireless activist and an advocate of lost causes — causes even more worthy for the very fact they were lost — because when you know that you have no chance to prevail, defending your beliefs is even more righteous.
—Franco Ziliani, Vino al Vino
Langa and the entire world of Italian wine are orphans today. Everything will be more complicated now that destiny has shown us high noon.
—Marco Arturi, Porthos
One of those gentle giants, long and weedy, he is winemaker, jokester, philosopher.
The last of the Mohicans.
Barolo has died.
Someone like Baldo Cappellano cannot die.
He was a winemaker philosopher.