Above: Note the bright purple hue of the wine in the glass, a classic expression of traditional style Dolcetto. Click image for a higher resolution version of the photo.
Conversation yesterday afternoon with Einaudi scion Matteo Sardagna began with a tasting of his family’s wines but ended with topics of much loftier import.
As it turns out, before he became a family man, Matteo spent some years living in Buenos Aires with Gigi Rizzi, the legendary Italian 1960s playboy who became tabloid fodder after he had a much publicized liaison with Brigitte Bardot.
Image via Gigi Rizzi’s MySpace.
How did we get from Dolcetto di Dogliani to Brigitte Bardot and Gigi Rizzi?
When I learned that Matteo would be in NYC this weekend, I invited him — of course — to see our show there (my band Nous Non Plus is playing at Fontana’s on the Lower East Side this Saturday, Jan. 26).
He asked me what kind of music we play. And when I told him yé-yé pop and indy rock inspired by 1960s France, he proudly announced that he was an intimiate friend of Gigi (and I have to confess that I was captivated by his tales of Gigi; Céline Dijon and I are already working on a song about Gigi, whom, according to Matteo, also slept with Alain Delon’s wife during the — ahem — peak of his fame).
Above: My buddy and top Austin sommelier Mark Sayre (left) and Matteo yesterday at Trio where Mark runs one of our favorite local wine programs.
Matteo was in town to promote his wines (and was nearly devoured by the Austin ladies who received him the night before at a dinner in his honor; “they were a little aggressive,” he said with a modestly wry smile).
As we tasted his wines (and before I discovered his association with Gigi Rizzi, whose name alone could be the subject of a doctoral thesis on 1960s sexuality), I grilled Matteo with questions about his great-grandfather, Luigi Einaudi, the second president of the Italian Republic, iconic twentieth century economist, anti-fascist, and winemaker.
His interest in winemaking, said Matteo of Luigi, was borne out of a childhood of poverty.
“My great-grandfather wanted to own land,” he told me. When he was in his twenties, “you were no one if you did not own land.”
In the years that followed the second world war, Luigi fulfilled his dream and started a farm and winery on his estate.
But he never managed to obtain a parcel in the famed Cannubi vineyard in Langa that he so coveted.
“He tried to buy [a parcel] in Cannubi,” recounted Matteo, “but when they found out that a president was behind this purchase, they raised the price.”
Ultimately, in the late 1990s, the family did purchase a substantial holding in Cannubi (and produces a vineyard-designated Barolo made from Cannubi).
(Einaudi is one of the wineries who are battling the Marchesi di Barolo’s misguided attempt to expand the designation.)
Matteo concurred when I noted that Einaudi’s wines fall somewhere in the middle of the modern-traditional spectrum.
My favorite in the flight was the entry-level Dolcetto (above), classic in style, low in alcohol and with bright fruit and acidity, juicy and food friendly (such a great hamburger and fries wine).
You never know what to expect when you meet someone like Matteo, a winery CEO from one of Italy’s most famous families (whose fortune comes from the industrial piping business his grandfather founded).
Dolcetto and Brigitte Bardot? I’ll drink to that any day of the week…
Come see my band play in NYC (Jan. 26), Austin (Feb. 9), LA (Feb. 14), or SF (Feb. 15). Click here for details.