“Patiently and phlegmatically”: Giulio Gambelli, more remembrances…

Photo via Decanter.

A few more remembrances of Giulio Gambelli, whose transcendant personality galvanized a generation of Sangiovese growers, bottlers, shippers, and lovers…

From Lavinium, a passage quoted from Carlo Macchi’s hagiography of Gambelli (in Carlo’s voice; translation mine):

    A few years ago I was with Giulio at the Isvea Laboratory. A woman approached us with a printout of analysis results in one hand, a glass in the other.

    “Giulio,” she asked, “What’s the acidity [level] in this wine?”

    Giulio took a sip of the wine, spit (with his signature radial spitting technique), and then declared, “5… 5.2 at the most!”

    The girl read her results on the printout and then grumbled peevishly, “I must have done the analysis wrong!”

A heartfelt and very Tuscan tribute by friend and Montalcino great Fabrizio Bindocci:

    A highly capable man but at the same time a paragon of modesty who believed in the potential of Tuscan wines produced using only Sangiovese. He always said that winemakers are the ones who make the wines together with the land and the vine. He was a simple taster who gave his advice to winemakers on what to do in the cellar without forcing them to denaturalize their wines.

    He made his first visit to Montalcino in the early 1970s when the Consortium of Brunello di Montalcino asked him to visit all of the producers in the appellation. He drove his famous Renault 4 from winery to winery, tasted the wine from the barrel or vat, and then he would patiently and phlegmatically explain the importance of cleanliness in the cellar, precision in vinification, the importance of racking, etc. But always with the humility typical of the greats in the world of wine.

Patiently and phlegmatically… Words to live by…

The world of Italian wine mourns Giulio Gambelli, the great maestro of Sangiovese

Sit tibi terra [tuscolana] levis Juli.

When Italy’s top wine blogger Franco Ziliani wrote me yesterday to share the news that the great Maestro of Sangiovese, Giulio Gambelli (left, photo by A. Pagliantini via Enoclub Siena) had left this world for another, the feeds were already overflowing with tributes for the man who shaped a generation of winemakers in Tuscany and helped to craft some of the world’s greatest wines (see below). As Tuscany continues to abandon the traditional-style Sangiovese (“translucent and profound” to borrow Aldo’s phrase) that he championed, it’s hard not to imagine that his passing will not be remembered as the end of an era…

I’ve translated a few passages below (with links to the orignal posts for Italophones).

A very sad new year for the world of Italian wine: Giulio Gambelli, 87, the great maestro of Sangiovese has died in Poggibonsi, Tuscany. Gambelli was not an enologist but rather a master taster and the world’s greatest expert on Sangiovese — the often challenging, supreme grape of Italy. He was a modest, unassuming person, wine’s humble servant, not an oversized personality but rather an anti-celebrity. To his friends, he was known affectionately as Bicchierino, the little glass.

—Franco Ziliani

He was the man who had taught all the producers in Montalcino how to make wine, not to mention a healthy slice of Chianti Classico. He was a (towering) piece of the history of the last 60 years in Tuscan winemaking. But if you told him so, he would start laughing and he would huff and puff, unamused because he didn’t want to carry the weight for something that he did out of pure passion and because he loved to do it.

—Carlo Macchi

For those who didn’t know him, the following are just some of the Sangiovese producers for whom he consulted: Montevertine, Poggio di Sotto, Soldera, Ormanni, Villa Rosa, Bibbiano, San Donatino…

Gambelli had taught winemaking to so many producers in Montalcino and Chianti Classico that the adjective gambelliano had come to denote true Sangiovese…

—Aldo Fiordelli

Decanter’s obit here.

Photo by Consumazione obbligatoria.