Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Marco De Bartoli, one of the bravest wine pioneers of the past half century, dead

My personal hero Marco De Bartoli, pictured at the wheel and on the road from Messina, 1972.
Marco drove a Lancia Fulvia.

The Great Marco De Bartoli, a man who single handedly tried to revive an entire industry and a forgotten wine based solely on his longing for the sips of supernal old Marsala that he had tried as a child in his family's bodega, has passed on.

When no one else cared to, Marco tried to push through initiatives to allow for higher quality wines from Sicilia, and for that he was locked out of his own winery for several years.

A former race car driver, Marco used his local fame to champion the cause of layered, nuanced, and unforgettable Marsala and Passito di Pantelleria. He ran two wineries on two islands, and set the absolute high water marks at both, within the respective styles.

When I think of heroic winemaking, and the sheer will to make something great in the face of absolute neglect, I think of Marco De Bartoli.

He was an ardent translator of Samperi, and the only real caretaker of one of the wine world's great legacies, Marsala.

Marco delivered some of Italy's most profound wines.

Honestly, he was my hero.

1 comment:

Sput said...

Right on, Levi...

I had the honour of visiting de Bartoli in 07 and again in 08 with a small group of international travellers I was leading...

Marco was shadowing his son Renato as we tasted both times and the experience could only be described as out of body...

I was there with a group of folks who had no idea of what he and his family meant to the history of Sicilian wine and by the end they were all transfixed...

Renato proceeded to delve into the cellar for old vintages as people became aware of the allure of fine Marsala and Pantellerian wines...

I feel very blessed to have seen this power of transformation and the ability of history, winemaking and culture all merge into one with a small group of otherwise uninformed people...

Cheers

Adam