Romano Levi passed away in 2008 and there is a hole in my experience where there could have been a visit to meet him at the distillery where he lived. He was the father of a grappa that clung to and changed the texture of my senses, in the same way that moss grows on the hard bark of a tree. It is true, as a friend said to me, that in the Piemonte there is a generational change occurring. Bartolo is dead. Baldo is dead. Battista Rinaldi is dead. At many of the producers you have heard of the famous name behind the label is 60, 70, 80 years old. Their children, who have cellphones, who have Facebook, who have left the region to travel, now guide the tours. And I love all of those people. But Romano had no children, and for me the connection is lost. Just as it is for Zabaldano. Or Franco Fiorina.
Recently I discovered that the Levi distillery was still in operation, which surprised me. The workers appeared to be using the old methods, and in homage to Romano. I thought I had found my second chance. I scheduled a visit as soon as I could.
I tasted the grappa that is being sold by the distillery today. Some of the hallmarks of a Levi grappa were there stylistically, but they seemed to be living without vital organs. Hollowed out from the inside. The labels for which the distillery was famous are now photocopied and colored in. There is a riserva grappa on offer. Also a special riserva. And there is a lot of alcoholic heat. "They're hot" has always been a criticism leveled at Levi grappa by those who have never liked them, but this was the first time that I had tasted the heat myself.
I became a bit sick during the visit. I realized that there would be no reunion. I remembered as a child I had let a houseplant die through neglect, and afterwards I had over watered it, hoping the life would come back like before. This was the same. It was gone. I didn't want to write this post, or the article for publication that I had planned, and I wasn't going to.
Bedroom in Arles.
cultivated the ruta.
There was the still room.
I was unsure what to make of the combination.