Wine Star: Eataly's Oscar Farinetti

The Italian food entrepreneur–turned-vintner looks back at Barolo's 1999 vintage, the last in a "terrible century"

Wine Star: Eataly's Oscar Farinetti
Eataly founder and Giacomo Borgogno & Figli owner Oscar Farinetti (Rick Wenner)
Oct 21, 2019

Exhibiting a joyful energy that would enliven any room, Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti began his presentation of the Giacomo Borgogno & Figli Barolo Riserva 1999 with a light-hearted apology to the New York Wine Experience guests. “Sorry for my English. I know only 120, 130 words,” the Piedmont native said to an eruption of laughter. “But it’s no problem. With 100 words, it’s possible for me to tell you all and for you to understand all.”

Farinetti proceeded to cover as much ground as he could, touching on the catastrophes of last century, the importance of historical memory and the greatness of the Langhe hills. Farinetti purchased Barolo's Giacomo Borgogno estate in 2007, a year after creating the first Eataly marketplace, now in more than two dozen locations worldwide. Today, Farinetti—described by senior editor Bruce Sanderson as “driven, seemingly unstoppable”—owns 10 wineries in Italy. (See some of his holdings.)

Farinetti focused first on the vintage: “1999 was a wonderful ending of a terrible century.” His catalog of the terrors of the first half of the 20th century held nothing back, but his enthusiasm for the liberation and rebuilding of Italy was just as moving. The three virtues he enumerated from the postwar period were trust, solidarity and courage.

In describing his long-lived Barolo (95 points, $120), Farinetti wanted to connect the wine to those larger virtues: “I should tell you about the elegant dark red color. I should tell you that the bouquet is mineral, with light and smoky wood notes. I should tell you about vanilla, about menthol, about the fresh licorice. But I prefer to conclude telling you that this is the color of the courage, this is the bouquet of the trust and this is the flower of the solidarity.”

More NY Wine Experience 2019

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