Vintner impresses audience at Hagerstown Garden Club fundraiser

February 11, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

His family vineyards date back to the 1720s and span five estates. He is a 13th-generation vintner. Wine is in his blood, and when he speaks, Pierluigi Giachi pours forth his passion on the subject.

"It's the protocol of the glass. It is a glass. It is not a boccie ball. It is not an umbrella," Giachi said Sunday evening at a Hagerstown Garden Club wine tasting at Younger Toyota. Giachi spoke rapidly with a thick Italian accent, and indicated that the wine glass should be held with the base between the second and third fingers, not palmed like a ball or double-handed like an umbrella.

Giachi modeled the customary way of smelling wine, plunging his whole nose in the wine glass.

"Press, harder than you like. You need to smell very long and strong, long and strong. Open all the buds of the bouquet," he said.

During the first couple seconds of smelling, he explained, the nose only senses sweet and bitter.


"Do long and strong, then you smell the blackberry, cherry, chestnut, chocolate," he said, then checked in asking, "Can you understand my terrible English?"

Giachi went on to demonstrate tasting the wine, holding his top teeth over his bottom lip, creating a squeaking sound, then swishing the wine around in his mouth for a full 10 seconds.

"Now you really appreciate. You have receptors of taste. You have arrived. It's another planet," Giachi said.

Hagerstown Garden Club President Denise Pennington encountered Giachi on a trip to Tuscany last summer. She and her husband, Bill, visited the vineyards at Tenuta Torciano.

"I was swept away by Pierluigi Giachi. He is truly endearing, charming, precious," she said.

When she asked Giachi to come to Hagerstown to do a wine tasting, she thought it was a long shot. Then Giachi said he would.

"I really didn't believe it and my husband said, 'No way,' but here (Giachi) is! I can't believe it. What a wonderful gift," Pennington said.

The wine tasting was a fundraising event for the garden club's beautification project at the circle at Hagerstown City Park. The group plans to erect an eight-foot fountain surrounded by flowers and a pool.

Flannery's Tavern on the Square of Mercersburg, Pa., catered the event. Owner John Flannery was somewhat star struck by the opportunity to work with Giachi.

"This is amazing to have a guy of this stature in Hagers- town to do this. My executive chef, Jeremy Jones, knows wine, and when he found out Pierluigi would be here, he was ecstatic," Flannery said.

Joe Tischer, 72, of Hagerstown, said the event was "like an awakening or a renaissance."

"I don't mean to sound elitist, but the level of sophistication in Hagerstown, it hasn't been totally aware. To see people of all ages here taking Hagerstown to the next level, that's wow! We're here. Thank you, God," Tischer said.

Event tickets cost $100 per person and more than 130 people attended. Wine tasting co-chairwoman Haven Younger said the Bob Fleigh Foundation donated $15,000 to the fountain project, and an anonymous donor contributed the fountain. The entire project is projected to cost around $70,000. The group is seeking additional grant funding.

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