Fred Nijhuis

Your favorite Dutch wine writer

Franco Biondi-Santi 1922-2013Franco Biondi-Santi 1922-2013

Yesterday I was informed by several of our mutual friends that ‘the Dottore’ passed away.Yesterday I was informed by several of our mutual friends that ‘the Dottore’ passed away.

What can I say? Which words can express what his family, his friends and his staff feel; what I feel?

For the first time this year, the sun was shining abundantly in the Netherlands and we could cherish it’s warm glory all day. A magnificent day till the moment we received the news. And yet, the sun kept sharing it’s power and glory.

This made me realize what Franco meant to me and how he will remain in my memory forever.  His never lasting strength, passion, kindness, energy and warmth.

He will be remembered by many as an important person, a protagonist and living legend, but to me, he was even more. We shared great moments, not just during or because of tasting some amazing wines and not always without difficult personal tragedies. But no matter what or where, we always found a way to make us smile.

I remember his face enjoying some Dutch chocolate or other specialties and the way he was shining when I introduced him to my son Nicky and some of my dear female friends .  I have vivid memories of him performing in Brussels at a fair many years ago, at a magnificent tasting-dinner at The Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam and many other occasions.

Some years ago he asked me to call him Franco and I embraced him and our friendship. In 2006, this friendship was sealed by one of his Maremmano puppies.  Franco let me have one and this puppy, Mara, grew up as one of the most beautiful and lovable dog I ever met with an amazing majestic stature, kind character and strong will. Some time ago, she passed away too, also leaving a void, but (and more important) leaving the most wonderful memories.

Franco Biondi-Santi became one on the most important persons in my life. His vision, his persistence, his energy, his love and life inspired me in many ways.

I will never forget what he meant to his family, the people he worked with, to Montalcino, to Brunello and to me personally.

I wish everyone strength these days and just wanted to express my respect for him and everyone around him. Right now, sadness may cover our feelings, but I’m sure that we be able to smile again soon and feel the pride and joy of being able to live, work en be with him.

May he rest in peace and live forever in the hearts and memories of many. I will never forget him, what he meant to me and what he achieved.  I’m honoured and glad that some of my respect for him will reflect in an upcoming article on myself and wines that mean so much to me.  Of course,  it will feature one of Franco’s wines; telling it’s story, his history and his future…..   

With warmest regards and greatest respect

Fred F.A. Nijhuis

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