14 Apr Gabriel
“When a baby is born in the Cinque Terre, a case of Sciacchetrà wine is set aside.
When I was seven I used to help my grandfather Bramante bottle his wine. When I was eleven I helped my mother in the tavern. I was a dancer, I gave up going to the academy in Amsterdam to manage the tavern when I was 19.
My grandpa Bramante was born in 1900. At 18 he embarked for World War I, but two months later it ended. That’s when he opened a salted anchovy business.
He had partners and three boats. But before World War II, competition from Spanish anchovies was stiff and they were priced out of the market. My grandfather’s partners bailed and he went out of business. That’s when he decided to open this place. He set aside a case of Sciacchetrà, I still have it. It’s so old that only one still has a label and Sciacchetrà is spelled with just one C instead of two. They all told him, ‘You’ll fail again’. That was in 1958 and he died here in 1992. We are now the third generation running this place, but my mother still helps us. My sister works the morning shift and I take care of the afternoon shift. It’s a simple division. We like simple things.
My father was Sudanese, my parents met in Genoa while they were studying at the university there. Then we all moved to Sudan. When I was 3 my mom decided to move back to Italy with me and my little sister, my father stayed in Sudan. That was the last time I saw him, 7 years later we received news of his death during the Sudanese civil war.
When I turned 40 I opened 3 bottles from the Sciacchetrà case.
The first was undrinkable, I got so sick after tasting it that I nearly missed a flight leaving from Milan the next day. The second bottle was so-so, but the third bottle was amazing. It’s just like that in life, three people who are born and raised at the same time and place end up being such different people. I can’t tell you whether it’s good or bad, just different. There’s no recipe, we have to admit that in life a certain number of things depend entirely on fate. According to my grandfather, the term Sciacchetrà comes from two words in dialect: Sciacca and Trà, crush and take away.”