Like a lot of people these days, Piero Incisa della Rocchetta has a tattoo. It's modest, as tattoos goa line drawing of a bee, on his right foot. But unlike a lot of people's tattoos, that bee is modeled on a drawing done by Michelangelo for the coat of arms of one of Piero's ancestors.
I noticed Piero's tattoo in the kitchen of his modest house in Patagonia, Argentina (he was wearing sandals), while he was shaving bottarga (cured mullet roe) over a cutting board and telling me about Bodega Chacra, the winery he founded here in 2004. Piero lives in Patagonia five months out of the year; the rest of the time he's either in New York or at his family's estate in the Bolgheri region of Tuscany. That estate, Tenuta San Guido, produces one of Italy's greatest red wines, Sassicaia. Created by Piero's grandfather Mario and made famous by his uncle Niccolò, Sassicaia was a groundbreaking red. It proved Tuscany could produce world-class Cabernet Sauvignon; it also proved that a Tuscan red could garner the same level of sustained international respect as the great first-growths of Bordeaux.
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In Patagonia, on the other hand, Piero's ambitions are focused on making world-class Pinot Noir. At least when he's not trying to avoid slicing off his fingertipsthe chunk of mullet roe had shrunk to a nub, and his grater was very sharp. The bottarga was for a platter of spaghetti with almond bread crumbs. Earlier, he'd prepared grapefruit segments and avocado slices for a crabmeat salad. Outside in the yard, local chef Mauricio Couly was baking spinach-and-green-pea empanadas in a big clay oven.