At a recent lunch a customer said to me, “I love Italian wine but I want to know more, what can I do?”. The answer is simple: read, read, taste, visit (if you can), taste, read and read some more.
Understanding Italian wine requires effort, but its rewards are great. Make an effort to hunt down a bottle of a grape less known and make an effort to get to a tasting (cheaper than buying every bottle yourself). Nothing beats visiting a wine region for all that information to really sink in and to better understand the nuances of a particular region or zone.
But most importantly, you have to read. Some people collect stamps, I collect Italian wine books – and I never lend them out by the way! Although you don’t have to go that far, there are some great new books and publications on Italian wine.
All of the below are best enjoyed with a glass of wine.
Vino Italiano by Joe Bastianich and David Lynch (disclaimer, we import Joe’s wine to Australia). Published in 2002, its still just as relevant today. If you only buy one book to learn about Italian wine, buy this.
Native Wine Grapes of Italy by Ian d’Agata. Ian is one of the foremost experts on Italian wine and has put his life’s work into an A to Z of Italy’s native grapes. Recently released, this digs deeper than just the grape, detailing clones, soils, history, characteristics and best examples. I simply love this book, bravo Ian
Brunello di Montalcino by Kerin O’Keefe is the definitive book on one of Italy’ most famous wines. Kerin details the history of the region and profiles her best wineries. The book was groundbreaking for its analysis on the regions zones, something that is little understood in the professional wine trade let alone for the Italian wine enthusiast.
ON THE WEB
A new web site, www.italianwinecentral.com has an enormous amount of information on regions, wines and denominations with substantial statistical information. Even better, no subscription required.
Walter Speller writes for www.jancisrobinson.com (subscription required). Based in Italy, Walter writes in-depth articles with tasting notes from his tastings around Italy. These often feature the sorts of wines and regions that are not the usual suspects.
Vinous Media, www.vinousmedia.com (subscription required) is the work of Antonio Galloni, probably the most influential critic writing on Italian wines today. Antonio covers the main regions – Piedmont and Tuscany are the specialty areas – with an annual review that includes tastings at all the leading wineries, and then some. The website includes an ‘Italian wine geek’ forum that I find particularly useful for keeping up to date with news on Italian wine from around the world.
www.slowwinemagazine.com I highly recommend this new online publication from Slow Food, and its reasonably priced for the quality of information. Main features are long format articles on regions and wineries, including vertical tastings.
ITALIAN WINE MAPS by Alessandro Masnaghetti
Originally trained as a nuclear engineer, Alessandro worked with the revered Luigi Veronelli, writing about food and wine, before completing his first map, of Barbaresco, in 1994. Since then, he has mapped the other villages/zones in Barbaresco and Barolo, along with those in Valpolicella and Chianti Classico, to name a few.
In undertaking such a herculean task, Barolo for example has 170 cru vineyards, Alessandro spends months visiting every winery in the region and walking through their vineyards. The maps are incredibly detailed, offering an unprecedented view of each cru and come in a folded format printed on both sides. The front is a colour map of the region and its crus and the back contains descriptions of the most important vineyards.
Trembath & Taylor are proud to be the sole Australian distributor and the maps will be available from September. Please contact me for pricing and availability.