Native Wine Grapes Of Italy by Ian D’Agata (University Of California Press) 640 pages, $50
Upon dipping into this book for the umpteenth time I found myself thinking “Good God, if only this had been around when I was a young student of wine”.
The sheer volume of exhaustively-researched material here (D’Agata spent some 13 years working on his magnum opus), the Herculean task of compiling such a tome becomes apparent at even a cursory glance. I’m pretty sure that had D’Agata been my guide all those years ago, my scholarly travels throughout Italy’s myriad varietals would have been along much less rocky Enotrian roads than they turned out to be.
As a reference to the identification, classification, physical description, distribution in Italy (and where applicable elsewhere in the world), preferred soil types, clonal availability, recommended producers (by region), and both supposed and actual parentage of Italian grapes, D’Agata’s book knows no equal. He even gives good old Jancis Robinson MW a run for her money with the conciseness and expansiveness of each of his entries.
Don’t expect to find any glossy photographs, nor artists’ renderings of grapes and vines contained within. D’Agata relies upon the richness of his text to hook the reader, and it works.
In my mind, what lifts this particular volume above and beyond is the way in which D’Agata’s editor has chosen to preserve the author’s inherent wry humour, charm, and wit across all 600+ pages. In the hands of so many of his contemporaries such an academic exercise would most likely lead to an extremely dry read. Not so with Native Wine Grapes of Italy. Much to my delight, personal anecdotes abound, giving the book a much different feel to many of its ilk.
Quite simply, D’Agata’s Native Wine Grapes of Italy is a must read for anyone with even a modicum of interest in the wines of Italy.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he thinks that this is going to be a book for the ages.