cover image Vino: The Essential Guide to Real Italian Wine

Vino: The Essential Guide to Real Italian Wine

Joe Campanale, with Joshua David Stein. Clarkson Potter, $35 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-13614-0

“It’s time to reexamine what Italian wine is now, and, importantly, what it could be,” urges sommelier and restaurateur Campanale in this ambitious debut. He begins by arguing that the hierarchical “pyramid” used to measure the quality of Italian wines (formally known as the Denominazione di Origine Controllata) is riddled with flaws—the main being that, when it was established in 1963, its standards were dictated by industrial winemakers who produced “low-cost bulk wine.” As an alternative to this outdated model, Campanale presents his “Vino Vero Venn diagram,” which focuses on the intersection of three factors for quality wines: the native grapes, exceptional terroir, and artisan winemakers. Inviting readers on a trip through Italy’s 20 wine regions, he explains each qualifier’s significance, while highlighting the geography’s rich cultural history. The fertile slopes of Sicily’s Mount Etna, Campanale points out, are excellent for growing grapes, such as the red variety Nerello Mascalese. A stop in Piedmont, meanwhile, includes a tour through the winery of Barolo producer Chiara Boschis, who’s single-handedly championed “the production of vini veri in the region.” While the intricate terminology and occasional notes of pretension (“with change come[s] arrivistes and carpetbaggers”) can sometimes chafe, Campanale’s meticulous study of an evolving world is nothing short of impressive. Wine aficionados take heed. (Apr.)