Explore more – books, websites, wine merchants

This is a selective list of books and other resources (including UK wine merchants) which focuses on Italian wines. In line with the rest of this website its main point of focus are Tuscany and within that the Maremma. Happy exploring! The most highly recommended books are in this tasteful orange colour.

Books in English on Tuscan and Italian wines

Ian d’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy, University of California Press, 2014 – simply the best book ever written about Italian wine.  D’Agata combines enormous erudition with 30 years of personal experience of the Italian wine scene, enthusiasm and the occasional joke.  Detailed, you can skip the science bits if they are not to your taste.   

Hugh Johnson, Tuscany and its wines, Mitchell Beazley, 2000 – a beautifully illustrated book with photos by Andy Katz, the writing is evocative if quite broad brush; text already a bit dated

Nicholas Belfrage, Brunello to Zibibbo, The wines of Tuscany, Central and Southern Italy, Faber 2001, now published by Mitchell Beazley – while also beginning to show its age, with its companion volume on the south, this is still the best general account of the Italian wine scene.  Now to be complemented by:

Nicholas Belfrage, The Finest Wines of Tuscany and Central Italy.  A regional and village guide to the best wines and their producers, Fine Wine Editions, Aurum Press, London, 2009 – excellent account of the top tier of Tuscan wine making and photo portraits of key people by Jon Wyand.  See my review

Monty Waldin, Tuscany, How to find great wines off the beaten track, Mitchell Beazley, 2006 – Invaluable practical guide to the vineyards to visit, though with rather vague directions. Very passionate about local grape varieties. Earlier edition by Maureen Ashley is also still worth having.

Danielle Cernilli & Marco Sabellico, The New Italy, a complete guide to contemporary Italian wine, Mitchell Beazley, 2000 – an informative and well-illustrated book which gives an overview of all the Italian regions

Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch, Vino Italiano, the regional wines of Italy, Clarkson Potter, New York, updated edition 2005

Kerin O’Keefe, Brunello di Montalcino, understanding and appreciating one of Italy’s greatest wines, University of California Press, 2012 – O’Keefe follows up her biography of Brunello’s founder Biondi-Santi with a rich, informed and opinionated review of the current state of Brunello. Helpfully summarises the results of Edoardo Costantini’s soil mapping exercise for English readers and sets out a zoning proposal to try to separate zones for classic wines from others exploiting the lucrative name of Brunello. See my review here.  See also her book on Barolo and Barbaresco.  

Tom Hyland, Beyond Barolo and Brunello, Italy’s most distinctive wines, 2012 – Chicago-based journalist, photographer and blogger at Reflections on wine and Learn Italian wine makes into book form of his own making; a knowledgeable paragraph on each of his chosen Italian wines.

Bill Nesto MW and Frances di Savino, The World of Sicilian Wine, University of California Press, 2013 – excellent, detailed treatment about the history and contemporary state of Sicilian wine. See my review here.  

The annual wine guides

Gambero Rosso: Vini d’Italia (also in English: Italian Wines); available as an iPhone app – famous guide covering 16,000 wines of which around 300 are given tre bicchieri (three glasses), top award for the best wines; they also publish L’almanacco del berebene, which reviews or lists nearly 5,000 wines under 8 euro.

L’espresso: I vini d’Italia – very well established guide with a ‘five bottle’ marking system and a slightly eccentric approach to alphabetisation of winery names (use the index!)

Duemillavini: il libro guida ai vini d’Italia, Associazione Italiana Sommelier

I vini di Veronelli, Gigi Brozzoni and Daniel Thomases

Annuario dei migliori vini d’Italia, Luca Maroni

Wine magazines in Italian

Most the annual guides also publish a magazine to which you can add:

Sadly now defunct: Il mio vino, monthly, very informative, slightly campaigning in style, very strong on Italy and splendidly hardly mentions the rest of the world. My choice from the 4-5 Italian wine magazines, mostly related to the annual guides. Now available very reasonably in electronic form.

SpiritodiVino, every two months, large and glossy, rather more international in scope

Books in Italian

Andrea Cacci, Paola Rendini, Andrea Zifferero (editors), Archeologia della vite e del vino in Toscana e nel Lazio. Dalle techiche dell’indagine archeologica alle prospettive della biologia molecolare, Edizioni all’Insegna del Giglio, Borgo San Lorenzo (FI), 2012

Antonio Calo’ and others, Il vino. Scelta, acquisto, conservazione e degustazione, Manuale del Sommelier, Milano, 1999 – a basic introduction to wine with an Italian twist, well illustrated, good for learning the wine vocabulary!

Daniele Cernilli, Memorie di un assaggiatore di vini, Einaudi, 2006 – a top wine journalist with Gambero Rosso (see above) reflects on a life in wine journalism. Great account of discovering the then unknown wines of Montalcino on an excursion in 1979, and much more. See his book above on the new Italy.

Zeffiro Ciuffoletti & Paolo Nanni (editors), Un vino di Maremma. Il Morellino di Scansano, Editrice Laurum, Pitgliano, 2002 – illustrated treasure trove of essays on the history and social history of wine in the Maremma, the local grapes, even the health benefits. Particularly good on the run through the Etruscan and Roman periods, and medieval to modern

Zeffiro Ciuffoletti (editor), Storia del vino in Toscana, Firenze, 2000 – mammoth volume of essays very loosely on the theme of the history of wine in Tuscany. Strong on wine in literature, the arts, architecture (eg excellent chapter on the new ‘cathedrals’ of wine), curiously selective on the actual history of wine production.  Remarkable photo essays at the end, comprising an historic photo collection and a great set of aerial photos of Tuscan landscapes and wineries specially commissioned for this volume.

Giudo Fiorini and Claudia Della Monaca, Maremma Wine Shire – i nuovi protagonista della Toscana, Camera di Commercio Grosseto, Italy, 2010 – commendable initiative by Grosseto Chamber of Commerce to put the Maremma on the wine map, along with a wine fair held in the Maremma and to be repeated in Milan.  The book contains a rather basic introduction to the area and a very useful listing of wineries, each featuring one key wine.

Lorenzo Carresi, Giuseppe Orfino, Marco Tisi, Vini di Maremma.  Selezione di qualita’ 30 vini e 30 produttori, Casa Editrice Arca, Grosseto, 2010 – London bus syndrome: you wait for ever for a book on Maremman wines to come along and then two come arrive at the same time. But this one is more selective and is an independently written guide.

Giovanni Bietti, Vini naturali d’Italia.  Manuale del bere sano, volume 1: Italia centrale, Edizioni Estemporanee, Roma, 2010 – excellent guide to Italian ‘natural wines’ with a particularly helpful introduction setting out his position on a controversial topic.

Walter Gasperini, Storia di un territorio Doc Val di Cornia, Europolis Editing, Cecina, 2011 – valuable collection of essays on the Val di Cornia in Italian and then winery profiles in Italian, English and German

Wine reference works

Joanna Simon, Discovering Wine, Mitchell Beazley, 1994 – very good introduction to tasting and to the characteristics of grape varieties, eg on Sangiovese: bitter cherry, spices, herbs, tobacco

Oz Clarke & Margaret Rand, Grapes and Wines, Time Warner Books, 2015 – brilliant, more advanced account of grape varieties around the world, very good source of information bundled with an attractively personal and exotic approach to wine writing. Will continue to be useful despite the appearance of the ‘three Js’ – see Jancis, Julia and José below

Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding (editors), The Oxford Companion to Wine, 4th edition 2015 – an excellent reference work compiled by the top English wine writer of her generation and a very knowledgeable team. See also her website for her mountain of tasting notes and articles (www.jancisrobinson.com; subscription)

Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, The World Atlas of Wine, Mitchell Beazley, 7th edition, 2013 – simply indispensable maps and outstanding summaries of the viticultural regions of the world. Quite regularly has better climate/ topographical / soil information than the Oxford Companion.

Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, José Vouillamoz, Wine Grapes. A complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavours, Penguin Books, 2012 – awesomely comprehensive work which brings us right up-to-date on the current state of DNA testing which is beginning to sort out the relationships between the 1000+ varieties in commercial production. Also contains very good summaries of the viticultural characteristics of the above mentioned host of varieties, where they are grown and, most importantly to most of us, what they taste like. The highest praise I can give this book is that it is permanently on my desk.

 

Some websites

www.lastradadelvino.com = wine road for the Tuscan coast, ie Bolgheri, Val di Cornia, Montescudaio

www.stradovino.it = excellent maps and info on the Montereggio di Massa Marittima DOC wine road (and now takes in local food specialities too)

www.iwronline.blogspot.com = Kyle Phillips’ Italian Wine Review, American based in Strada in Chianti until his death in 2012; also http://italianwinereview.blogspot.co.uk/

www.winecountry.it

See also the blog list on the blog page

 

Italian and Maremman wine in the UK

The Wine Society – always has a decent selection of Italian wines from the more important regions, plus occasional in-depth offers mainly from Piedmont and Tuscany. From the Maremma they currently have Sassotondo’s Ciliegiolo and Podere 414’s Morellino.

Decanter magazine’s Fine Wine Encounter (two day public tasting in November) always has good Italian representation and the occasional Tuscan master class.  Now complemented by the Italian Fine Wine Encounter held in May 2008, 2010 and 2012 – it seems to have a fatal attraction to FA Cup final day.

Terroirs, busy and excellent ‘natural’ wine and food bar off Trafalgar Square, stocks off-the-beaten-track wines, including Massa Vecchia’s extraordinary offerings, commented on here on the Massa page.  Supplied by the outstanding Les Caves de Pyrene (shop near Guildford and mail order).

Bocca di lupo – excellent, central London, Italian restaurant/bar with very good selection of wines, some by the glass 

Vini Italiani – wide range of Italian wines in a dedicated shop in a very expensive Kensington location

Negozio Classica – very good Italian enoteca (shop/bar + food) quite near Notting Hill Gate tube station at 283 Westbourne Grove, London.

Lea and Sandeman – outstanding independent group of four wine shops based in and around London. They may only stock 100 Italian wines but they are all worth trying.

Liberty Wines, wholesaler based in London but widely distributed in both restaurants and specialist wine shops. Strong list masterminded by Italophile, David Gleave MW.

 

Wine tours

Arblaster and Clarke – outstanding tours of wine regions in France, Italy and around the world with excellent access to many top wineries.

My wife Janet and I run bespoke private tours: email me from the link at the bottom of the page

Page updated July 2016

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