Diary of a wine writer 2: choices

As I explained in my last blog post, I have now completed my wine studies and have decided I would like to write a book. But what is the subject going to be? 

Readers of this website will know that I have devoted much of the last decade to the wines of Italy. But that is not much help as there are 20 regions in Italy and the great majority of them would merit a full-scale book. From my reading, I know that some regions have recently been written about – SicilyMontalcino, Chianti Classico and Amarone/ Valpolicella. (The hyperlinks here are my reviews of these two valuable books.) But the field is still wide open.  

My wife Janet and I debated the merits of three subjects: 

1. Tuscany 

Although two of the above books are about Tuscan appellations, they still leave a vast amount of Tuscany uncovered. I would love to write about the Sangiovese wines of Chianti Rufina and Montepulciano or Sangiovese and much more in the Tuscan Maremma. And it would be churlish not to cover the Bordeaux blends of Bolgheri and the Syrah of Cortona. Another option would be a book on Sangiovese in central Italy and thereby include Romagna and the Marche alongside Tuscany. Choices, choices … 

2. Piemonte

There are of course books about Barolo and Barbaresco, especially Kerin O’Keefe book of 2014 and a little known book by Tom Hyland (2016) which appears to be the only book on the full range of the region’s wines. Piemonte has a real appeal: Barolo and Barbaresco are among the world’s greatest wines and then there is a wonderful range of other wines. These include Nebbiolo wines from the rest of Piemonte, the rise and rise of Barbera as a quality variety, Dolcetto, the little known local reds (mostly relatives of Nebbiolo), the whites (Gavi, Roero) and both tank-method sparkling Moscato and traditional-method sparkling wines. 

3. Campania and Basilicata

It is a sad fact that the further south of Tuscany you go, the less frequently that the wines are written about. Abruzzo and Molise need a champion, Puglia and Calabria have so much to offer. Slightly better known are the top whites of Campania (Fiano, Greco, Falanghina) and the majestic red wines made from Aglianico in Taurasi, Campania, and in Vulture, Basilicata.  

How to decide? Tuscany might have started as the front runner but Piemonte won the day. Janet was keen on the sense of a new start. Yes, I might have more depth of knowledge of parts of Tuscany but Piemonte should bring more energy, more excitement, with it. Then, there were practical considerations. I have a full-time job in London and so my time for research in the field is limited. Tuscany is vast and the journeys can be tortuous. While you can get from Turin airport to Barolo in an hour and a quarter or from Milan Malpensa to the Alto Piemonte area in less, it can take an hour and a half merely to get across Chianti Classico, nevermind the further-flung sub-regions of Tuscany. The range of wines in Piemonte was also compelling. Perhaps I was also swayed by a great visit very recently to research Asti/Moscato d’Asti supported by the Asti consortium. Campania and Basilicata will have to remain on the ‘to do’ list for now, and so Piemonte it is … 

The subject decided the next hurdle is to see if I can find a publisher.  

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