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Cover for Native Wine Grapes of Italy

Native Wine Grapes of Italy

Ian D'Agata


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Mountainous terrain, volcanic soils, innumerable microclimates, and an ancient culture of winemaking influenced by Greeks, Phoenicians, and Romans make Italy the most diverse country in the world of wine. This diversity is reflected in the fact that Italy grows the largest number of native wine grapes known, amounting to more than a quarter of the world’s commercial wine grape types. Ian D’Agata spent thirteen years interviewing producers, walking vineyards, studying available research, and tasting wines to create this authoritative guide to Italy’s native grapes and their wines. Writing with great enthusiasm and deep knowledge, D’Agata discusses more than five hundred different native Italian grape varieties, from Aglianico to Zibibbo.

D’Agata provides details about how wine grapes are identified and classified, what clones are available, which soils are ideal, and what genetic evidence tells us about a variety’s parentage. He gives historical and anecdotal accounts of each grape variety and describes the characteristics of wines made from the grape. A regional list of varieties and a list of the best producers provide additional guidance. Comprehensive, thoroughly researched, and engaging, this book is the perfect companion for anyone who wants to know more about the vast enological treasures cultivated in Italy.

Praise For Native Wine Grapes of Italy

"Native Wine Grapes of Italy is a painstakenly researched and represents a significant contribution to the world of Italian grapes and wines."
— Wine Spectator

"This blend of personal recollection and definitive scholarship is an essential reference." - Best Wine Books of 2014
— Eric Asimov,

"In his fine new book Native Wine Grapes of Italy, Ian D’Agata describes 500 varieties, even if many of them are too obscure to feature on shelves and wine lists."
— Jancis Robinson,

"Every wine professional and wine consumer with a serious interest in Italian wine will come to count on the book as an indispensable work of reference for many years to come."
— Decanter

"Detailed, interesting and original . . . recommend[ed] to anyone interested in Italian wines or the topic of native wine grapes generally. It is a seriously fascinating read."
— Wine Economist

"Hours of pleasure for those who are tired of drinking only chardonnay and merlot."
— Miami Herald

"Wine writers will tell you that they reach for two kinds of books: those for serious research and those for curling up in a favorite chair. When a book inhabits both categories, it is a rare and delightful tome indeed."
— Boston Globe

"'Definitive' is the term that comes to mind for this book. It is rare to find a book that seems to cover its subject so thoroughly that it banishes the thought of needing any further resource on the matter, but Native Wine Grapes of Italy by Ian D’Agata is such a book."
— Italian Wine Central

"Oh so fascinating. The only thing to do is plunge in."
— Los Angeles Times

"D'Agata didn't just write this book, he lived it, and it's clear that he takes personal responsibility for the fate of Italy's native grape varieties. The frustration, tenderness, and romance that infuse both anecdotes and technical passages alike make this book an unexpected page-turner."
— World of Fine Wine

"Italian wine lovers might look for information about certain grapes or simply leaf through this monograph, amused . . . by some of the facts Mr. D'Agata uncovered. Who knew, for example, that Grillo, the white grape of Sicily, is also the word for cricket in Italian? Or that the Pecorino grape was named after sheepherders? (Pecorino is, of course, more famously a cheese made from sheep's milk.)"
— Wall Street Journal

"An authoritative guide to Italy's native grapes and the wines produced from them."
— Santé

"D'Agata has done superb scholarship on grapes both minor and major. . . . Serious lovers of Italianate wines need this book."
— Jon Bonné,

"A book for any ardent lover of Italian wine to keep handy. . . . His friendly, open voice and appealing combination of humility and pride are just right for his complex subject."
— Art of Eating

"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 humor, charm, and wit across all 600+ pages."
— Good Food Revoution

"Intended for fans of Italian wine who want to learn more about all the native grape varieties, region by region. . . . An excellent reference tool for those interested in viticulture who would like to go beyond the science of tasting."

— Vins & Vignobles

"Italophiles will want this reference book on their shelves."
— Wine Wisdom

"This is a vast treasure trove of fine wine cultivars that are relatively unknown but very unlikely to remain so."

"There's little anyone could possibly want to find out about Italian viticulture and viniculture that isn't here. It is a magnum opus of daunting authority."
— Virtual Gourmet

"Superbly written, and very detailed . . . .Comprehensive and richly informative. His writing is excellent: his prose is flowing and easy-to-read."


University of California Press, 9780520272262, 640pp.

Publication Date: May 16, 2014

About the Author

Ian D’Agata is a Rome-based wine writer and educator who writes regularly for Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar newsletter and for Decanter magazine. He is the Scientific Advisor of Vinitaly International and is now also Scientific Director of the Vinitaly International  Academy, and is the author of The Ecco Guide to the Best Wines of Italy.