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 ; 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 beginning to show its age, with its companion volume 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
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, 2003 – 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
Jancis Robinson (editor), The Oxford Companion to Wine, 3rd edition 2006 – an excellent reference work compiled by the top English wine writer of her generation. See also her website for her mountain of tasting notes and articles (www.jancisrobinson.com; subscription)
The annual wine guides
Gambero Rosso: Vini d’Italia (also in English: Italian Wines) – 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 & Daniel Thomases
Wine magazines in Italian
Il mio vino, monthly, very informative, slightly campaigning in style, very strong on Italy and hardly mentions the rest of the world
Spirito diVino, every two months, large and glossy, rather more international in scope
Books in Italian
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.
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
www.iwronline.blogspot.com = Kyle Phillips’ Italian Wine Review, American based in Strada in Chianti
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 (May 2008 and 2010 – 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 excellent Les Caves de Pyrene (shop near Guildford and mail order).
Negozio Classica – very good Italian enoteca (shop/bar + food) quite near Notting Hill Gate tube station at 283 Westbourne Grove, London.
www.dvino.co.uk UK based Italian wine merchant online
www.g-enoteca.com UK based Italian wine merchant online
Arblaster and Clarke – outstanding tours of wine regions in France, Italy and around the world with excellent access to many top wineries.