The grape, that tiny sphere of sun-sweetened fruit, is a great storyteller of nations. Nowhere is its narrative more compelling than Italy, a country whose people, history, and culture has been grafted to the vine since the first stirrings of civilization.
Italy’s grape biodiversity and genetic patrimony is unmatched. Spanning the 45th to the 38th parallels, the elongated peninsula occupies a position of prime agricultural potential. The ancients saw it as a giant nursery conveniently located on Mediterranean trade routes and referred to it as enotria, or “land of wine.” Because they propagated by seed, not stem cutting, isolated pockets were soon populated by new grapes.
Italy today counts 350 commercially cultivated varieties and 3,000 indigenous grapes still waiting to be catalogued. Latin author Pliny the Elder once remarked that Italy has more kinds of wine grapes than there are grains of sand on a beach.
True magic lies in the fact that Italian wine is so closely connected to the country’s culture. Whether you indulge in a particularly delicious regional dish, visit a romantic hilltop vista or join in a spontaneous trattoria-sing along, wine is always a part of the experience.
Wine Enthusiast’s Italian coverage aspires to more than wine critique. Our mission is to transmit Italy’s creativity, enviable lifestyle, passionate people and physical beauty through the narrative of the grape. This special edition represents our most ambitious effort yet in achieving this goal: It is our biography of the berry that defines a nation we adore.
The Italy issue of Wine Enthusiast is the first in a series of upcoming publications on the world’s most important wine regions. However, the fact we started with this remarkable country is by no means coincidental.
We are firmly committed to the idea that Italian wine is entering a Golden Age. Its impressive momentum is driven by the immediate emotional connection vino italiano makes with consumers many thousands of miles away. Sure, other countries boast more coherent or mainstream wine styles. But Italian wine radiates personality, and this is by far its biggest competitive advantage.
This special issue is dedicated to the Italian wine community that trusts us to review thousands of wines each year and that has so graciously showed us its vineyards and cellars. We are extremely proud to be the only American wine publication with a bureau and a full-time correspondent in Italy. Special thanks goes to the 130 producers of the Comitato Grandi Cru d’Italia for providing most of the delicious recipes you will find in these pages. Most of all, we wish you happy reading.
Un sincero grazie a tutti voi,
Adam Strum, Editor & Publisher