Native Italians - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Native Italians

Friends and acquaintances traveling to Italy often ask me to recommend wine regions and producers to visit. I may just start recommending Joe Campanale’s new book. It is a true insider’s guide to all twenty of Italy’s wine regions, each section including a succinct introduction about what makes that region unique, an overview of its key grape varieties, and brief profiles of “Winemakers to Know”—and Campanale really does know them, having encountered the producers during dozens of visits to Italy.

He sets the context for his choices by introducing the Vino Vero Venn diagram (VVV), a construct he developed over a career in which he started as a junior sommelier at Babbo, became business partners in several NYC restaurants, and eventually opened his own place, Fausto, in Brooklyn. Campanale describes his diagram as an alternative system to Italy’s complex and often convoluted DOC/DOCG system of classification, and claims that it is a guide to “real wines,” or wines that embody “terroir.”

Under VVV’s straightforward criteria, Campanale focuses on wines that are made from native grapes in exceptional terroir by artisan winemakers. Vino is not a comprehensive tome listing every variety, wine type and producer, leaving you to separate the wheat from the chaff. Instead, Campanale cuts straight to the chase, profiling a handful or two of the most compelling producers from each region and adding a longer list of other exceptional producers for further exploration—a roadmap leading to interesting and delicious wines from some of Italy’s greatest artisan winemakers.

Vino: The Essential Guide to Real Italian Wine, by Joe Campanale with Joshua David Stein; Clarkson Potter (2022), 320 pages, $35

is the Italian wine editor at Wine & Spirits magazine.

This story appears in the print issue of Summer 2022.
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