Alessandro Masnaghetti has revolutionized the study of Piedmont’s most famous wines with his extraordinarily detailed books, mapping the crus, or MGAs (Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive), of Barolo and Barbaresco. Now, with Barolo MGA, Volume II, he’s delved even deeper into Barolo, tracing the zone’s origins and development. For readers interested in weather patterns, Masnaghetti has included detailed maps and data on harvest dates over the last decade, as well as a month-by-month accounting of annual rainfall averages going back to 2000. The historically inclined will appreciate the two stand-alone folded maps—one showing the Barolo crus as they existed in 1970 and the other showing the present-day MGAs, as well as the reproductions of some key documents related to the creation and modification of the Barolo zone. One of those documents is Guida Vinicola Per La Provincia di Cuneo (Wine Guide for Cuneo Province), from 1903, which profiles each wine-producing township in the province and includes everyday details like the names of the principal producers, coopers and even hoteliers, carters and drivers. This is a book for oenophiles who fetishize Barolo in the way that avid baseball fans scrutinize statistics like weighted on-base averages or strikeout-to-walk ratios. If you’re not quite in that category, or your interests lie more in the geology of the vineyards, you might prefer Barolo MGA, Volume I. It offers a wealth of information on the MGAs of each Barolo commune and the producers who work them; the revised and expanded second edition is due out this winter. The text of both volumes is in Italian and English, and you can purchase signed copies for $90 each at rarewineco.com. — Stephanie Johnson
Barolo MGA, Volumes I and II by Alessandro Masnaghetti, Enogea, Italy, 2018; $90 each
Stories From Porto
As a traveler trying to get a handle on Portuguese cuisine, you might make the Mercado de Bolhão in Porto your first stop. Since 1839, the vast market has drawn farmers and cooks from all over Portugal to sell their wares, toting with them the foods and stories that connect marketgoers to Portugal’s past. In this book, Gabriella Opaz, an American living in Portugal, and Sonia Andresson, a Portuguese living in the US, raced against the clock to document the people and foods found in its storefronts, collecting stories and recipes before the market closed for renovations in 2017. While the city has opened a temporary market during the two-year renovation period, this book may be the closest you’ll ever get to experiencing the original. Through gorgeous photography and conversations with a vast array of characters, from sellers who’ve been working their stands since the age of three to the butchers who sate hungry shoppers with sandwiches stuffed with leitão (roast suckling pig), the spirit of an entire country comes through clearly. — tqthomas
Porto: Stories from Portugal’s Historic Bolhão Market by Gabriella Opaz and Sonia Andresson Nolasco; Surrey Books, 2018; $30
The Way of Whisky is more than a primer on Japan’s many bottlings; it’s an exploration of the culture and craftsmanship that birthed Japan’s whisky industry. Author Dave Broom, a whisky authority, traveled the country from north to south, observing the links between whisky and Japanese ideals of seasonality and mindfulness that contribute to its drinks; in the book, he details nine distilleries, from production practices to tasting notes on current bottlings, peppering in stories on papermaking, ceramics, glass and other crafts that are integral to the local whisky culture. Kohei Take brings it all together with his rustic and beautiful photography, culminating in a book that reminds us of the power of drink to illuminate place and culture. — rdelrocco
The Way of Whisky by Dave Broom; Mitchell Beazley, 2017; $50
This story appears in the print issue of December 2018.
Like what you read? Subscribe today.