Drones have come to be viewed as annoying and intrusive by some, perhaps even threatening, but Alessandro Masnaghetti has found a positive use for drones that is sure to thrill Barolo lovers.
Masnaghetti’s name will be familiar to wine fans as the mapper extraordinaire of many Italian wine regions. He founded the Italian wine newsletter Enogea in 1997 and began creating detailed vineyard maps to help his readers learn about the wines of regions like Barolo and Barbaresco. His work on those regions became expansive enough to fill three volumes that have become the Bible for nebbiolo enthusiasts: Barolo MGA Vol. I and Vol. II, and Barbaresco MGA. (Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive are roughly equivalent to the French cru, although MGAs designate geographical borders only, not quality).
Masnaghetti eventually developed three-dimensional wall maps and interactive apps to give readers a deeper understanding of wine regions. Yet, as he writes in the introduction to BaroloMGA360°, “however accurate it may be, a digital replica of one or more hills does not convey the same intimacy and detail as the real image. For this reason, after some attempts with traditional photography, I decided to focus on the use of the drone.”
Diving into BaroloMGA360° is a bit like riding on a drone, flying above the Langhe hills while wearing glasses that superimpose the names and borders of each MGA, as well as the names of some producers who own plots within them. The controls allow you to zoom in and out or rotate the view, while the labels all stay fixed to provide context. Masnaghetti offers loads of explanatory text along the way, much of it from his Barolo MGA volumes but some of it new, like the lists of recommended wines that exemplify the style of particular MGAs.
BaroloMGA360° is published in Italian and English, with translation by American wine writer Burton Anderson. Subscriptions run at about $23 per month or $58 per year, but some of the features are publicly available and clearly marked with a “Free” icon. Check out Villero to see how the site works for a small MGA, and Bussia for a much larger one.
Nothing beats a real trip to Barolo, but this is the next best thing until we can all travel again. When you do finally get to go, the time spent on this site will make you feel like an old pro, even on your first visit.
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