NATIVE WINE GRAPES OF ITALY (University of California Press, 2014, 621 pages, ISBN 978-0-520-27226-2, $50 US hard covers) is by Ian D'Agata, a Rome-based wine writer (International Wine Cellar, Decanter, Figaro) who has also written The Ecco Guide to the Best Wines of Italy. It is a comprehensive guide to the more than 500 indigenous or autochthonous grapes of Italy. The country grows the largest number of native wines grapes known – almost a quarter of the world's commercial wine grape types. And here they all are, from the red Abbuoto in Lazio to the white Zirone Bianco from Sardinia. D'Agata spent 13 years interviewing and researching, plus tasting wines. He's got material on classifications, clones, soils, genetic evidence, history and local stories about each grape. The first fifty pages covers the primer of varieties in general. This is followed by three sections: grape groups and families; major varieties; little-known varieties; and crossings. To tie it all together, there is an index plus a grape variety index. The appendix lists tables of planting distributions, a glossary, and an extensive bibliography. Each grape entry tells where it is found, a national registry code, a colour, the descriptions, and a note on which wines to try and why. This book is going to snap up a few awards.
Audience and level of use: Italian wine lovers, reference libraries.
Some interesting or unusual facts: "This book does not discuss obvious international varieties such as Pinot Nero or Gewurztraminer, but it does tackle varieties that have been traditional to specific parts of Italy for hundreds of years and are integral to wines considered archetypal of a region's production." Quality/Price Rating: 93.