A Year in the Life of Italy’s Vineyards and Wines
There are already at least four well-established wine guides in Italy. Is there really any need for another? Slow Food believes so. In January 2012 it will launch the first English edition of its own wine guide, Slow Wine, which adopts a new approach to wine criticism and looks beyond what is in the glass.
For 20 years, Slow Food co-published the Italian Wines guide with Gambero Rosso, arguably the most famous and influential wine publication in Italy. The much sought-after “three glasses” awards stimulated producers to aim for maximum quality, hence to change the Italian wine scene and its image abroad. But the Slow Food quality criteria have developed in the meantime; they now embrace more than just sensory virtues and also incorporate ethical and environmental values. The movement’s “good, clean and fair” slogan sums up the concept. A wine cannot be judged by scores, symbols or other numerical evaluations, but needs to be assessed in a broader context. From the outset Slow Wine was conceived to give a realistic snapshot of the current Italian wine landscape. To describe this reality, it is essential to get to know it, to leave tasting rooms and travel the length and breadth of the Italian peninsula. More than 2,000 cellars were visited, thousands of vineyards scaled, hundreds of firsthand interviews conducted and countless questions asked. The guide centers on the agronomical efforts of cellars, describing vines planted, vineyards tended and the philosophy underpinning the work of winemakers.
Slow Wine has thus abandoned the method of judging by scores for a new form of evaluation. In the new guide, three sections describe the cellars in their entirety: Life, the stories of the leading players in the world of winemaking; Vines, profiles of vineyards according to their characteristics and the way they are managed; Wines, straightforward descriptions backed up by comprehensive statistics.
As a key to comprehension of each winery listed, three symbols have been assigned: The Snail, the Slow Food symbol, signals a cellar that has distinguished itself through its interpretation of sensorial, territorial, environmental and personal values in harmony with the Slow Food philosophy; The Bottle, allocated to cellars that show a consistent high quality throughout the range of wines presented for our tastings; The Coin, an indicator of good value for money. Three similar categories are also applied to the wines: Slow Wines, which, besides excellent sensory characteristics, manage to distil the character of their terroir, history and environment in the glass; Great Wines, which possess the absolute sensory quality; Everyday Wines, bottles at the standard price level that present excellent value for money.
“We are convinced that the battle against the homogenization of taste and the standardization of sensory characteristics may only be conducted through knowledge of the land, vineyards and people that combine to form the Italian terroir.”