Si tibi serotina noceat potatio, vina hora matutina rebibas
My name is Burton Anderson. You may have heard of me if you’re a fan of Italian wine and over sixty. My first book, Vino, the Wines and Winemakers of Italy, published in 1980, was considered a pioneering work, an introduction to the vast and varied world of Italian wine. I followed that in 1982 with the Pocket Guide to Italian Wine, the first of a series of titles in various formats and languages that illuminated the basics of Italian wine for more than two decades.
My most ambitious work, the Wine Atlas of Italy, published in 1990, was an attempt to put Italian wine on the map. To say it succeeded would be only partly true, because it needed to be perfected over time and the publisher decided a lone edition would do. That was neither the first or the last of my run-ins with publishers. I’ve written many books and articles since, including Treasures of the Italian Table, which won the James Beard Award for Writing on Food, in 1995, Burton Anderson’s Best Italian Wines, a personal selection, in 1981, and a novel, Boccadoro, in 2009.
Recently I decided the time had come to sum up my experiences of some sixty years with Italian wine. It’s called Vino II, The Renaissance of Italian Wine, because what has come to be known as the modern renaissance coincides with my experience as a writer.
In my long career as a writer I’ve often found myself stubbornly advocating underdogs. The prime example came with my book Vino, published in 1980, in which the underdog was nothing less than Italian wine itself. At that time, with rare exceptions, vino Italiano was not much admired around the world for quality.
Bits and pieces that lean toward the lighthearted, the bizarre and the controversial, noting my aversion to so-called wine influencers, spinners of hype and self-aggrandizing raters and tasters who favor the 100-point system and express themselves in what I call winespeak. Subject matter may occasionally stray beyond wine.
The ancient Greeks began settling in parts of southern Italy in the Seventh Century AD in a territory known as Magna Grecia. An Italic tribe called the Œnotrians cultivated vines there so prominently that the territory was described as Enotria, a nickname that over time came to apply aptly to a country where vines thrived everywhere. This space will be dedicated to articles, interviews, tasting notes and more from all over Enotria, the Land of Wine.
Italy has scores of native grape varieties that
are underrated or little known or have recently reemerged from obscurity, but
in all cases are worthy and in more than a few cases capable of making wines of
excellence. We’ll single out wines and grape varieties that are now esteemed,
but were once considered underdogs—or long-shots or dark horses or outsiders or
sleepers or hopeless also-rans—and discuss their revivals.
The cooking of Italy is as vast and varied as its wines, so this will
cover a select range of subjects that reflect my tastes. That may take in a
recipe or two, a review of an eatery, a personal experience, a talk with a cook
or an evaluation of the handiwork of what I call an artisan of taste.
Vino II covers the span of the modern
renaissance in Italian wine as observed by an astute but often skeptical and
irreverent outsider narrated via a dialogue between the author and his alter
ego. It’s an informative and entertaining account and a no-holds-barred
critique—one man’s view of the modern era.