Allegrini 2018

“Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2023”: everything you need to know about wine, on one hand

Thousands of companies and denominations were reviewed, with opinions on vintages, in-depth boxes, and appendices. 53 of Italy’s top producers

In a beautiful film by Alejandro González Iñárritu, the weight of the soul was 21 grams. The overall knowledge of the wine world, on the other hand, is a little more, but by eye, it rarely exceeds 200 grams. This heavy is the legendary “Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2023” (for now only in the English version, soon also in Italian), a guide capable of condensing in a few lines, enriched by abbreviations and symbols, essential information on thousands of companies, wines, territories and denominations from all over the world, from France to Italy, from Germany to Spain, from Portugal to Austria, from the USA to South America without forgetting Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and many other minor producers.
A compass capable of guiding millions of enthusiasts (the sales copies, from the first edition, which dates back to 1977, are 12 million), edited by one of the most famous wine writers in the world (with the contribution of a strong network of collaborators, including, for Italy, Ian D’Agata and Michele Longo), certainly one of the most long-lived and “productive”, who every year updates every aspect of his “Pocket Wine Book”, from the best vintages of each territory to the producers of reference, and gradually adding some minor news, such as the illustrated appendix dedicated to the aging and refinement of wine.

However, in the beginning, a brief report on the 2021 vintage, the ten wines to taste in 2023 (including Vulture di Grifalco wines), and a list of the different varieties. In the appendix, the glossary with the technical terms of wine, and before each country, the opinion on the most recent vintages of the most important denominations. For simplicity, the in-depth boxes dedicated to different territories or specific topics are essential. In the session dedicated to Italy, we find seven: “Top Barbaresco by MGA”, “Top Barolo by MGA”, “Best of Brunello”, “Who makes really good Chianti Classico?”, “Summit of Etna”, “Valpolicella: the best” and “What do the initials mean?”.
A milestone, and even more interesting for us, is the evaluation of companies, expressed in stars from one to four, which, remaining in the Italian context, brings 53 companies from almost every corner of the country to the top of the qualitative pyramid. In the Chianti Classico, we find Castello di Ama, Fontodi, Isole and Olena, Montevertine and San Giusto a Rentennano, in the Chianti Rufìna Selvapiana, and still labels such as Solaia and Tignanello of the Antinori family. Staying in Tuscany, outside the top denominations, Tenuta di Trinoro in Val di Chiana and Tua Rita in Val di Cornia. In Montalcino, great Brunello brands such as Biondi-Santi, Case Basse (Soldera), Fuligni, Le Potazzine, Salvioni (La Cerbaiola), Pian dell’Orino and Poggio di Sotto. Moving towards the coast, in Bolgheri, we find Sassicaia - Tenuta San Guido by Niccolò Incisa della Rocchetta, Ca’Marcanda by Angelo Gaja, Le Macchiole and Ornellaia.
In Piedmont, the top companies of Langa, between Barolo and Barbaresco: Gaja, Bruno Giacosa, Aldo Conterno, Giacomo Conterno, Bartolo Mascarello, Vietti, Roagna, Commendatore GB Burlotto, Elvio Cogno, and Poderi Colla, but also the reference point for Moscato d’Asti, Paolo Saracco. In Valpolicella, the Amarone by Tommaso Bussola, Dal Forno, and Quintarelli, while for the white side of Veneto, the two lighthouses of Soave are Pieropan and Graziano Prà, that of Durello is Fongaro. The top of Franciacorta is Ca’ del Bosco, in Val d’Aosta stands out Feudi di San Maurizio, in Trentino Alto Adige Manni Nössing and San Leonardo and in Friuli Venezia Giulia Miani. The name to be noted on the agenda in Sardinia is that of Capichera, in Abruzzo Tiberio and Valentini, in reference to Trebbiano, in the Marche Villa Bucci, a brand of Verdicchio, in Campania the wines of Elena Fucci are at the top and in Puglia those of Gianfranco Fino. Finally, Sicily, between Etna and the sea, from De Bartoli to Feudo Montoni, from Gulfi to Tenuta delle Terre Nere.

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