“We [Italians] need to tell the stories of our wines ourselves,” says celeb sommelier Luca Gardini

One of the highlights of the Corriere della Sera food and wine festival in Milan over the weekend was the presentation of the newly released Corriere guide to “Italy’s top 100 wines and grape growers.”

Those are the guide’s editors (above, from left), Luciano Ferraro, the paper’s managing editor and its wine columnist, and celebrity sommelier Luca Gardini.

A who’s who of the Italian wine trade was there, including Arturo Ziliani, Leonardo Raspini, Angelo Gaja, and Elda Felluga, who was named the new guide’s “woman of the year.”

Luciano spoke at length about what sets the Corriere guide apart from the other mainstream almanacs of Italian wine. The editors don’t score or review the wines, he said. Instead, they “tell the stories” of 100 wineries and winemakers whose work shapes the Italian wine world today.

Where other editors, including some of their higher profile American counterparts, inform the reader “about what’s inside the bottle,” he explained, he and Luca strive to tell you about what goes into making that bottle.

I was really impressed by Luca’s short but well-honed message.

“We can’t just let other people tell the stories of our wines,” said the popular critic and editor (who scores wines in his own books). “We [Italians] need to tell the stories of our wines ourselves.”

I couldn’t help but think to myself: our bottles, ourselves. It’s a facile analogy based more in assonance than in symmetry. But there’s a wonderful nugget of wisdom in what Luca shared yesterday at the event.

Over the years, as the Italian wine renaissance has taken off in the U.S., the voice of American critics has sometimes driven perceptions of Italian wines in unexpected — although not always unwelcome — ways. I’m with Luca in believing that we all need to listen to each other, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Writing on the fly this afternoon from a very windy, somewhat cloudy, but stunningly beautiful spring day in Montalcino. Stay tuned…

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