‘I remember it was the 1960s and I was 14, probably. My first wine was a white wine that my father let me taste, from the area of Rome, a Castelli Romani [DOC]. The whites were a little orange before the age of the modern press; they’re a different style today. When I offer my father, who is now 99 years old, an orange wine or natural wine – the wine of my youth – he says, “I want something better because this is not so good”.
‘We remember these kind of wines in a certain way but I imagine for younger people, natural wines could be reasonable for them. Older people prefer the more “oenological” wines because, for them, they compare favourably with the wines of the past. It’s a point of view… Young people are probably correct and logical that they appreciate the wines that preserve nature.
‘I am very passionate about the wines of Campania, in the region of Naples. In the hills it is not a warm area. I know that it is famous for red wine but there are many little denominations of white wine. Imagine that Irpinia’s vineyards are from 500 to 1,000 metres above sea level so the wines are not “southern” in style… In 1990, they say they harvested in the first days of November; now it’s one month before.
‘You can imagine what global warming means for some parts of Italy. For some denominations this is very positive; strange to say but it is. For the warmer parts, probably not because now it is too hot and the wines can seem jammy. This is the same in Spain and France.
‘I invented the system of ‘Tre Bicchieri’ in 1987: if you drink three glasses of the wine, it is good, if you drink just two, it is good but you can find something better, if you have one glass, it is just to taste.
‘I think I have tasted 150,000 wines in my life…Sassicaia or great Riesling from the Mosel is very interesting but very expensive; this is a problem, especially for young people. I think it’s very important that they have things like my guide [The Essential Guide to Italian Wine 2022] to be able to show them that there are options.
‘I think that what the wine critic can do for the readers is to be a talent scout… I’m proud about some estates that I discovered, a good job in my opinion. Proud is a big word. There’s the Beatles’ song, “When I’m Sixty-Four” – I’m 67 now so imagine, I’m old but I am happy.’