Italy’s most celebrated wine and food critic Luigi Veronelli died at his home in Bergamo yesterday after a long illness. He was 78.
‘Gino’ Veronelli was among the first to celebrate the men and women who dedicated their lives to viticulture and agriculture. His pioneering guide to Italian wines, first published in 1959, set the standards for wine writing and wine guides around the world, and his television series on cooking and wine in the 1960s introduced millions of Italians to Italy’s regional specialities.
Born in Milan in 1926, he held a degree in philosophy but dedicated most of his life to writing about Italian wine and gastronomy. His classical training was evident in his writing, and he was often described as ‘the bard’ as he coined many of the common phrases used to describe Italian wine.
‘Vino da meditazione’ for dessert wines and ‘Vino da favola’ (instead of vino de tavola) to describe Italy’s Super Tuscan table wines are just a few examples.
Veronelli was also an active campaigner in many of the reforms which now govern Italian wine production and was the first to advocate the now common use of cru or vineyard names on labels.
His advice on wine and viticulture was not only for consumers. According to Barolo and Barbaresco producer Bruno Giacosa, the critic also influenced Italy’s top wine producers.
‘Gino was all heart,’ Giacosa told decanter.com. ‘He was the first person to teach us that a great wine was born in the vineyards. He was the first to point out the absolute necessity of carefully selecting grapes in the vineyards, the importance of terroir, of realising the potential of one vineyard or cru over another.
‘He believed Italian wine could be brought to exceptional levels if we worked closely with the earth. Back in the 60s and 70s, no one thought like this. He truly was a pioneer.’
Written by Kerin O’Keefe