Q & A with Italian cartographer Alessandro Masnaghetti

Alessandro Masnaghetti is a highly respected Italian wine journalist, publisher, editor, and writer of Enogeaa a bi-monthly italian wine journal.  He is also a cartographer and his maps, if you will allow your eyes to go beyond the visual beauty a feast for the mind.

 

You’re are more known as a wine writer in Italy. Tell me about how you started with these maps.
AM: My first job, as you wrote, is wine tasting and wine writing, but since the beginning I have had a great passion for wine maps (and maps in general… and those who love maps will know what I mean). As you can see on my web site, my first maps was published in 1994 by Veronelli Editore (Luigi Veronelli was my “maestro” and was the most important journalist of wine and food in Italy.  We can say that he invented this profession in Italy). It was a map about the vineyards of Barbaresco township with an in depth analysis of exposition and historical material.  A map that was really new in Italy, but in a few months it revealed to be a real “fiasco” from the commercial point of view.  May be it was too early for this kind of work, at least in Italy. So we decided to stop the project and continue on the path of wine tasting and wine critics.  Anyway, in my mind I was certain that the idea was good and I never really gave up the idea. So in 2005, when I decided to restart my newsletter Enogea (after the Guida de L’espresso experience), I thought that the time had come to try this adventure again and in 2007 I published the first two maps on my own: Castiglione Falletto in the Barolo region and Panzano, in the Chianti Classico region.  Luckily the answer of the market was far better and I was encouraged to continue. Now I have 19 maps in my catalog, 3 maps for the iPad and 1 map for the iPhone and many others are due in the next years

Is there one of these maps that is more special to you than the others?
AM: I ask the same question to wine producers many times about their wines and a lot of them say that there is not a more special vintage and I always thought they were lying.   After your question now I think that I was wrong. I do not have a more special map just as a wine producer does not have a more special vintage. I have put the same energy and passion in each one of them.

Italy is so complex with its regions, sub regions, terroirs and varietals. You’ve been called herculean. How long does it take to create one of these?
AM: I have never made this kind of calculation because as you said before, I am a wine taster and a wine writer too so I can’t work all year long on the maps.  Maps and tastings overlay many many times in a year but this is the secret to produce a good map every time. Creating a map is not only topography and technology, you must walk in the vineyards, taste the wines, talk to each producer, from the big stars to the smaller and simpler ones. Anyway, in 5 years I have produced 19 maps. This means 3 to 4 maps a year.

Which is your favorite region?
AM: Until now I have only made maps from Piedmont and Tuscany (in particular Bolgheri and Chianti Classico) and this explains many things but not everything. I love many other wine and wine regions too: Alto Adige, Verdicchio, Amarone and of course, many others outside Italy.

Tell me about one of your most memorable wine experiences
AM: It is like maps.  Its very difficult to choose. It is certain that the most memorable wines are linked to my youth and my first years in the wine world. You know wine is not only a bottle, a label and a glass, it reminds you of a special situation, a particular mood.  So, I can cite a Barolo Monprivato 1978 of Violante Sobrero, drunk with an old friend of mine in the late 80’s, in a dark and mouldy winebar.  And a Moscato Rosa 1967 of Graf Kuenburg (Caldaro, Alto Adige), tasted at the property in 1992.  A wine from another era may be from another planet.  Unforgettable.