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Tuscany and Its Wines (2000)
by Hugh Johnson
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0811827224, Hardcover)It's a land in which "vineyard management" used to mean allowing the grapevines to wrap themselves up to the full height of elm and poplar trees. With Tuscany and Its Wines, prolific British wine author Hugh Johnson and peripatetic photographer Andy Katz bring this land of Chianti to a coffee table near you. More than three decades after the publication of his first book, Johnson manages here, in 144 pages bursting with dozens of gorgeous full-color photos (a few of which, alas, are uncaptioned), to take the reader on a breathless--and breathy--tour of one of the most celebrated regions in Italy, with narrative reminiscent of a particularly chatty uncle who's just picked you up at the train depot. And, as with many an avuncular itinerary, breathless narration can often leave you panting. Anyone unfamiliar with Tuscany may find themselves, after the endless parade of Certosa di Galluzos, Colli Fiorentinis, Ugo Contini Bonacossis, or Tenuta di Capezzanas, reaching--if not for a big carafe of Vino Nobile--for the drawn maps at the start of each chapter to determine whether these names are villages, Italian nobility, or local wines. But breathy quickly turns breezy as Johnson's evocative prose (the tannins of one Sangiovese are "invigorating, like a rough towel"; a particular hillside vineyard is a "green corduroy of vines") takes you jauntily to the town of Impruneta, producer of authentic terra cotta; Sant'Andrea, where Machiavelli wrote his treatise on power, The Prince; the villa at Vignamaggio, birthplace of Monna Lisa Gherardini, a.k.a. the Mona Lisa; and the city of Pistoia, whence the Germans coined the term "pistol" for the "nasty dagger carried under every Pistoiese's cloak." Italians, too, have a word--villegiatura--to denote the wish of escape from the city to a hillside villa. Tuscany and Its Wines may not replace a summer in Siena, but it's a dandy travel brochure. --Tony Mason
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:26 -0400)
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