Tom Hyland is a Chicago-based wine writer/educator and photographer, specializing in Italian wines.
He has authored two books on Italian wines, and has conducted seminars for the trade on various Italian wines in Chicago, New York and in Bordeaux at VinExpo.
Wine professionals and consumers share a similar aspiration when they visit a wine region; they want to enjoy the area’s best dining experiences so they can pair their favorite local wines with the territory’s typical food offerings.
While commonplace throughout Italy, this situation is nowhere more prominent than in Piedmont, especially in the region’s southern Langhe district. Lunch or dinner in the Barolo and Barbaresco production zones here is more than a simple pleasure; this is wine, and food pairing elevated to an art form.
For much of the wine history of Abruzzo, large cooperatives established a perception that the region’s wines were pleasant and technically correct, but offered little in the way of excellence. Today, the image of Abruzzese wine has taken on a new light, as dozens of smaller producers are crafting more sophisticated offerings that not only display superior complexity, but also offer greater elegance and aging potential as compared with the typical wines of the past.
Wine Scholar Guild is pleased to provide its readers with vintage and harvest reports for some of Italy’s most famous regions, from 2010 onward. We felt it was time that we expand our assessment of vintages and harvest reports outside of France and Italy was first on our list. To compile this in-depth report, we reached out to Italian wine specialist Tom Hyland.
Tom seemed like the perfect fit for this project, as he has been reporting on and promoting Italian wines for more than twenty years as a journalist, educator, and photographer. He has made more than 75 trips to wine regions throughout all of Italy from his home in Chicago. In that time, he has written for numerous publications, including Decanter, wine-searcher.com and most recently Wine Spectator. He has written two books on Italian wine: Beyond Barolo and Brunello (2013) and The Wines and Foods of Piemonte (2016). Tom has conducted seminars on Italian wine for the trade and public; over the past year, he has led more than two dozen webinars with Italian producers; among these were several for Wine Scholar Guild. He also served as US ambassador for Consorzio I Vini del Piemonte for five years. He is also an accomplished photographer, having been named Wine Photographer of the Year (Category: Places) in 2020 at the prestigious Pink Lady competition in England.
Andrea Eby, Italian Programs Director, asked Tom to provide a short blog article describing how he went about compiling this fantastic resource. We hope you enjoy the article and find the vintage charts as useful as we do. As always, we look forward to your questions and comments!
Apart from the Côte d’Or in Burgundy, perhaps no other wine territory has been dissected in greater detail than the Barolo zone. This makes perfect sense, as these are arguably the two most ideal representations of the concept of terroir; just as Pinot Noir from one village in Burgundy reveals different flavors than that of another nearby hamlet, so too offerings of Barolo from various communes often display diverse characteristics, despite the fact that every wine here is made exclusively from Nebbiolo.
There are 11 approved communes in the Barolo production zone. For this article, we will deal primarily with the five largest: La Morra, Serralunga d’Alba, Monforte d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto and Barolo itself. The remaining six are Cherasco, Diano d’Alba (interestingly, planted more to Dolcetto than Nebbiolo), Grinzane Cavour, Roddi, Verduno and Novello; these last two are home to two of the most in-demand vineyards in the entire zone: Monvigliero in Verduno and Ravera in Novello.