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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Nicholas Belfrage MW & Franco Ziliani

Luigi Veronelli, arguably the most influential post-war figure in Italian wine, died at his home in Bergamo, east of Milan, on 30 November. He was 78. Gino' Veronelli was the journalist-author who launched an Italian revolution - not just of wines, but of the whole oenogastronomic sector. From the 1960s, he persuaded and cajoled growers, winemakers, sommeliers, chefs and restaurant owners to embrace terroir and individual expression. He was also largely responsible for the introduction into Italy of French barriques, which have perhaps done more than anything to undermine terroir in wine styles. His style itself was unique, sometimes impenetrable, sometimes verging on poetry. Relatively unknown abroad, in Italy he was viewed almost as a god. He will be remembered for his magnanimity and humanity. Traditional winemaking in Piemonte lost one of its greatest protagonists when Mario Pesce, prime mover and ex-proprietor of Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa of Nizza Monferrato in Asti province, died on 3 December at the age of 79. Pesce was a gentleman of the old school. He was a faithful and intelligent interpreter of that Piemontese tradition represented today by luminaries like Aldo Conterno, Quinto Chionetti, Beppe Colla, Bartolo Mascarello and others who eschew modern methods such as abbreviated maceration, ageing in small barriques and blending with non-traditional varieties.