Dr Ian D’Agata, an Italo-Canadian considered a world authority on Italian wine and native Italian wine grapes. D’Agata comes from a family of doctors and was born in Canada where his father was undertaking his medical training (his father was a psychiatrist), The family moved back to Italy when D’Agata was still an infant. D’Agata is himself a qualified medical doctor (he practised as a pediatrician and specialized in pediatric gastroenterology and pediatric liver transplants having studied at Cincinnati, Harvard and Montreal universities). D’Agata’s grandmother was from Trieste. He also has family roots in Sicily where his ancestors own vineyards.
In his late teens the D’Agata family’s weekend getaway was to the Castelli Romani region near Rome, the city where D’Agata is currently based. Whilst D’Agata was studying at the oenology school in Velletri a restaurateur friend took him to see some Malvasia del Lazio or Puntinata vineyards. At that time Italian producers were focused on trying to make such native Italian varieties more productive, rather than focusing on quality, and this stimulated D’Agata’s interest in the true potential of native Italian wine grapes.
The first great wine he tried was a Barolo from his father’s cellar in Toronto. In around 1978 or 1979 D’Agata was inspired by wine writer Luigi Veronelli (who was from Bergamo, a city which D’Agata also had connections to) to investigate the named vineyard sites or ‘crus’ in the Barolo DOCG region of Piemonte.
Ian D’Agata, ‘Sauternes and Barsac 2011 & 2013’, Decanter Jan 2016, p92.
Ian D’Agata, ‘Beyond Etna’, Decanter Italy 2011 supplement, p.78.
Ian D’Agata, ‘The return of the native’, Decanter Italy 2011 supplement, p.82-3.
Ian D’Agata, Native wine grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014).
Emily O’Hare, ‘Going native with Ian d’Agata’, The Florentine, March 2017 (http://www.theflorentine.net/food-wine/2017/03/going-native-with-ian-dagata/)