2017 represents a year of change for the L’Espresso Guides. We asked the Editor-in-Chief Enzo Vizzari all the latest news about the new “I Vini d’Italia 2017” and “I Ristoranti d’Italia 2017” wine and restaurant guides.
Mr. Vizzari, what are the major new features in this edition?
By definition, the Guide is new every year. Because it is totally redone from scratch. Let’s start with the “I Ristoranti d’Italia” restaurant guide: in Italy, there are more than 200,000 “places to eat”. We review 2000 of them. This means that even just being part of the guide has a great value. It means being at the top, no doubt about it.
For 38 editions, we have always given marks out of twenty. From this year, the new feature is that the mark will be expressed in “Hats”. We have got rid of the various levels of judgement, creating six main evaluation bands: no hat and then from 1 to 5. And having zero hats is in no way a demerit because just being among the 2000 reviewed in the guide really does have great significance.
Where does this need for evaluation come from?
Objectively, as with each edition we have to judge restaurants that are profoundly different in terms of history, culture, size and cooking style, with different sensibilities, over the years, classifying them had become increasingly arbitrary. This year is year zero for us. A fresh start marked by an evaluation that takes into account elements that it is often not possible to evaluate. This news has aroused great curiosity and many doubts and, indeed, I expect that from tomorrow, many restaurant owners will be dissatisfied with the evaluative parameters being used, especially when compared to the previous marking system, and to that of other colleagues. But I’m convinced that when you start afresh, it’s a good idea to be that bit stricter, so that you then have room for growth and change. An evolution that will hone this evaluation technique even further.
The most important thing is that our judgement is based on the food and the food alone. “I Ristoranti d’Italia” is the first guide that also features text describing the establishment: the atmosphere, wine cellar and service, but does not use these elements in the evaluation.
The wine guide has also been revamped. Can you tell us what’s new?
More than a simple revamp, I’d say we’re talking about a radical overhaul! Our intent is not to create a sort of wine bible, an encyclopaedia or a catalogue, but rather a tool aimed at consumers. And I’m talking about enthusiasts, who are not always industry insiders, but who are attentive and curious.
We have come up with three distinct classifications: 100 wines to drink right now, 100 excellent wines to put away and the same number of excellent products in terms of value for money (with very different price ranges). In addition, we have pointed out the best wines from the top 80/100 Italian names. It is a radically different guide that aims to encourage consumers in their purchases, rather than be exhaustive. A handy, usable tool. And to make a radically new and different product, we revamped the whole team, starting from the curators.
What does producing the Guides actually involve?
The Restaurants one for example... A guide means a year of intense work. And 90 people travelling all over Italy to the featured restaurants. No author reviews the same establishment for more than one year and, as the marks go up, a restaurant is visited by several people. A guide is a great effort involving a universe of people, experience and excellence.