Beautifully illustrated with lots of glossy colour photos, this is a very pretty book, and I’ve had great fun browsing through it. I’ve also learned a lot. It’s written by an ex-assistant director of the INAO in France, who’s cited as an expert in soils science, vitculture and oenology, and it has been translated from French.
So as you can imagine, the focus is firmly on the diverse wine terroirs of France, with less extensive coverage of other key global wine regions. Three points worth noting about this book.
First, it’s a thinking person’s book: you’ve got to be prepared to study some fairly full-on geology to understand what Fanet is on about. Nothing wrong with that, but be prepared to spend some time digesting the first few background chapters – without this context, the rest of the text is not that accessible.
Second, much like James Wilson’s popular book on terroir, this is a descriptive book: it tells us what the various terroirs are in terms of geology, but doesn’t make that all important link between the soil and the flavour of the wine. It’s a tall order to do this, but in the absence of this link, I find all the descriptions of the terroirs a little unsatisfying.
Third, the translation is a bit annoying: for example, all the grape varieties have ‘The’ put in front of them. So it’s ‘The Syrah’ and ‘The Pinot Noir’. A minor point, I guess. It’s all quite cleverly put together, though, grouping the various terroirs according to their geological origin. Recommended for all wine lovers who have an interest in the soil.
“Great Wine Terroirs” by Jacques Fanet
Hardcover 240 pages, November 1 2004
University of California Press