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James Wilson

Please note I haven't listed any prices here. This is because the links will take you to the relevant entry in the amazon.co.uk catalogue, which will give the up-to-date price (usually substantially discounted): this may change at short notice.  

terroir.gif (16609 bytes)Terroir

James Wilson

Hardcover - 336 pages (17 September, 1998)
Mitchell Beazley; ISBN: 1840000333


Terroir is a French term (pronounced tair-wahr) which refers to the interplay of natural elements that make up the myriad environments in which grapevines grow. It is also the key to understanding why fine wines are produced where they are. Central to the terroir concept is geology, which is where author James E. Wilson comes in. He is a highly regarded geologist and former Vice President for Exploration and Production at Shell Oil. Following a second career as a consultant, he has devoted himself to the study of the natural history and underlying geology of French wines.

The book is possibly the first and only to comprehensively investigate the primary sources of fine wines--rocks and soil. As Wilson writes in the introduction: "You should be warned, perhaps, that the author is a geologist, and geologists have a fraternal feeling about rocks--they like to call them by name, know what they are made of, how old they are, and how they became involved in the landscape." The first part of the book is an elaboration on the components of the French terroirs with a geologic map showing the distribution of older, "hard" rock types in the mountains and "younger" ones in the basins and valleys. Another map identifies the wine districts, relief and main climate zones of France. The second part of the book is a journey through scenic winelands across the diverse geology of France--slopes of chalk, glacial valleys, gravel mounds, granite outcrops and limestone cuestas. Individual chapters describe the wine areas, the formation of their landscapes, why some vineyards are superior to others and how elements of the terroirs interact.

Terroir is the result of an in-depth study which lasted for years, but it is not only a technical book. It combines natural and social history with little-known facts and anecdotes, woven into a compelling tale of how geology influences the quality of wine. Farmers will find it useful and wine lovers will find it fascinating. Both will finish it with a thorough knowledge of French rocks, having not touched anything other than the glass of wine on the side-table.

The author, a leading geologist, explains how the environment directly influences how each wine tastes and develops. The interplay of geology, soil, climate and culture of the vines are examined in this book, and how these various factors combine in creating wine.

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