James WilsonHardcover - 336 pages (17 September, 1998)
Mitchell Beazley; ISBN: 1840000333
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.