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Wine Books
Wine Books

There are a huge number of wine books around, these days, it can be a bit of a nightmare trying to choose the ones that provide the most relevant and interesting information. In this section we recommend a few books which we feel provide the most interesting and informative content (especially, though not exclusively, for the areas we feature) for wine novices and "experts" alike......

Le Guide Hachette des Vins
Guide Hachette A good place to start, since this book is all about French wine. Normally published only in France, the publishers did issue a couple of editions recently in the English language. For whatever reason, though (possibly because it did not sell enough copies) they have reverted to only issuing the French version. Having said that, although it is an advantage to speak (read) a little French, it is not essential to getting great enjoyment out of the book. At over 1,000 pages, it is a weighty volume, compiled from scratch each year, following tastings of 30,000 different wines, from virtually every appellation in France. A series of blind tastings, by 900 wine experts, decides on 9,000 of the best wines for inclusion in the book, including prices at the cellar door, contact/visiting details and tasting notes. Any wine listed is (of course) deemed to be worthy of merit. Some, though, are awarded 1, 2 or 3 stars and the very best are awarded "Coup de Coeur", meaning that it is a "love at first sip"(!) wine. Some of the wines and winemakers on our list are included in the book, some are not. This is mainly because of the one drawback of this particular publication - wines are only considered for inclusion, if the winemaker chooses to send samples for tasting. Despite this drawback, the Guide Hachette is a worthwile book to own, and an indispensible one, for those who like to visit the vineyards whilst holidaying in France. You can find the Guide Hachette in good bookshops and at Amazon.co.uk. Normal price is about £25, published by Mitchell Beazley.

The Wines of the South of France - from Banyuls to Bellet - Rosemary George
In many ways, this was the book that was the catalyst for the creation of Leon Stolarski Fine Wines. Having travelled extensively around the south of France for some years, using various other wine books as my guide, I saw this in my local bookshop. I mulled over it for quite a while - after all, £30 for what is (to all intents and purposes) a paperback was certainly not cheap! But it is the result of some extremely extensive and in-depth research by the writer, Rosemary George M.W, whose love for this region and its wines is writ large on every page. As the title suggests, it begins in Banyuls, close to the Spanish border, and wends its way right across the majority of southern France, finishing in Bellet, close to Nice, on the Côte d'Azur. It also takes in the island of Corsica.

There is much information about the history and politics of winemaking in southern France, both ancient and modern, together with a huge amount of detail on the terroir, the grapes, the growers and their wines. It is not an exhaustive guide to the myriad growers to be found in each region, rather a collection of profiles on the ones that the writer visited over a lengthy period of time. She does a wonderful job of conveying the passion and dedication of these growers, their love for the land and the wines they make from it. There are rudimentary tasting notes here and there, though nothing too detailed - such detail would probably detract from the real aim of the book, which is really all about the people who make the wines. Incidentally, don't expect pictures, either colour or otherwise - a few simple maps is all you get. Nevertheless, this really is an essential book for all who are passionate about the wines of this wonderful region. Published by Mitchell Beazley, and now available from Amazon.co.uk for just £17.50.

Oh, and the catalyst.......? See our About us section for full details!