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Essential reading

By Jane Faulkner

10 Feb, 2020

Halliday tasting team member, wine writer (and reader), Jane Faulkner knows a thing or two about wine books. She shares her top picks of the industry’s latest titles here. 

  • Wines of the French Alps by Wink Lorch

  • Wink Lorch’s first book Jura Wine is my go-to reference on the region and I expect her latest, Wines of the French Alps to be of equal indispensability. Her exploration of the region is largely due to a love of skiing and of course, the wines of Savoie, Bugey, Isere, Le Dios and Hautes-Alpes. It follows the same format as her first book, with the same clean, refreshing writing-style that outlines useful information like where to stay, what to do and importantly, where to eat and drink. The book is a brilliant travel-guide with a concise introduction to French Alpine wines and a bittersweet tribute to her partner Brett Jones who died in December 2018. 
    Wine Travel Media | Available for purchase here.

  • Italy's Native Wine Grape Terroirs by Ian D'Agata

  • Italian wine aficionados will be well acquainted with Ian D’Agata’s work – especially Native Wine Grapes of Italy, published in 2014. Italy’s Native Wine Grape Terroirs digs deeper into specific varieties and their places, giving a learned and quirky explanation about terroir. He uses a comparison of Italy’s 100 officially recognised pasta shapes to convey the effects that "diversity in grape and terroir has to create an ultimately satisfying taste experience. Details matter.” D’Agata always makes me question, think and rethink the Italian wine landscape – a sure sign of a worthy reference book. 
    University of California Press | Available for purchase here.

  • The Wines of Germany by Anna Krebiehl MW

  • London-based, German-born Anna Krebiehl warns her readers that The Wines of Germany isn’t a comprehensive book on German wine as the subject is so vast “it can only ever be a sketch". Well, sketches can be detailed too and Krebiehl is a wonderful writer who provides much clarity. Her intelligence and knowledge come to bear as she un-muddles German wine law succinctly – compulsory reading for any wine-student. Her inclusion of producers always ends with a wine to try, for example, if drinking a wine from Weingut Clemens Busch, Krebiehl suggests trying the “Marienburg Kabinett for explosive liveliness and fireworks of flavour.” 
    Infinite Ideas Limited | Available for purchase here.

  • The World Atlas of Wine (8th Edition) by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson

  • Anyone starting out on their wine journey or wanting an excellent all-round guide should opt for The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. Compared to 2013’s previous iteration, the 8th edition of this comprehensive wine-guide explores the impact of climate change, features 20 original maps and new sections dedicated to Brazil and Israel (among others). Robinson says it took two years of work and input from 68 experts to make this book possible. And It shows. It’s a fine edition with a lot of content packed into its 416 pages – a gripe is the small print within the index and gazetteer (magnifying glass advisable), which thankfully does not appear in the actual text.
    Octopus Publishing Group | Available for purchase here.

  • Vignette: Stories of Life & Wine in 100 Bottles by Jane Lopes

  • Vignette isn’t what you would refer to as a traditional reference book, instead it is an honest, heart-felt account of a life in wine, with highs and lows, pain and joy, sorrow and hope, love and more. This book is a segue into and out of sommelier Jane Lopes’s narrative – a personal story infused with wine and spirts – alongside games and a crossword included. She weaves her words well, sometimes close to the bone (I winced often). Lopes reveals many gems including: “Great Barolo is like a tuning fork. It picks up on the vibrations and energy of those drinking it and amplifies them. No wine is so emotional or dramatic.” It needs to be noted few wine books achieve a look and feel the way Vignette does; Lopes credits designer Lucy Sykes-Thompson and illustrator, Robin Cowcher as a result. Undeniably, It would have been a lesser-read without the beautiful design and Cowcher’s exquisite drawings – yet, apropos of nothing, a phrase or description pops into my head and I realise they are Jane Lopes’s words. Powerful stuff.
    Hardie Grant | Available for purchase here.

    Find out more about Jane Faulkner and the Halliday Tasting Team.