cover image THE NEW FRANCE: A Complete Guide to Contemporary French Wine

THE NEW FRANCE: A Complete Guide to Contemporary French Wine

Andrew Jefford, , photos by Jason Lowe. . Mitchell Beazley, $45 (208pp) ISBN 978-1-84000-410-6

This comprehensive wine atlas leaves no centimeter of terroir unexplored. After a thorough introduction to France, French winemaking and the concept of terroir, Jefford (Wine Tastes Wine Styles) gets to the heart of the matter with lengthy chapters on each of France's 14 regions. Each of these consists of an overview of the region and its history, profiles of the area's major winemakers, a description of the land and listings and descriptions of the local wineries. Some of the latter are lengthy, while others are brief, but all include an address and phone number, making this book useful as a guidebook as well. Jefford is refreshingly opinionated: the Loire Valley is in the throes of a "long and refined stone age," while Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace is the domain "most emblematic of the New France as a whole." The effort here is encyclopedic, but the writing rises above the usual dry discussion, comparing the quest to understand Burgundy to doing crossword puzzles. Even the most matter-of-fact information is presented with a certain flair: in a description of the Rhone Valley, Jefford explains that the area's mistral wind is both destructive and useful, in that it blows away "fugs and fungal diseases." Numerous maps and photographs—including portraits of the winemakers profiled—and a full list of vintages round out this entertaining addition to its field. (Oct.)

Forecast:Jefford is a terrific writer, and with numerous illustrations and 150 photographs, this is fairly priced at $45. While the book doesn't break a lot of new ground—this is, after all, a country where wine has been made for more than 2,000 years—it is solid.