The world atlas of wine, 7th edition

Published by Sally on November 26, 2013

Title of book: The world atlas of wine, 7th edition
Author: Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson
Publisher: Mitchell Beazley
Publication date: 2013
ISBN 978 1 84533689 9
Pages: 400
Price: £40.00

 There’s been an incarnation of this book in the household since I was child of the 70s, being weaned on the occasional watered-down glass of wine at the family ritual that typically, of that time, comprised Sunday lunch. Not that I ever referred to the earliest edition.

Later editions have always formed part of the backbone of my vinous library. The maps alone always make this book a many-splendid, and oft-referred to, thing. How any book can offer up wine maps without topographical detail I continually fail to understand. However the removal of altitudinal shading from some of the bigger scale maps is a sadly retrograde step. The sense of a mountainous spine down the entirety of New Zealand’s South Island is missing. Even Bordeaux could do with a couple of contours, if only to illustrate how altitudinally lowly it is, though of course you get the picture on the bigger scale maps. It’s great to see the extra detail at Châteauneuf-du-Pape but some contours might highlight, for example, the plateau of La Crau. Is it just me obsessed with altitude and viticulture?

The page count hasn’t changed since the previous edition, but the introduction section is nine pages shorter, allowing a bit of adjustment elsewhere. The tweaks of focus since the previous edition show the emergence of new and old places planting their feet more firmly on the map of improving quality winemaking recognition. Croatia is upgraded to its own entry. The Black Sea region is liberated from its former Soviet Republics moniker, and Georgia gets its own recognisance. Similarly Turkey is given its own headline standing apart from the rest of the eastern Mediterranean. The PR gubbins explains “coastal Croatia, Khaketi in Georgia, Canterbury in NZ, Swartland in South Africa, northern Virginia in the US[A] and Ningxia in China” are covered for the first time.

But Germany has had a couple of pages shaved off. JR clearly still has a way to go in her wonderful championing of riesling.

The new world does pretty well. North America gets a huge 17% increase in space allocation, and New Zealand is a whopping 33% bigger … well two pages. South Africa is 12.5% bigger, and Asia, with one extra page (for Japan), is 25% bigger. And on this measurement, viticultural Japan has done significantly better than India since the sixth edition of 2007. Does this mean India, without expanded profile, is not fulfilling its potential?

I prefer the use of cross headers in the new edition. I find it visually a bit crisper, cleaner, easier to instantly navigate the densely informative text. And swathes of wonderful fresh photographs help bring a new feel to the importance of things.

Undoubtedly this remains a book that no self-respecting wine lover should be without.

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