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Book Review: Inside Burgundy – The vineyards, the wine & the people

>> Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Inside Burgundy – The vineyards, the wine & the people
By: Jasper Morris
Berry Bro:s & Rudd Press

I wonder what it is with Burgundy that makes so many of the books on the region come shaped like bricks. This one weighs in at 1957 grams and 656 pages, just about 100 g more than Clive Coates’ massive tome on Burgundy. Perhaps it is that there are so many details to keep track of. The book by Jasper Morris is probably the most detailed and extensive account on Burgundy and its wines available today, if not ever.

The starting point is the vineyards, rather than the producers. This could be a drawback of sorts, since knowing exactly who the producer is is perhaps more important in Burgundy than anywhere else. But the ambition of the book is to cover “everything” in Burgundy, and then it makes total sense to start with the geography. The book is the result of the author’s 30 years history of buying and selling wines. He currently works with Berry Brothers, the wine seller in London, who’s first venture into publishing this is (we wonder what can follow on this!).

Starting in one end and going through the whole region Morris goes into detail on each commune, each premier cru, and each grand cru, talking about soil, location, history, tradition etc. He even includes the areas that are often left out in works like this: the Hautes-Côtes, Chablis, Auxerrois, Côte Chalonnaise, and the Mâconnais (but excludes Beaujolais unfortunately). Having done this ground work Morris then talks in some details about the most important growers (as he sees it) in each village.

A special mention must be made of the maps – probably the most detailed maps available on the Burgundian vineyards, based on the work of Sylvain Pitiot (med Pierre Poupon). A very valuable addition. The initial chapters goes over the “basics”: history, weather, grape varieties, vinification etc. But also this is quite detailed, including for example discussions on root stocks and pruning techniques. The book includes a single photograph… A massive work. Probably the most thorough account of Burgundy in print with a wealth of information!

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