Putting the brilliant wine writers Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson together to update the 4th edition of Hugh Johnson's classic work was an inspired choice. Each is superb on her or his own. Together, they are stunning in this, their first collaboration!
Whether you want to give a wonderful gift or simply to have a great wine reference, this book is an outstanding choice. The World Atlas of Wine will deepen your pleasure in wines you enjoy, and guide you to wonderful visits to outstanding vineyards and wineries during your travels. Hopefully, your tasting experiences will benefit as a result!
If you do not know the predecessor works, let me describe the book's layout. It begins with brief sections on the history of wine; basic facts about the influence of soil, temperature, varietals, wines, wine-making, storage, serving, and tasting; and has helpful information about how to read labels and interpret technical terms.
The heart of the book comes in individual essays about wine-growing regions around the world. These are very complete. France has 58 sections, Italy has 18, Germany shares 14, the United States is covered by 12, Spain is represented by 8, Australia has 7, Portugal has 6. Many other countries are covered as well, including parts of the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, North Africa, South America, and smaller countries in Europe.
Each individual wine-growing region is organized around an updated map. For this 5th edition, 148 maps were redrawn from the 4th, and 30 new maps were added. These maps show where the major wineries are, different vineyards, qualities of grapes, altitudes, major roads, and locations is cities within the area. In some cases, these maps are also supplemented by detailed examples of soil differences and temperature gradients. Each region has at least one beautiful color photograph to give you a sense of the geography. Within the accompanying essay is a detailed discussion of how the locale affects the taste and qualities of the wines that are produced there.
Anyone will find themselves learning a lot from this atlas. Even if you were familiar with a region ten years ago, chances are that it has changed. The atlas will bring you up-to-date. In addition, you can learn about new regions and wineries whose wines may interest you.
A nice feature of the book is a bound ribbon for marking your place.
Considering the remarkable quality of the contents and reproduction of the maps and images, this book is extremely fairly priced.
The predecessor four editions have sold 3.5 million copies over the last 30 years. I think we can safely assume that this volume will sell in the millions as well. If you already own the 4th edition, you would be well advised to buy this one also.
Where else can understanding local conditions help you appreciate more about what is going on? How can you gain that experience and knowledge?
Let curiosity pull you forth from old habits . . . into better ones!