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Languedoc Roussillon: The Wines and Winemakers Paperback – 27 Oct 2017
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"Paul Strang has been a main driver of the renaissance of South West France. This new edition confirms the coming-of age of Languedoc-Roussillon as France's new fine wine region, a work of reference and a beautiful volume that wouldn't have been possible even five years ago, or without the combination of Paul's research and Jason's painterly eye. It's already led me to brilliant wines I've never met before." Hugh Johnson OBE "Strang's book remains the finest reference to this dynamic wine region, and a compelling argument for Languedoc Roussillon as the source of some of France's greatest values for terroir-driven wines today." Jamal Rayyis, Wine & Spirits "Invest in Paul Strang's book (beautifully illustrated with photos by Jason Shenai): if it leads you to just a handful of Languedoc Roussillon's best winemakers, it will have repaid your investment many times over." Bill Knott, The Oldie "In a large format with attractive photography and useful maps, this is a very useful directory to the producers of this vast and diverse region." Amanda Barnes, Circle of Wine Writers
About the Author
Paul Strang is a lover of Southern France and its wines. After many gruelling, painstaking years of hard labour talking to the growers, eating and drinking in the Languedoc, he recently produced a completely revised bible of their wines entitled 'Languedoc Roussillon - The Wines and Winemakers' to add to his range of books on the area. Amongst his other talents, Paul was also the lawyer to The Wine Society when the wine stocks were moved from the cellars beneath the London Palladium to the new warehouse in Stevenage under the aegis of Edmund Penning-Rowsell. He also recalls the first computer system that The Wine Society installed and the ensuing interesting events.
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Firstly, this paperback retails at £35. by any standards that is expensive. The old edition was hardback and £25. Whilst the layout is very clear and attractive (the photos have a terrific impact) the real test is what the text has to tell us. What is strange is that the earlier edition was 192 pages and the new edition is 302. Yet the text on each domain is neither as informative nor as detailed as it was in the earlier edition. The introduction to the book, and the introduction to each sub region is largely a cut and paste from the earlier work. There are no vintage ratings either generally or for each sub region. Whilst there are contact details for each domaine and visiting advice the survey of each domaine is shorter and does not list each wine that the domaine makes. You have to read each domaine report and somehow glean what is said about each wine.
There is a pricing code which is useful to a degree but wine prices are easily accessible these days on wine searcher. The only new material is an explanation of the rather complex AOC system. Visitors using this as a guide will probably have more interest in the wines themselves rather than an AOC system which in an area like the Languedoc/Roussillon is inconsistent and not complete.
Overall, if you have not read the first edition then this book will be a helpful one for you. It is a guide to take with you on trips to see domaines that may interest you. Do be aware that the book is very heavy and not one you will want to carry around with you unless in the car. The maps are however excellent and an improvement on those in the earlier edition.
Overall I felt that the author has sacrificed some detail in the text for a clearer layout and bigger spacing on the page. Despite the updating the old edition, if you have it, will still serve you well.
So, although it states on the cover that it is a "new edition" chunks of it have been taken from the original edition. Is it worth £35? No, not if you still have the 2002 edition. If not then probably yes, but only because there is no real competition for this book. The detailed writing on the domaines has been displaced by glossy presentation.
This recent book by Paul Strang is the most thorough and comprehensive guide to the wines of the Languedoc and Roussillon. It is an indispensable reference and contact-source for wine merchants and oenophiles, written with an insider's knowledge of the region and its vignerons. The excellent page design and typographic hierarchy make it quick and effortless to find entries you’re looking for.
But in addition to this, the general reader will find that this handsome book also serves to whet one's appetite for a visit to this area of southwestern France. Jason Shenai's photographic portraits of local vintners and atmospheric landscapes reveal the life and beautiful world of wine-making in this area.
This is unquestionably the definitive book on wines of the Languedoc/Roussillon. I rate it 10 out of 10.