Wine books ain’t what they used to be it’s true. Maybe everything that needs to be said in general terms has already been said. Or maybe our Social Media flicking, music streaming generation just doesn’t have the patience or attention span for more serious works. Whatever the reason, it does seem that the heyday of serious wine books that delved deeply and academically into their subject is past.
Burgundy is possibly something of an exception. This most historic, complex and, at times, bewildering region is widely accepted to produce some of the world’s finest wines. But it also presents huge challenges in understanding the often micro-detailed and always developing jigsaw of vineyards, estates and winemakers. For that reason, several excellent authors have taken on the challenge of really delving deeply into Burgundy at the sub-atomic level. We are lucky to have had a string of fine reference books over the decades that have examined and explained the soils, the vine clones, the techniques and the personalities of Burgundy. My own primers were Anthony Hanson and Clive Coates, but Remington Norman, Sylvain Pitiot, Matt Kramer and several more have written sometimes fabulously detailed books.
Daddy of them all, however, is arguably Inside Burgundy by Jasper Morris MW. Having spent a lifetime importing some of the most interesting wines of the region, he now lives there, and the first edition of this epic tome arrived in 2010. An immensely detailed, authoritative work running to 650 pages, it was a text book on all aspects of Burgundy, from terroir to individual estate styles. Now, the second edition updates all of that and adds another 150 pages with more full colour maps, more vineyards and domaines covered, and of course information updated.
It is a book that is daunting in its weight and sheer volume of information, and yet has been structured very usefully so that a description of a domaine will index which vineyards they farm, and a description of a vineyard will index which domaines take fruit from it. The book does not have specific tasting notes on vintages as these will date too quickly, but whilst most pen-pictures of producers are factual, describing their winemaking philosophy and history for example, Jasper does express opinions and summarises how he finds the wines in more general terms.
It is without doubt the definitive book on Burgundy for the serious enthusiast, and guide from a trusted and knowledgeable source. It is a positive mine of quality information.
£65 from Berry Bros. & Rudd.