Synopses & Reviews
For centuries, France has long been the worldand#8217;s greatest wine-producing country. Its wines are the global gold standard, prized by collectors, and its winemaking regions each offer unique tasting experiences, from the spice of Bordeaux to the berry notes of the Loire Valley. Although grape variety, climate, and the skill of the winemaker are essential in making good wine, the foundation of a wineand#8217;s character is the soil in which its grapes are grown. Who could better guide us through the relationship between the French land and the wine than a geologist, someone who deeply understands the science behind the soil? Enter scientist Charles Frankel.
In Land and Wine, Frankel takes readers on a tour of the French winemaking regions to illustrate how the soil, underlying bedrock, relief, and microclimate shape the personality of a wine. The bookand#8217;s twelve chapters each focus in depth on a different region, including the Loire Valley, Alsace, Burgundy, Champagne, Provence, the Rhand#244;ne valley, and Bordeaux, to explore the full meaning of terroir. and#160;In this approachable guide, Frankel describes how Cabernet Franc takes on a completely different character depending on whether it is grown on gravel or limestone; how Sauvignon yields three different products in the hills of Sancerre when rooted in limestone, marl, or flint; how Pinot Noir will give radically different wines on a single hill in Burgundy as the vines progress upslope; and how the soil of each chand#226;teau in Bordeaux has a say in the blend ratios of Merlot and Cabernet-Sauvignon. Land and Wine provides a detailed understanding of the variety of French wine as well as a look at the geological history of France, complete with volcanic eruptions, a parade of dinosaurs, and a menagerie of evolution that has left its fossils flavoring the vineyards.
Both the uninitiated wine drinker and the confirmed oenophile will find much to savor in this fun guide that Frankel has spiked with anecdotes about winemakers and historic wine enthusiastsand#151;revealing which kings, poets, and philosophers liked which wines bestand#151;while offering travel tips and itineraries for visiting the wineries today.
andldquo;Charles Frankelandrsquo;s Land and Wine
recounts the story of wine in France from a unique geological perspective, highlighting the influence of the land and soil on the quality and style of the wines. In doing so, Frankel demystifies the idea of andlsquo;terroirandrsquo; and offers approachable anecdotes that will entertain and appeal to wine enthusiasts. andldquo;
“Who knew that the crispness of Sancerre stems from the unique succession of sedimentary strata buried in the limestone soil of the upper Loire Valley, or that a splendid Côte-de-Brouilly is a by-product of volcanism? The author is a geologist by training but an oenophile by avocation, and the combination of those interests makes Land and Wine an indispensable manual for wine connoisseurs interested in why the grapes of France taste as they do. Terroir, for Frankel, has a meaning that goes deep beneath the surface.” John Varriano, author of Wine: A Cultural History
and#8220;Can one really relate geology to taste? Most certainly.and#160;Land and Wine: The French Terroirand#160;is an intriguing book. For those who love dinosaurs and drinking wine, or who seek to gain deeper, more profoundly thoughtful and complex pleasures from within a bottle, this book is a must read.and#8221;
and#8220;A celebration of both science and art, the book demystifies the perplexities of wineand#8212;and the pretensions of so much wine-writingand#8212;in a manner as refreshing to the reader as tasting a crisp bottle of Sancerre, while learning its origins lie deep in Jurassic, Cretaneous, and Tertiary bedrock.and#8221;
and#8220;Not just another wine book, this volume by French geologist Frankel is about the geology that differentiates one French wine from another. . . . This work will cultivate oenophilesand#8217; interest in geology and vice versa. Both a fascinating introduction to the geology of France that will satisfy wine lovers with plentiful descriptions of beverages and wineries and a perfect textbook for anyone pursuing a sommelierand#8217;s pin.and#8221;
and#8220;Frankel takes readers on what might be called a tour de terroir, a swift, chatty, and generally readable survey of French wherenesses, the famous and not-so-famous places where French fine wine is sourced.and#8221;
and#8220;A geologist by profession, Frankel has a fluent amateurand#8217;s enthusiasm for a tour around a vineyard; managing to find plenty of viticulteurs for inclusion in the book as keen as he is, displaying their soils and subsoils in proud tasting-room glass cases. Frankel tours Franceand#8217;s wine-making regions not following Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinsonand#8217;s canonical and gazillion-selling Wine Atlas, but instead using as a guide the eras of geological time. Sounds a bit academic and dull? Itand#8217;s definitely not.and#8221;
and#8220;I have never encountered a book quite like this one. In careful detail, it tells the geological history of France, at each point linking the character of the countryand#8217;s wines to the underlying geology of the land on which the grapes are grown. The story proceeds chronologically, starting 500 million years ago, when great oceans were swallowed up during tectonic shifts, and ends just 10,000 years ago, at the moment when the Strait of Gibraltar broke open and the Mediterranean ceased to be an inland sea. Throughout, one is struck by the violence and diverand#173;sity of geological change and by the overarching lesson that few things are as essential to a place as its terroir.and#8221;
and#8220;Geologist Charles Frankeland#8217;s Land and Wine: The French Terroir is not soand#160; much a scientific exposand#233; as it is a beautifully described love triangle involving wine, rocks, and French history. With stories of Charles the Fat (839 to 888 CE), Philip the Bold (1342 to 1404), and Joan of Arc (1412 to 1431), each a contributor to the development of different wine regions, one cannot help but be entranced by this delightful interplay of history, wine, and the geologic evolution of the European continent.and#8221;
A companionable guide to the geology and soil (terroir) of the best vineyards in France.and#160; There exist only a handful of technical books about theand#160;terroirand#160;of France, and experts tell us there is always room for one moreand#151;especially if it is written in accessible prose.and#160; Charles Frankel is a geologist, adventurer, and science writer who has published books about geology, history of the earth (dinosaurs!), and outer space.and#160; Here, he deciphers the influence of the land on the aroma and quality of wines.and#160; Although the grape variety, climate, and skill of the winemaker are essential components, Frankel ably demonstrates how the geology also has a notable influence on the vineyard, the flavors and qualities of wine. The book takes us on a journey to experience the land of France, to admire the landscape, tracing the ancient history of its soil and subsoil, meeting the proprietors of vineyards, and enjoying some of the best wines along the way.and#160; The journey begins 445 million years ago and traces the development of the area that is now continental France up to the present day.and#160; We come to understand why the Beaujolais region produces its distinctive flavors and aromas (thanks to preponderances of manganese, sodium, and certain and#147;rotten rocksand#8221;).and#160; We tour Alsace and Touraine, Provence and Languedoc, Champagne, Bordeaux, the Rhone Valley, and other areas.and#160; Frankel proves an able and interesting tour guide.and#160; He also provides maps, detailed compositional tables of specific vintages, technical drawings of regional geologies, a glossary of terms, and an index of useful websites.
About the Author
Born in Paris, Charles Frankel
is a science writer and lecturer specializing in geology and planetary exploration. His books include The End of the Dinosaurs: Chicxulub Crater and Mass Extinctions
, Worlds on Fire,
and Guide des cand#233;pages et terroirs
Table of Contents
and#160;1. Savenniandegrave;res and Other Wines of Anjou2. Beaujolais3. Alsace4. Pouilly-Fuissandeacute; and Other Wines of Mandacirc;connais5. Corton and Other Wines of Burgundy6. Sancerre and the Upper Loire Valley7. The Central Loire Valley: Bourgueil, Chinon, and Saumur8. Vineyards of Provence9. Languedocandrsquo;s Vines and Dinosaurs10. Champagne11. Bordeaux12. The Rhandocirc;ne Valleyand#160;GlossaryBibliographyIndex of Geographical and Wine NamesGeneral Index