Why do the fine wines of France grow where they do? How can two seemingly similar sites, even within a single vineyard, produce wines of different quality? How much credit goes to the winemakers and how much belongs to nature itself?
Who better to ponder these questions than a geologist and wine-lover in equal measure? James E. Wilson is a firm believer that "terroir" -- the interplay of natural elements that make up the myriad environments in which vines grow -- is the key to understanding why fine wines are produced where they are. Central to the terroir concept is geology. Can it be pure coincidence that France, the world's greatest and most diverse wine country, has within its boundaries an underlying geology that includes every period of rock formation on earth?
This in-depth study, the result of years of meticulous research, reveals the relationship between rocks and grapes. Here is natural history and social history, little-known fact and anecdote, woven into the compelling tale of how geology influences the quality of wine. The book begins by revealing the components of the French terroirs that influence the distribution of wine areas, choice of grapes, and style of wines. Each rock type and its soils are described, and the way soil structure affects the absorption of vital nutrients by the vine roots is explained. The role of 2,000 years of history and people is traced. Early vignerons recognized differences within and between their vineyard plots long before geologic forms and processes were understood. Now, for the first time, an explanation can be given for the distinctive personalities of fine French wines.
Individual chapters describe the diverse geologies of thewine regions, from the chalk slopes of Champagne to the plains of the Rhone delta, from the granite slopes of Alsace and Beaujolais to the gravel mounds of Bordeaux, and from the cliffs and terraces of the Loire to the mountain slopes of the Pyrenees. Little-known districts are discovered and world-famous ones, such as the Cote d'Or, are celebrated for their viticultural riches.
James E. Wilson's unparalleled research has resulted in a book that will be appreciated by wine enthusiasts and professionals alike. It is the ideal partner with which to contemplate the wine in your glass.