The World Atlas of Wine

Reviewed by Wes Marshall, Fri., Dec. 6, 2013

Santa's Big Cookbook Bag

by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson
Mitchell Beazley, 400 pp., $55

The English reading public can now create a near-perfect wine library just on the printed works of Jancis Robinson, Master of Wine. Her latest is the seventh edition of The World Atlas of Wine, written in conjunction with internationally famous wine author Hugh Johnson. This edition of the ongoing series is the first since 2007; despite its formidable size and weight (5 pounds), this book has sold 4.5 million copies worldwide, a phenomenal number for such a specialized book. There are many reasons for its success, but chief among them is the clear and un-snobby writing style of its two authors. Both Johnson and Robinson take wine seriously enough to create its finest reference books, but neither ever sinks to the common elitist gobbledygook. Everything about the book screams quality, from the superior paper to the two silk page markers. On top of that, the information is unassailable and the maps have plenty of detail to help explain the impact of geography and climate on winemaking.

My one complaint is that the Old Dominion of Virginia gets an entire chapter and Texas does not. With Texas and Virginia and three or four others all claiming to be the fifth largest wine-producing state in the country, picking just one had to be difficult. But Texas has more wineries and more acres planted, so I think we should at least have gotten equal treatment.

Robinson's other books in the same, coffeetable-busting size include American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United States; Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours; and The Oxford Companion to Wine. All of these books are highly recommended for the oenophile on your list.

write a letter