The best ‘field guides’ to the fine wine regions of Champagne, Bordeaux and Tuscany

This new series of guides to the world’s finest wines and producers is presented by the editorial team at The World of Fine Wine,  one of the most authoratative periodicals in wine today.  They are only ‘field guides’ in that they are concise and portable, but they are very weighty in content.  Two of the guides recently published by UC Berkeley Press are The Finest Wines of Tuscany and Central Italy by Nicolas Belfrage, MW and The Finest Wines of Champagne by Michael Edwards.  The Finest Wines of Bordeaux written by James Lawther, MW is currently expected to be available in September, with publisher’s book site up in spring.

What I love about this new series is that they are comprehensive in covering the terroir, viticultural and winemaking practices of the finest wine regions with the very latest information and developments.  They also cover the best – in the opinion of the editorial team – wines and producers, incredibly fitting in the history, ownership, terroir, winemaking and wines for each producer in a brief two pages.  Taken as a whole, the enthusiast can glean trends in regions or sub-regions enriching their understanding of the wines.   The very helpful ‘guides’ also include summaries of vintages, top ten lists and a secton on food and wine.  In The Finest Wines of Champagne, Michael Edwards rates over ten of his favorite restaurants.

Another very appealing aspect of the guides are the casual photographic portraits of producers or winemakers taken by Jon Wyand, making the sometimes intimidating Bordeaux chateaux or Champagne House owners seem very approachable indeed.

This series is a great reference book for purchasing or investing in wines, but for someone who travels well and very light, this is a godsend.  The books are on average about 300 pages, but small in stature (6-1/2 x 8-5/8 inches) and in paperback form, making it ideal for taking on trips to the regions.  Having the latest information on the region and producer will make any visit more memorable and meaningful.  For those that know these regions, these guides are a joy to read to get the latest information; for those who are new to the regions or wines, you will find almost everything you need to know at your fingertips.