As informative as it is beautiful, long-time Champagne resident and expert Peter Liem has released this encyclopaedic volume that approaches the region and its wine from an altogether different angle… the terroir. This builds an innate sense of place that weaves itself throughout and presents a wealth of knowledge of an area both deep rooted in history and tradition but also showing innovation and growth from established houses and new producers alike.
‘For me, the context of a wine is paramount: to truly understand a wine it’s important to know where it was grown, how it was made and who was responsible for it.’ Peter Liem
The first section artfully covers the basics – laying out the history of the area and the houses, the wine making process, grapes, soil and farming, the various styles produced and other numerous aspects of the wines and region. It’s everything you need to know in a very digestible format.
Part two moves on to give an in-depth exploration of the regions of Champagne in its entirety, pinpointing each village and the hallmarks of its grapes and subsequent wines due to the distinct terroir of each area and vineyard, as well as wines to look out for. It’s an extensive read, and given the nature of wine and the impact of the terroir, is an inspired way to break it down – allowing for a deeper understanding of why the wines taste and differ the way they do.
The final part, and perhaps my favourite, gives a portrait of the people – the growers, winemakers and estates who have arduously worked to continuously keep Champagne on the map. It’s a fascinating read and one that gives life to the wines, making the champagnes so much more than the delicious effervescent liquid and tasting notes.
Housed in a gorgeously presented box-set, containing reproductions of 1944 Louis Larmat maps – the most detailed of the region ever produced – and glorious photography throughout, Liem paints a vivid picture of the landscape and the people in a very personal way that is only possible to do from the inside.