Land and Wine: The French Terroir

Author(s): Charles Frankel


For centuries, France has been the world'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 wine'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 book's twelve chapters each focus in depth on a different region, including the Loire Valley, Alsace, Burgundy, Champagne, Provence, the Rhone Valley, and Bordeaux, to explore the full meaning of terroir.
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 of Burgundy as the vines progress upslope; and how the soil of each chateau 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 informed gourmand will find much to savor in this fun guide that Frankel has spiked with anecdotes about winemakers and historic wine enthusiasts-revealing which kings, poets, and philosophers liked which wines best-while offering travel tips and itineraries for visiting the wineries today.


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"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 Cote-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)"

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 and Worlds on Fire.

General Fields

  • : 9780226014692
  • : 24015
  • : University of Chicago Press
  • : February 2014
  • : 60mm X 90mm
  • : United States
  • : April 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 264
  • : Hardback
  • : Charles Frankel