This classic reference book, first published by Hugh Johnson in 1971, is now available in 16 languages, with 4.7 million copies of previous editions having been sold. In tell- ing us where wine grapes are grown, it is an essential and unrivaled part of every wine lover’s library. It is also a natural companion to Robinson, Harding, and Vouillamoz’s (2012) seminal book on which varieties are grown commercially (Wine Grapes, reviewed in JWE, Vol. 8(2), 2013), as well as to Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine (the fifth edition of which will appear in 2022).
A better understanding of the geography and terroir of each region helps the con- sumer identify where tonight’s bottle came from. For newcomers to wine, the first 40 pages of the book cover wine’s history, how vines are grown, how wine is made, and how it is consumed. Just as important, the Atlas helps vignerons assess their place in the ever-evolving wine world. This book is thus also for them, as well as others just wishing to keep up to date with where the world’s vignerons are located.
The Atlas has been revised every six or so years since it first appeared, with Jancis Robinson joining the project beginning in 2001. If you already have an earlier edition, should you indulge in this new one? For anyone who refers at least occasionally to it, the answer is almost certainly “yes.” It is worth its modest price for the new set of spectacular photos and unique colored topographical maps alone. As well, much has changed since the 7th edition came out in 2013, including a greater focus on soils, climate change, and more-sustainable methods of production, a greater interest in less-familiar varieties better suited to a warming, drier climate, and a broader range of wine styles. While diversification away from the best-known international wine- grape varieties does not show up in the world’s bearing area statistics yet, the increas- ing export focus of many producers in many countries ensures wine consumers—for whom this Atlas is produced—have never had such a wide range of wines to choose from in terms of region or sub-region of origin, grape variety, wine style, quality, and price (Anderson and Nelgen, 2021).
The text and many of the maps have been revised for this edition, and the maps are color-coded to identify sub-regions or various qualities within each region. For major regions, their maps are accompanied by small boxes of basic information on the latitude, elevation, two climate variables, and the top two or three varieties grown. Those readers looking for more-detailed varietal and climate information on any of more than 700 of the world’s wine regions can turn to a freely available compendium (Anderson and Nelgen, 2020). For the convenience of Atlas readers, that compendium includes a concordance table linking its regional names with those used in the Atlas.
Unsurprisingly, France still fills the first 100 pages. It is followed by Italy (35 pages), Germany (25), Spain (20), Portugal (15), and the rest of Europe (40). Thus, the so-called Old World comprises two-thirds of the map pages—which is almost exactly their share of global wine production and exports. The New World (North America, South America, Australia/New Zealand, and South Africa) make up the next 100 pages, and Asia (Japan and China) is given 6 pages and 5 maps. The final 25 pages contain a very detailed index and a Gazetteer to help the reader find, for example, the map with their favorite chateau.
Anderson, K., and Nelgen, S. (2020). Which Winegrape Varieties are Grown Where? A Global Empirical Picture (Revised Edition). Adelaide: University of Adelaide Press. Freely available as an e-book at www.adelaide.edu.au/press/titles/winegrapes.
Anderson, K., and Nelgen, S. (2021). Internationalization, premiumization, and diversity of the world’s winegrape varieties. Journal of Wine Research, 32(4), 247–261.
Robinson, J., Harding, J., and Vouillamoz, J. (2012). Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours. London: Allen Lane.