Book Review: The Wine Atlas of Australia and Australian Wine Encyclopedia

Wine Atlas of Australia
Wine Atlas of Australia Piemonte Wine and Travel Atlas

Halliday has been Australia's leading wine authority for an eternity.

His career spans 40 years, both writing about and making wine. There are few living legends in wine writing, but it is safe to say that Halliday is one.

The new Wine Atlas is a beautiful tome, with stunning maps which work far more accurately for a wine tourist than any other cartographical aid. There are neat summations of each region and some of their key wineries. It is a shame not all the wineries on each map have a write-up (Skillogalee, in Clare, makes awesome wines and has a superb restaurant and cellar door, and McLaren Vale's Kay Bros Amery and St Hallett in Barossa surely warrant a paragraph), but including every estate might overbalance the book.

Having said this, I'd have hoped for a more critical, useful choice of wineries.  There are a few omissions in the text, too - the acquisition of Seppeltsfield by Kilikanoon (and others) in 2007, or Rob Mann joining Cape Mentelle years ago - so the book feels a little out of date. I'm still wondering why Corrina Rayment's photo appears in the Coonawarra section, not in McLaren Vale as winemaker of Oliver's Taranga (who aren't mentioned), but these are just a few gripes.

The photography is incredible and the size of the book helps set these images off perfectly, capturing Australia's vastness and beauty in style.  Web addresses are also an excellent inclusion. But if you already have the 2006 Mitchell Beazley-published version of this book, I can't see much reason to buy this ‘new' one. It appears identical, save for a few tweaks. Far from being a new book, the Wine Atlas is a very slightly updated version of Halliday's tour de force, published four years ago, for which it was suitably lauded.

The Australian Wine Encyclopedia is a new book with no photos at all. The subtle, two-colour design is meant to allow you to read the book smoothly while cross-referencing with ease, but I found it a little too pale. Aside from this, it is well written and stuffed full of information.

Kay Bros Amery is in this one, yet Peter Gago (winemaker of Penfolds Grange and probably Australia's most famous winemaker) isn't. Some of the information seems dated, but in other places it is up to speed. If you want the history and behind-the-scenes detail on the Australian wine world, this will help enormously. Halliday's huge depth of knowledge is proudly on display here and it is hard not to marvel at his huge experience. While it lacks the maps that would have bought it all to life, this is a solid book for serious Aussie wine fans.

Both The Wine Atlas of Australia and Australian Wine Encyclopedia are published by Hardie Grant Books

Wine Videos

The latest wine videos and interviews from around the wine world