Book review: Piemonte Wine and Travel Atlas with Valle d'Aosta and Liguria

Piemonte Wine and Travel Atlas

The Piemonte Wine and Travel Atlas is a bit of a mixed bag: lavishly produced and in parts an almost encyclopaedic work of reference, at the same time it is let down by a rambling structure and clumsy use of language.

The travel part scores well: there are well-researched studies of the history, geography and culture of Piemonte (Valle d'Aosta and Liguria merit, inevitably, much less attention). Lesser-known areas are opened up for the visitor with useful tips on where to go and what to see.

But the book has more appeal for the casual tourist, as the sections dealing with wine are less detailed and convincing, though there are useful guides to obscure grape varieties and lesser known wines.

The narrative flow is often interrupted by fact boxes and (admittedly well-reproduced) photographs - many inserted seemingly at random; similarly, the author has a tendency to rework the same information under different headings.

Nonetheless, Balke does manage to convey something of the flavour that makes this fascinating region unique.

The Piemonte Wine and Travel Atlas with Valle d'Aosta and Liguria is published by the author and is available on www.paulbalke.com

Panel tastings

Wine labels from some of the world's most famous wines