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Book review: Wine Travel Guide to the World by Robert Joseph

Hatten Wines of Indonesia employs Vincent Desplat, formerly of Chateau Clarke, as a consultant, and Taiwan's glitterati gather at a wine bar called Champagne Thr3e.

The eminently browsable Wine Travel Guide to the World is full of this sort of inside dope.

Anyone in the wine business knows the author, Robert Joseph, as a garrulously well-informed sort of bloke – and here he’s managed to distil 25 years’ worth of buzzing around the wine world into 384 of densely-packed pages.

The Wine Travel Guide to the World is a superbly-organised book covering (I think) just about anywhere on the planet that produces wine, from Thailand to Jersey, and anywhere – like Scandinavia – where wine is consumed enthusiastically enough to support restaurants with high-end wine lists.

In its glossy pages (of which more later) you can find out opening times of wineries in Cambodia, Stellenbosch, Mumbai, Sussex, Friuli or Burgundy.

You will know whether such-and-such a restaurant is suitable for children or not, if this place sells direct to visitors and if the other has a spa attached.

Handy ‘Factfile’ boxes drop detailed nuggets into the conversation: about German wine auctions and the effect of ultraviolet light on grapes, the ‘serious surf’ just south of Cadiz, and the relationship between Peruvian Pisco and Bolivian Singani.

Other boxes list best producers, licensing hours, minimum drinking ages and drink-drive restrictions.

And just as the test of a tasting note is, does it make you want to drink the wine?, the test of a travel book is, does it make you want to beam yourself to that very location?

This one hits the mark. The picture of Smith Haut Lafitte in the snow (a thumbnail – merely incidental) sets my feet itching, and even the one of Jacob’s Creek makes me want to splash through it (though the last time I saw the famous Creek it didn’t look anything like a babbling brook in the English Lakes).

The photography is luscious and seductive, and it’s a pity such production values didn’t extend to the maps. There just aren’t enough of them, and the chapter-openers lack detail.

So while the entries, the keys, the explanations and the factboxes are practical, the lack of good maps is a bar to the book’s claim to a place in the suitcase as opposed to on the coffee-table.

But it’s a shiny, high-production book. It weighs at least two kilos, so it’s hardly aimed at the backpacker market. If you’re in a car, or someone else is carrying your luggage, pack a copy.

You’ll never be stuck for a wine-related visit – or for a wine-related nugget to impart over the dinner table.

Wine Travel Guide to the World by Robert Joseph, published by Footprint Books in association with Montana Wines, 384 pages, £19.99 (UK), $29.95 (US)

Written by Adam Lechmere

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