What the book contains
Alongside a detailed account of Bordeaux history, shaped by the different nationalities taking ownership of estates over the centuries, the book also looks at modern trends. It highlights winemakers leading the way in organic viticulture and the revival of rare grape varieties, for instance.
It indexes more than 800 of the region’s estates with Anson’s own ranking system, too.
However, a core focus for the book is terroir and, specifically, how vineyard sites affect the wines – an aspect of Bordeaux that has sometimes been overlooked in the past.
Anson writes that the intention was to ‘start assessing Bordeaux in the way that we more typically do for other fine wine regions, such as Burgundy, Barolo, the northern Rhône – by its soils, and by how these individual soils react to different growing conditions year on year.’
Anson adds, ‘For many years, Bordeaux’s vineyard owners and managers simply “knew” that certain plots of land made better wine that others. Today’s generation of winemakers, consultants and scientists are no longer content to rely simply on intuition and the (still essential) knowledge stored in old ledgers and records.
‘They no longer want to concede to Burgundy the moral high ground on terroir, and are determined to prove that the concept in Bordeaux is not something frozen in 1855, and that instead the interplay between grape, soil, climate and man is becoming ever more refined.’
There is chapter of the book dedicated to Bordeaux terroirs, although soil types and climate are regularly referenced within individual appellation overviews and châteaux entries.
Anson also offers practical ways to interpret this information when it comes to purchasing decisions.
In particular, Inside Bordeaux draws on ground-breaking research into terroir profiling by experts at the University of Bordeaux, and includes 65 full colour maps, including sets in gatefolds (a first for wine publishing) depicting Bordeaux topographies.
‘It’s not to say I did all the work – the book could not have been done without the expertise of Professor Kees van Leeuwen, who has created more than 65 entirely new maps that show, among other things, the terroirs of the region,’ Anson writes.
‘I am thrilled with the result – it looks beautiful for a start, with a simple clean layout and brilliantly accessible gatefold maps that set out different views of Bordeaux in a highly digestible manner. And I feel so happy to showcase what is new and exciting in a region that doesn’t often get recognised for its dynamism.’
She adds, ‘The producers making exciting wines in smaller appellations, the trailblazers in organics or biodynamics, and the conversations about how climate change is affecting the region; I loved looking into all of these things and hopefully moving the conversation forward about Bordeaux as a whole.’
The book includes 20 appellation overviews, providing a summary of that area’s history and wine profile, and a list of key facts and figures. These include the communes, average annual productions and average size of the châteaux, key terroir types, appellation rules, grape varieties and new developments.