World Atlas of Wine's eighth edition is out

Jacopo Mazzeo

Jacopo Mazzeo

15 October 2019

The eighth edition of the seminal World Atlas of Wine, co-edited by expert duo Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, officially launched last week.

Sommeliers, wine professionals and enthusiasts are now offered the opportunity to study on the most up-to-date depiction of the wine world available on paper.

‘I can report that [the wine] universe is in greater flux that I have ever known it during my 44 years writing about wine,’ said Robinson in the introduction to the new World Atlas of Wine, which in turn features a significant number of new additions and amendments.

The introduction has been completely revamped, accounting for the evolution of modern winemaking and vinegrowing. It features information on less intervention in the winery and on the use of new materials for wine maturation, and a whole new section on the changing climate, which outlines the tactics adopted to overcome the challenges it presents.

The editors have also been receptive to today’s hot topics, such as sustainability, natural wine, orange wine, and wine frauds.

Robinson justified these choices in the introduction: ‘The long-term consequences of overreliance on agrochemicals were becoming all too apparent in the impoverishment of our solis and the loss of wildlife… Hand in hand with this,' she continued, 'came an increasing distaste for what was seen as manipulation in the cellar. If heavy-handed oak and high-alcohol, deep-coloured, overripe wines were now out of fashion, then surely light, fresh, crisp, pale wines with zero chemical additions might be just the job, was the argument.’

The 416 pages of the World Atlas of Wine’s eighth edition reflect the revolutionary changes and developments that wine has undergone in recent years

On the other hand, whole sections such as the Anatomy of the Winery dropped out altogether: ‘We felt that the vast illos of a winery didn’t really add much to the very detailed explanations of how wine is made,’ Robinson told Imbibe, ‘and inevitably if you choose just one winery, it incorporates some singularities which don’t apply universally. Also, there was just SO much to get into the intro…’

A high number of Old World regions have been given new maps, such as Jura and Savoie in France, Campania's Avellino province in Italy and Sherry in Spain, however ‘the regions or countries that deserved new pages tend to be [from the] New World [and the Middle East], because the Old World has already been covered pretty well’, Robinson explained.

Therefore, brand new pages have been given to Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel, British Columbia, St Helena, Brazil, and Uruguay, while extra space has been allocated to Alentejo, California's Central Coast, Chile, Australia's Yarra Valley, Merlborough and China.

Despite the high number of new additions, Robinson admitted that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to squeeze the entire world of wine into one single tome. She predicts that in the next edition ‘there may be a spread on sustainability in wine production, a map of the Azores, and also perhaps one of northern Europe, showing where the vineyards are in Benelux, Denmark and Sweden. Possibly Finland and Norway by then’.

The 416 pages of the World Atlas of Wine’s eighth edition reflect the revolutionary changes and developments that wine has undergone in recent years and as such should be a key reference material for any sommelier, wine professional or any amateur serious about their passion.

These are exciting times to work in the wine industry: ‘There are fields where progress is gradual,’ wrote co-editor Johnson in the foreword, ‘but the wine world in the past half-century has been a maelstrom of change.’

The eighth edition of the World Atlas of Wine is published by Octupus Publishing Group and has a cover price of £50.

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