What I know of Champagne is purely by obligation. In sommelier studies and other wine courses, given its dominance in the sparkling wine world, Champagne is required knowledge and I know as much as it needed for both professional and friendly needs. Given I live an hour away from Cava country, it is generally my go-to bubbly due to convenience and the fact it’s much better-priced than the Champagne we find in Spain, which is generally comprised of Non Vintage bottles that hardly stir the soul.

That’s why this book by Essi Avellan MW was most welcome. If I had her depth of experience in Champagne and knowledge of the region, this is exactly the book I would have written. I say this not out of hyperbole but the fact that I’ve been writing the same style of books for some time now and the reason being that it’s a format which works very, very well.

So what is this format? Ms. Avellan gives a general lay of the land, makes recommendations of restaurants, places to stay and general ways to approach what is a very vast territory. She then breaks down all the basics of Champagne. It’s actually a very complicated beverage despite the fact that most people just know the brand “Champagne” and think that’s it. Within these sections she adds a bit of her own opinion as well which is always welcome as texts just extolling virtues and not being critical are usually published for free by regional entities. If I’m going to pick up a book by a Master of Wine, I most definitely want to know his or her thoughts.

Then, there is the largest section that profiles a selection of 65 different Champagne houses as well as ratings of their Vintage wines and other bottles. She also rates the estate as well in terms of visit and such. There is a great wealth of information here that I’m sure I’ll keep coming back to, especially the lengthy vintage guide that may be understated in how useful this is to anyone in the wine field.

At this point I usually find things to critique and there’s not much I can pick on as the text is thorough, well written, and the layout is very attractive. The only thing that I could maybe tick against it is having a price of 37€ for a 350 page paperback. Again, having written very similar books, I find it a touch steep but then again, these are specialty publications with small runs and due to this I know it can be hard to price them lower.

In short, if you want a solid reference for Champagne that will serve you well for some years to come, this is your book.


Review copy provided by the publisher

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