If you are looking for information on the vineyards of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany or the Napa Valley, take a moment: The Wine Explorers’ book doesn’t mention all these famous wine regions, as incredible and beautiful as they are. Because there are already dozens of well written books dealing with the subject. On the other hand, if you want to discover an innovative and 360 degrees vision of the wine planet, immerse yourself in the heart of unique viticultural landscapes, discover unsuspected great wines, meet exceptional winemakers and enrich your knowledge with the latest trends that drive the world of wine... this book is for you! With Wine Explorers, always push the boundaries of wine world...
In its strictest definition, wine is nothing but fermented grape juice. It is universal and it is consumed in all countries of the world.
Wine has no confines and that is perhaps why it is difficult to trace its origins. Its production uses ancestral know-how that has evolved, and which is transmitted over time.
The exact origins of this Dionysiac drink are still undetermined to this day. It fascinates as much as it is are at the heart of all debates.
The first traces of winemaking appeared between the Caucasus and the Middle East about 10,000 years ago. This period corresponds to the Neolithic, when the populations settled down, relying on livestock and agriculture to develop.
Nasser Soumi (1) adroitly said to me: "As science progresses and archaeological excavations advance, the date of the first vinifications on a world scale is constantly being re-evaluated, just as its exact geographical origin".
A sort of endless game of musical chairs, where each country discovering new traces of millenary wine in the bottom of a jar could, in turn, legitimately claim a certain sovereignty.
From this existential questioning came the Wine Explorers project. The result of a crazy little dream: bringing some answers to this question that haunted me. How? By meeting those who make wine all over the world!
The consecration was the publishing of Wine Explorers’ book, the result of 11 years of work: 4 years of research, 2 years of preparation and fundraising, 4 years of cumulative travels in 88 countries, 6 months of data updating and 6 months of writing... in an atypical format because it is not a guide, an atlas or a travel diary, but maybe a little bit of all of those at the same time! This book proposes a new vision of wine and a reflection on its borders, in perpetual evolution.
Yesterday, it was the conquests of new territories, the wars, the diffusion of religions and the extent of the impact of phylloxera, an aphid originating from the United States which ravaged a great part of the world’s vineyards from the end of the 19th century, which wrote the history and geography of wine.
Today, we are pointing at global warming, the creation of varieties resistant to diseases (the famous piwi, acronym for Pilz "mushroom" and Widerstandsfähig "resistant"), more and more modern equipment in the vineyard and in the cellar, consultants in viticulture and oenology more and more solicited, winemakers who travel, share and compare their experiences, and intrepid winemakers who attempt winemaking projects where no one had imagined them possible...
All these factors, and many more, are at the heart of the equation and completely redraw the current wine borders.
Who would have believed, that there still is a little time in the history of wine, that it would enable making quality wine on the 62nd parallel North or by flirting with the symbolic line of the terrestrial equator as in Kenya for example? Not me anyway !
In order to get a global idea of the world wine situation, I explored every wine producing country (2).
Each trip lasted an average of fifteen days and was conducted as objectively as possible, that is to say, regardless of the size, production or even the possible fame of the places we visited.
The main goal was to meet passionate winemakers, representative of their know-how, as well as the official institutions, embassies, professionals of the wine sector and journalists, to collect economical, political, historical, geographical data... and testimonials.
Useful information in order to understand the complexity, the motivations, the stakes and the singularity of each country. Each visit of a winery ended with the tasting of a number of special wines.
Although this book tries to provide a testimony aiming to be the fairest, the most impartial and the most accurate possible, the list of countries is not exhaustive and will be updated regularly. The figures collected come from official sources. However, this data, as reliable as it is, remain estimates and must be seen as such.
For example, it is extremely complicated, even for government institutions, to dissociate vineyards used for the production of wine, from those used for the production of eaux-de-vie or even table grapes.
Finally, in a unifying way, this book has been written for everyone: wine lovers and experts, adventurers and travel lovers, or just curious people. It includes 90 countries, 101 regions, more than 400 photos, nearly 200 maps and roughly 100 infographics.
I hope that you will experience the same amount of joy by reading this first of a kind public journal of sorts as I did by writing it and that you will feel part of the discovery of these very special destinations every step of the way.
May this exploration reveal unknown territories, but above all, stir your curiosity, your thirst for knowledge and your desire of sharing!
WINE EXPLORERS, LE 1ER TOUR DU MONDE DU VIN, Omniscience editions, 336p, 35€ TTC, 23,5 × 23,5 cm, released on Sept. 19th 2019 in French langage.
To find the book in France, nothing is easier:
-go to the closest bookseller from your home and order it;
-or connect to the FNAC to get it online;
From abroad, AMAZON remains the simplest solution.
Finally, to receive an autographed copy, just send me an email and tell me your wish!
(1) Palestinian artist, author of the book L'Olivier & la Palestine – Une passion charnelle (Sindbad, 2010).
(2) With the exception of Syria and Venezuela, for which the geopolitical situation posed significant security risks.
(3) Thanks to journalist Benoist Simmat for recently confirming this information.
[This article is based on the foreword of the book]