Winner of the 2018 James Beard Foundation Cookbook Award in "Reference, History, Scholarship"
Winner of the 2017 André Simon Drink Book Award
Winner of the 2018 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Cookbook Award for "Wine, Beer & Spirits"
From Peter Liem, the lauded expert behind the top-rated online resource ChampagneGuide.net, comes this groundbreaking guide to the modern wines of Champagne--a region that in recent years has undergone one of the most dramatic transformations in the wine-growing world. This luxurious box set includes a pullout tray with a complete set of seven vintage vineyard maps by Louis Larmat, a rare and indispensable resource that beautifully documents the region’s terroirs. With extensive grower and vintner profiles, as well as a fascinating look at Champagne’s history and lore,
Champagne explores this legendary wine as never before.
"This is a welcome, essential guide that succeeds in transporting our understanding of Champagne into the 21st century."
—Eric Asimov, New York Times
"I''m in awe of what Peter Liem has put together in his aptly named book,
Champagne. There are enough facts, stories, details, and historical anecdotes here to keep anyone engaged, from the casual drinker to the champagne collector. This will be one of the definitive books on Champagne for many years to come."
—Daniel Humm, chef/co-owner of Eleven Madison Park, The NoMad, and Made Nice
"For Champagne lovers—and all wine lovers—here’s the book that changes everything. Peter Liem deftly tells the story of the real people and places that define one of the world’s most important wine regions. With impeccable scholarship and detail, he redefines Champagne as a living, breathing place, one in the midst of glorious transformation. This is sure to become an essential reference for one of the world’s most beloved wines."
—Jon Bonne, author of The New California Wine
"I''ve known Peter for twenty years and his commitment to wine education through his writing is unrivaled in the industry. This book is a culmination of his commentary on every vineyard he has walked, every glass he has raised, and every relationship he has cultivated since he moved to Champagne. This is not only an incredible reference book for the region but also a refreshingly beautiful tome."
—Rajat Parr, Sandhi Wines and author of Secrets of the Sommeliers
Champagne is assuredly among the most important references to this captivating region. It is more than a tome for experts, however, and will prove an invaluable introduction to the curious novice as well. It delves satisfyingly into the back story, explaining thoroughly yet in a highly-readable fashion the reasons for the great diversity of styles that one finds in Champagne today. Liem tackles the big issues in the region with diplomacy and insight and leaves the reader with a deep appreciation for the complexity of champagne. Of particular note are his well-chosen appreciations of single cru and single vineyard wines in each sub-region, and his affectionate yet discerning profiles in the final section of the book. This is required reading for the dedicated fan and curious novice alike. Bravo!”
—Charles Curtis MW
"With Peter Liem’s book the literature of Champagne takes a leap into a new level of knowledge and understanding. Written in this author''s transparent, delicate prose, the effect is like a lazy balloon ride over the whole Champagne landscape, all of its hills and vineyards, and the wonderful people who work them. Peter Liem is a judicious taster and a clear thinker, and I predict that we who love Champagne will wonder how we ever did without this book.”
—Terry Thiese, author and importer
"Liem has written a beautiful book, focusing on champagne not as a luxury tipple but as serious wine, expressive of the place where it is grown rather than the lifestyle of the person drinking it."
—Dave McIntyre, The Washington Post
"Get the flutes out: There''s only one way to go about exploring this deep resource, and that''s with a glass of bubbly in hand. It''s complete with vintage vineyard maps, tips on serving and storage, and an in-depth look at the producers of the drink behind every engagement, birthday party and New Year''s celebration."
—Abby Reisner, Tasting Table
PETER LIEM is an American wine writer and the author of ChampagneGuide.net. Following nearly a decade in the wine trade, he was a senior editor, critic, and tasting director for
Wine & Spirits, and his writings on sherry, champagne, and other wines have also appeared in publications such as
The World of Fine Wine,
The Art of Eating, and
The San Francisco Chronicle.
I enjoyed my fair share of champagne as a young wine professional, but the first magical champagne, the one that really pushed the boundaries of what I thought champagne could be, was the 1979 Salon. I tasted it in 1996 at the wine store in San Francisco where I worked: we were selling the 1979 for $99, which was expensive for the time, but not nearly as prohibitively priced as the same bottle would be today.
Most champagnes are blended wines, which offer a multifaceted harmony, with diverse components coming together to create a complex whole. In contrast, the Salon, which comes exclusively from one village—Le Mesnil-sur-Oger—felt distinctly narrower in scope yet no less complete. Tasting it, I immediately knew it was different than any champagne I’d had before, and I was filled with questions: Where was Le Mesnil? Why did its wine taste this way? Did all Le Mesnil champagnes taste like this? And perhaps even more importantly, if the Salon was indicative of Le Mesnil, what did champagnes from other villages taste like?
The contemporary movement in Champagne is more than the rise of grower estates, or the reduction of dosage, or the creation of single-vineyard wines, or the practice of organic and biodynamic viticulture. All these things are emblematic of Champagne today, yet they are reflective of a larger transformation, which is, rather simply, the acknowledgment of champagne as a wine like any other. While both consumers and producers were content in the recent past to treat champagne as a brand, or as an object of lifestyle, or as an entity in the wine world that was somehow less serious than Burgundy or Barolo, the prevailing attitudes have shifted, at least in the arenas that matter. Champagne is now subject to the same questions asked of any other wine and held to the same standards—and now that it’s being held accountable, it must provide satisfactory answers.
One of the primary functions of a truly fine wine, no matter where it comes from, is to say something about the place where it was grown. Terroir is a subject that hasn’t been adequately explored in Champagne, and yet, it plays a fundamental role in the creation of the wine’s character, just as it does in any other wine region. It’s for this reason that I’ve focused on terroir as the theme of this book.
It is still not yet possible to write a comprehensive analysis of Champagne’s terroir, given the lack of tools and information available compared with other historic regions. However, it’s my hope that this book can in some small way help to push the dialogue further toward acknowledging champagne as a terroir-expressive wine, and to provide a foundation for envisioning that. The complexities of that discussion are still to be revealed as champagne continues to evolve, and that is part of what makes Champagne such an exciting wine region today.