In my not-so-humble opinion, the best wine books are those where the author demonstrates three important qualities: a passion for the subject at hand, a deep understanding of the topic and an inviting writing style. Even from the opening few pages of Amber Revolution, it is obvious that Simon J Woolf has all three of these in abundance.
The (main) title of this book might leave even the most wine-literate scratching their heads (“what the heck is ‘amber’?”) but the subtitle makes it clear that this book is about orange wine – a small but important category which has been lauded by many sommeliers and some critics but is still being discovered and appraised by numerous others. A slightly less cryptic “Orange Revolution” would have been somewhat divisive in these parts…
The main narrative of the book is a damn good read. Woolf moves technical notes and references to footnotes so that the text flows well, neither overly technical nor dumbed-down. Side panels for additional information are used judiciously, and Ryan Opaz’s atmospheric photography illustrates what the words cannot. 75 pages of short producer profiles (by country) also serve as a useful reference.
A quick word about the quality of this book – it’s a proper hardback with quality paper and a bound bookmark, very legible text and high resolution images. Woolf’s Morning Claret Productions have done a fantastic job.
As a taster, here are three of the things I learnt from this book:
- Although people look to Georgia and its millennia-old tradition of making orange wine in Qvevri, Soviet rule and subsequent geopolitical difficulties meant that the use of these amphorae had almost died out. Inward investment is now seeing their use increasing significantly, with enough produced to cater for export demand from experimental winemakers overseas.
- One of the pioneers of skin contact wine in Collio – the formidable Joško Gravner – was actually a leading proponent of modern technical winemaking in north east Italy and was very influential amongst his peers – before seeing the (amber) light and choosing a different directions.
- Although new to many palates (mine included), orange wine has a long and distinguished history in north east Italy and adjacent regions – it was employed as a deliberate technique after much trial and error, rather than (as I naively assumed) due to blind adherence to tradition.
There are so many more interesting snippets that I would like to share, but I will leave them for you to discover.
Book available from Morning Claret Productions.
Note: I was proud to be one of the many (388!) people who pledged financial support for this book on the Kickstarter platform, but my opinions remain my own.