UPDATE - 1ST MAY
The campaign is going well, one week to go and another stretch to reach the new taget of £20,000. Meantime, please check out the latest update and you can download a pdf with sample contents and a sample chapter here.
UPDATE - 25TH APRIL
The target is met - thanks for all the wonderful support! But now I need to stretch the total upwards - aiming for a new target of £20,000 - please read the latest update.
What better way to follow my award-winning Kickstarter-funded book Jura Wine, than with a companion book called Savoie Wine? But, I decided to go one better and to be more inclusive, hence my new book project is named Wines of the French Alps – Wines from Savoie, Bugey and beyond, with local food and travel tips.
At last I've come home (or rather to my second home in the French Alps) to write about these under-the-radar French mountain wines that have been in my glass regularly for over 25 years. They have simply become more delicious as the years pass and are truly wines for today – light, flavourful and often from refreshingly obscure grapes.
Will you help me ensure that my Wines of the French Alps book can be published to the same standard as Jura Wine?
A little background
Three years ago, I self-published Jura Wine, which in 2013 had received more funding through Kickstarter than any other wine book at that time. It was a massive project for me, but I made it, delivering the rewards on time. My hard work paid off with some glowing reviews and prestigious rewards: The book was shortlisted for Best Book in the Louis Roederer Wine Writers' Awards, only pipped to the post by Jon Bonné's acclaimed The New California Wine. Then, I cracked it, winning the 2014 André Simon Food & Drink Best Drinks Book award – a very proud moment. The book has sold well for a niche wine book and in 2015 I printed a revised edition. I've sold about 3,000 copies to wine lovers and professionals in over 40 countries.
In 2014/15 I took a break from book writing to work for nine months as acting editor of the magazine at Wine-Searcher.com (for whom I still write freelance) and since then I have worked as editor of the Circle of Wine Writers magazine, along with a return to freelance writing.
Now I've cleared the decks to write Wines of the French Alps and to immerse myself in this latest, huge project.
What's the story behind the wines from Savoie, Bugey and beyond?
The French Alps attract millions of holiday-makers each year both for winter sports and to experience the thrills offered by the dramatic mountains, forested hillsides, crystalline lakes and intense green pastures. The cows, sheep and goats on these flower-filled Alpine pastures give the milk used to make some of France's most distinctive cheeses, among them Beaufort and Reblochon. But there are wines too, until recently drunk almost exclusively in the region.
On south-facing slopes above the glacial valleys and below forests and craggy mountainsides lie the vineyards, planted with a range of fascinating grape varieties, many unique to their region.
The growth of winter sports actually saved the wines of Savoie from oblivion. Although there were vineyards in Savoie since Roman times, disease, increased competition and the sheer difficulties of growing vines on a mountainside had almost wiped out the vineyards and producers. But the revival started in a small way in the 1950s and by the 1980s a few top quality producers began to emerge. Now a new generation of winegrowers is really showing what the region has to offer – a gamut of flavours and a lightness of touch that suits today's wine palate.
Alongside a growing number of Savoie wines listed in restaurants and wine stores in New York, London and beyond, are wines from the autonomous appellation area of Bugey and from scattered vineyards in Isère – both regions are neighbours to Savoie, but with their own stories to tell. Further south are the rare high-altitude wines from Hautes-Alpes, and west of there the almost frivolous, but very much Alpine sparkling Clairette de Die is produced on the Alpine foothills of the Diois.
Mountain people don't tend to be the best at marketing to the outside world. They rather expect the world to come to visit them. Of course, everyone would love to travel to the French Alps and breathe in that fresh, mountain air while discovering the wines and cheeses. But the reality is, it's not always possible…
There is a dearth of information about these vineyard regions in English – even the little that has been written about in French is either out of date or extremely generic, sponsored by the regions concerned. It's time to fill that gap. Will you help provide the financial boost and the motivation for me to push Wines of the French Alps out on the market this year?
Discover the Wines of the French Alps through my new book
Wines of the French Alps will share the stories behind the labels. It will put the wine regions in their context of history, geography and geology. The book will uncover why so many grape varieties and vineyards were lost in the passage of time and tell about their revival to make quality wines, full of mountain lightness and flavour. It will reveal the characteristics and wines of Persan, Verdesse, Mollard and other rare grapes and argue why it's high time to elevate the worthy Mondeuse and Altesse varieties to world-class status.
The largest section of my book will explore what's happening in each of these Alpine regions today. It will lead you through the important villages and introduce you to their excellent vignerons. Twenty years ago there were only a couple of dozen vignerons across all these Alpine regions that were worth considering in terms of quality. This book will tell the story of over 120 vignerons and explore their wines.
The multitude of flavours and wine styles from Savoie deserve their place in cellars beyond the ski slopes. Contrary to the myth that mountain wines are all made to drink in their youth, I've enjoyed Altesse and Bergeron whites, and Mondeuse and Persan reds that are hardly reaching their peak at five years old – their potential gets ever greater as vignerons pay more attention to sustainability and organics in the vineyards and use less intervention in the cellar.
Neighbouring Bugey has some catching up to do, but a handful of vignerons are leading the quality charge with their fresh whites and mouth-filling reds and the region should be considered separately from Savoie. The sparkling wines from Bugey, in particular the semi-sweet rosé Cerdon, are much underrated as are the best, grapey Clairette de Die Methode Ancéstrale wines from further south. Isère, Hautes-Alpes and the Diois offer some intriguing Alpine wines and these will emerge to greater importance in the future, for sure.
The book will include chapters on local foods, notably the amazing cheeses, hams and lake fish, along with the classic local dishes (anyone say fondue?) and how to pair them with the wines. The other drinks of the region, especially Chartreuse, Vermouth and the local mineral waters will also be mentioned in order to give a complete palette of French Alpine gastronomy. For those wishing to visit the region, there will be a small section highlighting the best places to stay, eat and shop close to the wine regions.
A word about the rewards
However much you pledge, thank you! Your name will appear in the book's acknowledgements.
The main reward is of course, the book. You can pledge for one book (with a limited number at a very special price, 20% below launch price) or for five books to be sent to the same address – a very good value option too. Each book sold singly will be signed. If you don't have a copy of Jura Wine, or want another then you can pledge for a package, with both books signed (this is strictly limited to the first 80 pledges - UPDATE 28th April - this is sold out, I have added a new reward for the 2 books at a slightly higher price to help with a re-print for Jura Wine). Packing/despatch is subsidised. The pledge amount includes delivery in the UK and France – there's an extra fee for delivery elsewhere. Note that although the book will eventually be available on Amazon through marketplace, I won't allow discounts for at least a year post-publication, so best to kick-in now for your copy!
I'm an experienced presenter and would love to share with you the stories about the wines and food from my beloved French Alps, with samples too of course. You can kick in for me to host an event for you and your colleagues and friends next year, once the book is out. Please contact me about these events before pledging, to make sure you know what's included in your pledge amount.
If you want to visit the French Alps wine regions, there's a very good value reward for you, where I will help you plan your trip through a series of personalised phone calls and emails. And, if you can make the time for a trip in 2018 or 2019, planned and led by me, then there are some options for you too. Please contact me about these trips, before pledging, to make sure you know what I am offering you.
At the time of launching, the dollar and the euro are very strong compared to the British Pound - pledge, to take advantage!
(Note: this time around I'm not adding an award offering an e-book because the logistics last time were just too difficult. But, there may be an e-book in future.)
An independently-funded book produced professionally
Like my last book, Wines of the French Alps will be the first comprehensive book in English covering wines of these regions. I'm happy to say the wine regions are fully supportive of my project, but not financially contributing to it, which would compromise my independence. Vin de Savoie, Vin du Bugey and Clairette de Die have all helped me with accommodation during some of my visits to the region and will continue to assist in the next few months. I'm hugely grateful for their support. The vignerons of the tiny Hautes-Alpes and Isère vignerons have been more than welcoming too. In Savoie, the vignerons – some of whom I've known for over 20 years – are as excited as I am that at last I will write a book about the region – the first comprehensive book in English.
The specification for this book will be:
- 352 pages: 130-150,000 words
- Professionally edited by Maggie Ramsay, an expierienced wine book editor, who has edited many of Oz Clarke's books
- 200+ colour photographs by Mick Rock, Brett Jones and local professionals
- 12+ maps, designed for the book by Quentin Sadler
- Designed by Jane Dixon-Smith, who designed Jura Wine
- Printed by Dolman Scott Ltd, printers for Jura Wine
Where will my Kickstarter money go?
1) Approximately 10% goes to Kickstarter as commission and credit card fees + VAT (fair enough!). This includes the extra shipping fees.
2) I have to reserve sufficient funds for shipping and packaging costs to send the book around the world.
3) The larger rewards (travel itinerary, tasting event, trips in the vineyards) require considerable amounts of time to prepare and fulfil.
4) Depending how much I receive, most of the balance will go towards producing the books professionally: paying my experienced wine editor (it takes time to edit 150,000 words), my map designer (a real labour of love even if I pay him), expenses for my photographers (more labours of love) and the printing – everyone was thrilled by the quality of printing of Jura Wine. It will also go to improving my website, where I sell the book.
5) Anything left-over begins to pay me back for the huge travel and living expenses I continue to spend visiting the producers in the region… I may live part-time in Haute-Savoie, but the closest vineyard is 45 minutes' drive away and most of the wine regions are at least 60 miles away via twisting Alpine roads.
Do you need more convincing?
1) Did you watch the video above? There's more to convince you there.
2) Have you read the reviews about my award-winning Jura Wine book? One of my favourites was from Eric Asimov of the New York Times: 'Jura in eastern France has become an unlikely cult region among the wine vanguard. Yet little has been written about it, which makes Wink Lorch's Jura Wine crucial. It's a complete yet concise, politely opinionated guide to this region and its captivating wines and food'.
It's a tall order, but I aim to emulate the success of my last book – your encouragement would help hugely.
3) Soon you will be able to read a short introductory chapter – The Wine Regions in Context – on my website Wine Travel Media. It will be laid out with photographs and a map. And I will add a detailed contents list too. As a supporter, you will be alerted by Kickstarter updates.
I look forward to receiving your pledges and in return, I pledge to create an original and high quality wine book, to sit proudly on your wine book shelf next to the copy of Jura Wine. Thank you!
Risks and challenges
I've done this once before with the Jura Wine book, but the biggest challenge for me is actually completing the research, the writing and the editing of this book, ready to send to print in six months time in October. Your support and pledges towards this project will really motivate me to get it finished and do a fantastic job.
The greatest risk is that I, someone close to me or a member of my team is incapacitated in some way. But, I sincerely hope that won't happen.
Rest assured whatever happens, I am a good communicator. And I will keep in touch with all of you who have kindly supported this project with pledges, letting you know of any problems that occur along the way. If indeed they do. I look forward to sharing with you the progress instead.
Now, to work! And my sincere thanks to you for reading, for sharing this to your own networks, and for your pledges of support.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)