Savoie Can’t Wait: Setting a Spring Date
The book has been progressing these past six months, but not at all at the rate I had hoped. I had underestimated many things that seem, during these months, to have been beyond my ability to control*.
Until now I haven’t dared update you with a publishing date and even now, I’m nervous about committing to a date. But, I’m very aware how much this book is needed for you and for the wine world as a whole. The increased distribution and sales of Savoie wines on export markets, and the recent excellent 2018 vintage, means the time is more than right for this book to appear. And, trust me, I want it finished too.
In case you don’t want to read on I will cut to the quick: I am estimating a publication date at the end of April next year (2019), so I will request names to go in the book and delivery addresses via a Kickstarter survey in late January. Delivery addresses will then be collated so that once the book goes to print in mid-late March, preparation for swift despatch after printing can be made.
* Something that I’ve now learnt is known as widow’s fog or widow’s brain (no ideal link, but it’s out there, folks, and lasts an indeterminate length of time…) has hampered my ability to work efficiently; I had also underestimated how much of what I had already written or researched had to be updated and refined, most especially the technical part of the book, which I wanted to complete first; I had also perhaps not appreciated enough how much, in both life and work, my late partner Brett helped me day to day.
More pages for your money
Due to the intricacies of the technical chapters, and the fact that I kept finding more producers to include, I have allowed a further 16 pages for the book, taking it up to 368. I could not add 32 pages, because this risks pushing the book weight including book wrapper over one kilo, which would put it into a different band for mailing. These are just some of the practicalities a self-publisher has to consider.
The progress broken down
Part two, the technical part, is now written, edited and with the designer. It encompasses the appellations (complicated with five regions in all); an overview of the terroir and climate; a detailed look at the grape varieties and wine styles from them (perhaps the most important chapter in the book, including profiles on 38 varieties, plus mention of other very rare grapes, being rehabilitated); the challenges of growing vines on the Alpine foothills; and making the wines, along with a specific chapter about sparkling wines, including a detailed look at the Méthode Ancestrale. There are some intricate maps and diagrams, as well as pertinent photographs – it has taken an immense amount of time to get these all together and I predict that other sections will go much quicker than this one.
Part four covering the main local cheeses, other local foods, spirits and other drinks, and a list of local places to stay, shop, visit and eat is currently at the editing stage.
Part one, the historical part, with a look at various movements that influenced the region is partly written, and part three, the most important and longest section on producers and places, is also well underway with Bugey and Isère almost done. About 120 producers will be profiled – they have all been visited at least once.
A few summer and autumn visits/tastings
The relatively few visits I have done this year have focussed on either the smaller regions I know less, important producers who I had only visited once, and a handful of new-to-me vignerons. There is a welcoming increase of younger and/or new producers setting up in Bugey and Savoie in particular, and most of them are starting off organic. Just two who impressed are Jérémy Decoster of Les Cortis in southern Bugey and Sylvain Liotard of Domaine des 13 Lunes in Apremont, Savoie.
En route to a short visit in Hautes-Alpes and the Diois, I stopped to visit Samuel Delus of the tiny Domaine de l’Obiou in the remote and gorgeous Trièves region of Isère and fell in love with this obscure spot for a second time. The renaissance or revival of vine-growing in areas where there were once hundreds, if not thousands of hectares of vines continues to fascinate. Back at my Haute-Savoie base, one Sunday afternoon I was able to see a brand-new vineyard just 30 minutes’ drive from my home, almost on the outskirts of Annecy; and there are two other nearby projects – one on the slopes below the magnificent Château Menthon-St-Bernard. I plan to give these vineyard areas space in the book, but necessarily limited as their wines either don’t exist yet or are in the order of just hundreds of bottles. It keeps me excited, though.
Pre-sales and a little sparkling rosé story
My website has been updated, although with a few glitches still to iron out. Wines of the French Alps is available for pre-sale for those who didn’t get the chance to Kick-In or who want more copies. There is also a package with the Jura Wine book. I’ve switched from WorldPay to using Stripe as the secure payment system, which will make things much easier, I hope. And those buying larger quantities at a special price will be given direct access to a page to settle their invoices.
In making the site live, I’ve published an article I wrote for the Circle of Wine Writers journal, something I needed to get out of my system. A Modern Tale of Two Ancestral Rosés tells about a spat between two regions that are the furthest northwest and southwest in the area covered in the book – Bugey-Cerdon and Clairette de Die – it’s a rather sad story but needed to be told.
A hard-working three months ahead
The race to finish the book, without compromising on quality, is on. I will be limiting the celebrations this end of year; there are always other times to celebrate, but I will be skiing when I can this winter to clear my head – I always find the best ideas and solutions when I’m alone on a chairlift in the Alpine air.
May I thank you for your patience and your support – the last thing I wanted was to delay delivery of this book to you by 18 months. And may I wish you, your friends and families a merry Christmas, happy holidays and all best for 2019.