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Robert E White

Oxford University Press, £25.99

The word on every French winemaker's lips is terroir, meaning the complete natural environment in which their grapes are grown, and which includes such factors as soil, topography and climate.

Knowledge has been amassed traditionally through centuries of experience and trial and error to produce that goût de terroir, the tang of the soil – the characteristic taste and flavour that identifies a particular wine. With the immense expansion of winemaking throughout the New World and beyond, the search for suitable soils and climates for grape growing is now widespread. Few new sites offer ideal conditions on their own, and the soils need to be chosen carefully and modified frequently for each of the many grape varieties.

In recognition of these complexities, Robert White explains vineyard soil science in detail from many angles: how soils are formed, and the important aspects to consider when choosing a site, such as climate, water availability, soil texture and biology, and the balance of minerals needed for optimum growth.

Each topic is developed in depth in this searching and thorough treatise, which provides an excellent reference text for professionals and amateurs alike.

Dr Graham Godfrey CBiol FRSB