16th August 2005

Going to the Midi? Packed the maps, the sun-screen, the Euros?
Then spend a mere 10 of those Euros (£7) on this marvellous little book. It will change your life (well, that bit of it you spend in Faugeres).

'Faugeres - A Guide to the Appellation', Michael Meadowcroft, Elizabeth Bee. Beecroft Publications, Waterloo Lane, Leeds. Tel: 0113 257 6232.

For the price of a bottle of wine, no traveller to that region of the Languedoc called Faugeres should be without this self-published book. Indeed, travellers from the UK should be stopped at the border and asked if they are going anywhere near Beziers. If the answer is yes and they cannot produce a copy of this book, then they should be sent back (I am assuming that the authors have not the clout, though Mr Meadowcroft is an ex-MP, to organise a sales outlet next door to la Douane).

This book on a small Appellation in southern France is utterly without peer. It is modest in literary style but all the better for that for the nub of the book are the addresses and lowdown on the producers, less than 40, and this information is valuable. The shopper intent on the sassiest bottles for his camp fire can do no better than this book, likewise the fellow with the large Volvo and capacious boot intent upon filling the latter with bottles. And the book's value lies not just in the priceless info but its refusal to be clichéd and unlike some mountebanks who publish their own wine books it is critical where necessary. It is  not a stupid paean of praise for a select region. It is an appraisal; done with love for the region, true, but accomplished without saccharine, anodyne, hollow words of sycophantic warmth aimed more at making the producers feel good than any traveller and wine shopper.

I read and review a lot of wine books. This one achieved the rare distinction of giving me an appetite for its subject and a thirst to revisit the area.

Malcolm Gluck