Podcast with Jon Bonné, author of The New French Wine
Redefining the World's Greatest Wine Culture
I didn’t expect to be as captivated as I was by The New French Wine: Redefining the World’s Greatest Wine Culture. It’s an immense two-volume book spanning nearly 850 pages, exploring the lush vineyards and wine regions of France with profiles of 800 producers and notes on around 7,000 wines. I’m no wine expert, but as soon as I started reading the first page, I was hooked.
Living in, and writing about, France, it’s often a challenge to explain the intricacies of life here. In the subtitle of his book, wine writer Jon Bonné acknowledges the greatness of the past and present French wine world, while noting the more unfortunate changes that took place in France and in the French wine industry. It’s a complicated knot of bureaucracy, outdated rules, and a push for higher production (with the help of questionable additives and pesticides), which are coming home to roost as environmental and economic challenges have made making wine more compliqué.
What drew me into the book was how Jon, who lives part-time in France, deeply understands the country. In his write-up of The New French Wine in the New York Times, wine writer Eric Asimov sums it up:
Mr. Bonné argues, essentially, that in order to understand French wine, you need to understand French culture. “C’est compliqué,” he writes. There are contradictions and inconsistencies which the French are forever trying to reconcile as they both yearn for order and resist it. This is a terrific book not only about wine but about France.
It’s not a reference book, but something better: an opinionated, thought-provoking work that uses wine as a vehicle for cultural history.
One needs to understand the past in order to move toward the future, which Jon does so well in his book, with lots of background information based on his deep knowledge of France and French wine, and he highlights a new, younger generation of winemakers who are jumping into the family business, forging new paths, and making wines that are redefining the world of French wine.
I was delighted to invite Jon over when he was in Paris recently to talk about his book, France, and French wine, and he brought a unique white wine from Bordeaux that he picked up on the way over that reflected the changes in the French wine world. (It’s sold in a Burgundy bottle!) I was happy to sit—and sip—with Jon, and hope you enjoy our chat.
Visit Jon at his website: JonBonné.com