home stretch

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The shed is looking a bit dusty, I'm afraid. You see, I don't spend much time in here. I should do - sheds are a lovely space to shut the world out and focus on putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard). 

The book is very nearly finished. In fact, by this time next week, it will be in the hands of some of the nice folks at Unbound so that they can get a clear idea of just how unfinished it is. All sorts of serious chat has gone on regarding cover design, release dates and whatnot. It's been a bit of a whirlwind. Almost too much so. That's why I've popped back into the shed. Just to say hello and maybe uncork a bottle and pour a glass to remind myself of what this whole thing has been about. 

It's a book about wine, and winemaking, but it's not a wine book. That's been my mantra the whole time and as it takes shape, I think I've managed to stick to that. But why isn't it a wine book? There are shelves full of books that are startlingly similar, every one of which the author felt was utterly original and stood alone. Wine books treat wine as pretty much the most interesting thing in the world, around which all other peripheral things revolve. They're written with wine people in mind and there are some that sit on the shelf of pretty much every wine professional and enthusiastic oenophile in the world. I fit in both those categories and then some, and I have those books. They're reference tomes, and speak with authority. 

Salt & Old Vines isn't a reference tome. I shudder to think of anyone quickly grabbing a copy to look up an obscure piece of information regarding pruning techniques in the Roussillon, or harvesting dates for the 2010 vintage. Wine on its own is a pretty boring thing. As incredible as a bottle may taste, it's the people making it and the people drinking it that make it interesting. Without that context, it's just fermented grape juice wrapped in glass. 

So I hope you're not looking for answers. I have plenty, but none are definitive. There are no photos of grape bunches or barrels. No illustrations of soil strata or spur pruning methods. What I have are stories. Stories about a little spot down in France, right by where the mountains meet the sea, where me and my friends make good wine. We drink beer at the end of the day with artists and arms dealers (retired), and play cricket with barrel staves and silicon bungs. 

So no, not a wine book, not in the traditional sense. Just a story book, with quite a lot of wine in it.

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