“Champagne: A Tasting Journey” by Kaaren Palmer

Kaaren Palmer

Kaaren Palmer (Photo: Galaxy Guides)

Adelaide-based Champagne-lover and retired businesswoman Kaaren Palmer has published an encyclopaedic book on her favourite subject: “Champagne: A Tasting Journey”.

This is a large book loaded with information, and defying categorisation. It is part history, part collection of profiles, part tasting handbook, part travelogue. Its 430 pages are lavishly enriched with colour pictures, and the text is presented in 44 chapters divided into four parts.

Part one is titled ‘History, Fundamentals of Making, Tasting and Production’; part two is ‘The Grapes, Land and Regions of Champagne, and their Influences on the Finished Product’; part three is ‘Styles and Structures (of the Drink and the Industry)’; and the fourth is ‘Themes of the Past, Present and Future’.

At the end of each chapter is a guided tasting, which takes the form of a list of wines which illustrate the themes explored in that chapter. Each wine is described and some background is given. Procuring the wines and conducting these tastings would keep one busy for years, but would surely result in a deep understanding of Champagne.

The structure of the book is a little puzzling, but the reader can cherry-pick, as I did, at least for a start. For instance you might pick out the following chapters as a way into this dense volume: ‘The Oldest Champagne Houses’, ‘Underrated Villages’, ‘The Mysterious Reserve’, ‘Some Veuves of Champagne’, ‘The Effect of Wood’, or ‘How Champagne Ages: Non-Vintage Compared to Vintage; Late Disgorged; Mellow Malo’.

It’s an engrossing and comprehensive book, which took years to research and write. The quality of the production is high, and it’s a beautiful book to regard. Perhaps a hardback rather than soft would have been justified (but no doubt the price would be even higher). I recommend it.

“Champagne: A Tasting Journey” by Kaaren Palmer is $140 plus $15 postage within Australia. http://galaxyguides.com/champagne/

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