Before we went up to Sonoma a couple weekends ago, my girlfriend Michele stopped by my apartment for a visit, and so that we could drive up together. Michele is the only other female I have ever shared a room with — she was my roommate my freshman year of college, and yes, we’re actually still good friends! When she walked through the door after her flight, the first thing she did was hand off the most beautiful gift to Joe and me; a birthday slash belated wedding gift of sorts. She had seen it online and knew that with our love of wine and France, it might make the perfect gift for us — the kind of thing we’d probably never buy for ourselves, but really appreciate.
Well, she hit it out of the park. I wanted to share her gift with you because it is without doubt the most beautiful coffee table/art book I have ever seen! Entitled Distinctive Vintages: Fine French Wines and Spirits, this tome is so much more than just a pretty item to grace a table. It is a joy to look through. The book covers the history of some of the venerable producers in France, focusing mainly on Champagne, with two features on Cognac and Sauternes.
What’s so cool about the book isn’t just the design — though you’ll immediately ogle the gorgeous, debossed gold foil cover, and the well-chosen type and colors — but how interactive it is. When I was flipping through it, I described it as a pop-up book for adults! Each chapter tells the story of the wine producer not only through words, but through old ephemera. There are reproductions of invitations, post cards, old polaroid photographs, and advertisements. The pages are all cut at different sizes, with some items (like photos) glued on top of cardstock and then onto the page for extra texture and dimension. And there actually are literal pop-ups, envelopes and all types of things you can open up and discover to learn about each house. It’s the coolest thing ever!
I realize it’s kind of random to write a post about such a specific piece, but this book is without doubt the most fun art book I have ever looked through. It was a perfect gift for me, and I thought it might be a perfect gift for someone in your life, too (or maybe just for you!). It’s rare that I’ve seen a book that inspires me on so many levels — not just for the history and background it provided, but also in its design/layout inspiration, as well as the sheer pleasure you get from it. It now has a cherished place of pride on our coffee table! If you’re interested in ordering a copy or adding it to your holiday wish list, it has limited availability on Amazon, is available on sale through Gilt, and you can also find it new and used on Barnes & Noble.