The final 11-strong shortlist includes four drink books – Wines of the Rhône by Matt Walls; The South America Wine Guide by Amanda Barnes; Inside Burgundy by Jasper Morris MW and Foot Trodden by Simon J Woolf & Ryan Opaz.
Commenting on the shortlist, Nicholas Lander, chair of the André Simon Memorial Fund, said: ‘A number of this year’s food and drink nominees, including Wines of the Rhône, address the urgent environmental and global issues of today in ways that are original, inspiring and hopeful.’
Talking specifically about the wine-centred drink books, he added: ‘These include regional explorations from the classic wines of Burgundy to contemporary South American wine, some of which have never before been documented in the English language.’
The panel was guided by this year’s independent assessors: Rose Murray Brown MW for the drink books and Yemisi Aribisala – a Nigerian born writer and artist – for the food books.
Among the drink books, Brown said there had been a ‘particularly strong diverse selection of wine titles’, adding that it had been ‘very hard’ to whittle the list down to just four.
‘The South American Wine Guide by Amanda Barnes is a strikingly colourful tone with a refreshing visual format heralding a new era in wine travel books. Its coverage of an entire continent is impressive both in depth and range,’ she said.
She also highlighted how Walls ‘gets to grips with the diversity and vastness’ of The Rhône. ‘His book has enormous scope offered in a digestible format, highlighting current issues with a particular focus on the underdog, the smaller lesser-known appellations, and great value tips for Rhône lovers.’
In relation to Foot Trodden, she said it ‘lifts the lid on Portugal’s past and present, with a fascinating series of regional snapshots highlighting maverick winemakers, “style police”, talha producers and more’.
For Burgundy-lovers, Brown said there was nothing comparable to the new edition of Inside Burgundy. ‘This heavyweight reference book is the most authoritative guide to this fragmented region, stuffed with up-to-date information on vineyard holdings from the Yonne to Mâconnais, intricate vineyard maps and new insights into land costs, climate change issues and Burgundy’s future.’
The shortlisted food books comprise; An A-Z of Pasta by Rachel Roddy; Baking with Fortitude by Dee Rettali; Eating to Extinction by Dan Saladino; Freekeh by Ruth Nieman; Herb by Mark Diacono; Ripe Figs by Yasmin Khan and Sambal Shiok by Mandy Yin.
The André Simon Memorial Fund was founded in 1978 to honour André Louis Simon, who wrote 104 books throughout his lifetime. Past winners of the awards include Oz Clarke, Elizabeth David, Michel Roux, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Nigel Slater, Rick Stein and Hugh Johnson.
The 2021 winners will be announced at a virtual ceremony on 8 March, 2022.