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Australia's Liquid Gold (Mitchell Beazley Classic Wine Library) [Paperback]

Nicholas Faith
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 April 2003 Mitchell Beazley Classic Wine Library
"The Australian wine industry has virtually reinvented itself...it has proved a great ambassador for Australia." Brian Croser, winemaker. But how did it all happen? How did Australia achieve such phenomenal success in its wine business? Historian and wine writer, Nicholas Faith gives an in-depth account of the growth and international boom of Australia's wine industry and describes how these wines have risen to the point of becoming the world's number one wine choice. The story of wine in Australia is relatively untold, yet Australia is setting the pace for this product world-wide. This book examines the best elements in Australia's character - from willingness to innovate to a disregard for tradition to embracing exactly what the consumer demands, and charts the success and story of Australia's wine trade.


Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Mitchell Beazley (17 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184000794X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840007947
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 13.5 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,319,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"The Australian wine industry has virtually reinvented itself... it has proved a great ambassador for Australia." Brian Croser, winemaker.

Book Description

* Australia in line to export more wine to the UK,US & Canada, and Germany than any other country,with sales to the wine producing countries vying to take over those of indigenous wines * In the mid-1980s Australia exported one million cases of wine, by 2002 this has risen to 35 million cases * The success of Australia's wine industry is recognized globally in all areas of business, and is seen as a marketing phenomenon * Discusses Australia's terroir, grape varieties, and winemaking decisions and dilemmas * Covers the small-scale artisan producers as well as the marketeers and considers the future of this booming industry *Written by one of the UK's best-known financial journalists and an authority in wine

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BACCHUS HEADS SOUTH 22 May 2003
Format:Paperback
.
"Liquid Gold" will become essential reading for anybody wanting to gain a detailed understanding of Australian wine. It looks closely at the history of the industry and the trail-blazing vignerons who have elevated Aussie wine to world-class status. Nicholas Faith's thesis is that Australians have underplayed the importance of "regionalism". He then demonstrates that each Australian wine district has very distinctive and attractive attributes.
This book is the first comprehensive study of the Australian wine business written by a non-Australian. Faith is an Englishman with expert credentials. He made his name with The Winemasters, the classic 1978 study of Bordeaux. As a contributing editor to the London Financial Times Faith combines a knowledge of wine as one of life's essential joys together with a sharp commercial understanding of the wine industry. His insights on the interplays between grape growers, wine makers and the market are very timely, considering the recent financial and organisational shake-downs at Southcorp and elsewhere.
The history of the Australian wine scene is covered in more detail by other authors, but Faith, with his international perspective puts the last 200 years of development in a very relevant, topical and balanced context. Faith's stated purpose in writing the book is "an attempt to explain the success of Australians in the international wine market since the early 1990s". For those readers familiar with the early pioneers and the renaissance of our industry in the 1960s, it may be tempting to skate over the 275 pages it takes Faith to get to the current era.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vin Extra-Ordinaire 8 May 2003
Format:Paperback
.
"Liquid Gold" will become the essential text for anybody wanting to gain a detailed understanding of Australian wine. It looks closely at the history of our industry and the trail-blazing vignerons who have elevated our wine to world-class status. Nicholas Faith's thesis is that Australians have underplayed the importance of "regionalism". He then demonstrates that each Australian wine district has very distinctive and attractive attributes.
Faith is an Englishman, so the book is written from an outsider's perspective. However, his expert credentials are undoubted with Faith having made his name as author of The Winemasters, the classic study of Bordeaux. The history of the Australian wine scene is covered elsewhere in more detail by other authors, but Faith has put the last 200 years of development in a very relevant, topical and balanced context. Although not stressed by Faith, he reminds us there are now dynastic Australian wine families eg the Smiths and Wynns, with up to five generations of viticultural, oenological and wine marketing skills behind them. Interestingly, members of these families are still at the cutting edge of wine innovation.
Faith looks at the very topical issue of the two opposing trends in our industry. With the recent large-scale mergers and international rationalisations eg Rosemount/Penfolds and Hardys/Constellation— there is a risk that Australian wine making will become "commodified". Some critics (particularly the French) argue that industrial scale wine production (even at a high technical standard) leads to bland and characterless wine.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars VIN EXTRA-ORDINAIRE 5 May 2003
Format:Paperback
.
"Liquid Gold" will become the essential text for anybody wanting to develop a detailed understanding of Australian wine. It looks closely at the industry's history and the trail-blazing vignerons. Nicholas Faith's thesis is that Australians have underplayed the importance of "regionalism". He then demonstrates that each Australian wine district has very distinctive attributes.
Faith's book is written from an outsider's (but expert) perspective. The history of the Australian wine scene is covered elsewhere in more detail by other authors, but Faith has put the last 200 years of development in a very relevant, topical and balanced context. Although not stressed by Faith, he reminds us there are now dynastic Australian wine families, with up to up to 5 generation of viticultural, oenological and wine marketing skills behind them. Interestingly the current active members of these families are still at the cutting edge of wine innovation.
Faith looks at the two opposing trends in the current industry. With the recent large-scale mergers and international rationalisations — there is a risk that Australian wine making will become "commodified". Some critics (particularly the French) argue that industrial scale wine production (even at a high technical standard) leads to bland and characterless wine. Thankfully, there are still the innovative smaller-scale producers who are prepared to experiment and "push the envelope" when it comes to getting their vines and wines to sing and dance.
A close reading of the book reveals a few annoying typos and oversights. One example is the name of Penfold's former Chief Viticulturist in South Australia: David Murdock. Faith spells it Murdoch.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars VIN EXTRA-ORDINAIRE 15 July 2003
By "hurburgh" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
.
"Liquid Gold" will become essential reading for anybody wanting to gain a detailed understanding of Australian wine. It looks closely at the history of the Ozzie wine scene and the trail-blazing vignerons who have elevated this country's wine to world-class status. Nicholas Faith's thesis is that Australians have underplayed the importance of "regionalism". He then demonstrates that each Australian wine district has very distinctive and attractive attributes.
This book is the first comprehensive study of the Australian wine business written by a non-Australian. Faith is an Englishman with expert credentials. He made his name with The Winemasters, the classic 1978 study of Bordeaux. As a contributing editor to the London Financial Times Faith combines a knowledge of wine as one of life's essential joys together with a sharp commercial understanding of the wine industry.
The history of the Australian wine scene is covered in more detail by other authors, but Faith, with his international perspective puts the last 200 years of development in a very relevant, topical and balanced context. Faith's stated purpose in writing the book is "an attempt to explain the success of Australians in the international wine market since the early 1990s". For those readers familiar with the early pioneers and the renaissance of our industry in the 1960s, it may be tempting to skate over the 275 pages it takes Faith to get to the current era.

With an Englishman's appreciation of pedigree, Faith reminds us there are now dynastic Australian wine families eg the Smiths and Wynns, with up to five generations of viticultural, oenological and wine marketing skills behind them. Interestingly, members of these families are still at the cutting edge of wine innovation.
Faith looks at the very topical issue of the two opposing trends in our industry. With the recent large-scale mergers and international rationalisations eg Rosemount/Penfolds and Hardys/Constellation- there is a risk that Australian wine making will become "commodified". Some critics (particularly the French) argue that industrial scale wine production (even at a high technical standard) leads to bland and characterless wine. The discounting power of supermarket liquor buyers and the squeeze they are putting on the growers and winemakers (both large and small) is seen as the biggest threat to our industry's continued success.
Thankfully, there are still the innovative smaller-scale producers who are prepared to experiment and "push the envelope" when it comes to making their vines and wines sing and dance for our pleasure. Faith reminds us of the increasingly important role of estate-grown (individual vineyard) and "hand-made" wines. He assures us Australian producers will continue to carve out valuable niches at this premium end of the market.
Faith is optimistic that the most of these competent "tin shed" wine makers with access to good fruit will survive, despite the increasing dominance of the Big Five wine makers and the pressure of retail liquor discounting. He sees cellar door, mail order and direct sales to restaurants as the key. When coupled with wine regions presented as attractive tourism destinations, the identity and survival of the small labels must be assured. In support of this, Faith tells us of the habit of the serious French wine consumer who likes to buy wine direct from the producer.
The most provocative passage in Faith's book looks at the relative economic power between the grape grower and the wine maker.
"The whole of Australia is now coming to resemble Champagne, another region of blended wines produced by firms that are renowned for the value of their brands but - with a few exceptions - can supply only a small proportion of the grapes they require."
On first reading, you might think Faith has seen too many bottles on the shelves of Sainsbury's bearing the label "Product of South-Eastern Australia". However, statistics are on Faith's side. Recent numbers from the Australian Wine Industry Directory (Wine Titles 2003) show that the Top 22 winemakers own or lease only 20% of the total area of Australia's vineyards. To the outsider, the power would seem to be in the hands of the grower but, increasingly, the winemakers apply a rigorous grading system when buying fruit, and will reject grapes that are of inferior quality.
A close reading of the book reveals a few annoying typos and oversights. One example is the name of Penfold's former Chief Viticulturist in South Australia: David Murdock. Faith spells it Murdoch.
Late in the book, he tells us that the Margaret River region of Western Australia is the only region in the world that was recommended geologically as having soil-types suitable for wine-grape growing - this was before the first vine was planted. However, in an earlier chapter we are told that the founders of the Barossa Valley region in South Australia in the 1830s also consulted a mineralogist before committing to their vineyard plantings.
Faith demonstrates that terroir and regionalism does underpin much of the qualities that we see in Australian wine. He reminds us that Brian Croser's bold move into the Adelaide Hills and Andrew Pirie's rigorous selection of Pipers Brook was driven by a belief that the soils and climate characteristics of Burgundy could be found in parts of Australia. The emergence of great local pinots is a result of this combination of science and passion.
One familiar aspect of both the earliest and current generation of Australian vignerons is the large number of medical doctors who got themselves involved with grapes and wine. Faith tells us about the pragmatic and pioneering doctors of the 1800s who grew grapes and recommended wine as a health-giving tonic. The modern generation of winemaking medicos seems to be more inspired by the need for relief from the pain of taxation. Either way the restorative power of Australian wine is firmly based.
When you finish reading "Liquid Gold" you may be obliged to lift a glass and thank Mr Faith for writing such an informative, provocative and entertaining book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not What You Would Expect 23 Mar 2008
By Christopher Barrett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is not a text about the producers, regions, or maps of Aussie wine; this is a story about the growth of Australian wine to become one of the wine powerhouses. If you want an Aussie text, get Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia.

If you liked Noble Rot, then definately check this out.
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent oveview of Austalia's wine industry and its history 24 Feb 2008
By Mark Vincent - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For anyone interested in Australia's wines and seeking a reasonable overview of Australis's wines, wineries, wine industry and its history, this book touches on all these topics and more.

This is a good and interesting book, although I found the first 85 pages or so covering the history of the country's wine industry a bit tedious to plow through, making for slow reading. Once you get past that part, however, the book is a fascinating and enjoyable read. The author makes a valiant effort to touch on all aspects of the Australian wine industry, but keeping in mind that the book is only 250 pages, it can't be as comprehensive as one might like.

I'd recommend this book as a quick overview, not as an in-depth detail guide to Australian wine. It's clearly more about the emergence of the Australian wine industry than a guide to wines. If you are seeking a more thorough guide to Australian wines and the country's wine regions, there are more comprehensive works available, although not a lot, from authors such as James Halladay and Oz Clark.

I recommend this book as doing a pretty good job of covering its intended topic.

Mark Vincent
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