Yet another large format, coffee table book, this one comes up short for me. To begin with, it includes very little new or useful information about any of the featured chateaux. Instead, it includes one page, with a few paragraphs of text, on each of the classified growths featured. The text is often presented in stilted translation, no doubt from somewhat stilted French original. Par example:
"Saint-Estephe is a wine that likes to keep it under cover. Not out of a wish to deceive us, but in order to keep intact the surprise of its spicy brilliance underneath a so-called austere and monarchal appearance."
The above, from the brief profile of Cos d'Estournel, continues in the same vein for a somewhat lengthy full paragraph, which I need not quote in full to convey my point. Much of it reads like a Thurber satire, but it appears no one has tongue in cheek.
There are some lovely photographs of the cuveries, chateaux and vineyards. And for each of the estate profiles, a recipe from a celebrity chef. Unfortunately, the finished dishes are presented in flatly lit photographs that make most of the food appear less than appetizing. Moreover, the recipes are mostly aspirational, academic exercises and often downright odd. I love to cook and am an adventuresome eater. Flipping through recipes usually gets my juices flowing. Most of these recipes leave me as flat as the lighting in the food photos.
Again an example: "Forgotten" Vegetables in a Clay Crust, Lightly Buttered and Emulsified Truffle Juice, from Marc Veyrat. He lost me right off the bat with an ingredient list including two and a half pounds of clay and a pound of spruce bark, the latter to be "steamed in a steam oven for 30 minutes" and then rolled and carved up, for reasons that remain a mystery, other than pure affectation.
From Yoichi Sato, "Best Sommelier of Japan 2005," we have this stunning revelation about Chateau Lafite-Rothschild:
"The greatness of Lafite-Rothschild needs no introduction; its flawless potential, revealed with time, is well known. The 2000 vintage is remarkable in its intensity and magnificence. When tasting this wine I am deeply impressed by the chateau's unflagging pursuit of excellence."
That's not the intro to his contribution to the entry on Lafite -- that's it. Every thoroughly uninformative word. It doesn't even cut it as back cover blurb.
In short, an all-star lineup of international chefs, classified Bordeaux estates and master sommeliers somehow manages to provide us with very little of substance and mediocre production values to boot.
All of this adds up to one unfortunate conclusion: alas, this is not a purchase I am glad I made or a book I really need in my library. I purchased it sight unseen and am disappointed with the purchase. Now that I have paid to see it, you have fair warning, at my expense.