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In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism Hardcover – 13 Oct 2009

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About the Author

George M. Taber is the author of Judgment of Paris, the 2006 wine book of the year for Britain's Decanter magazine. His second book, To Cork or Not to Cork, won the Jane Grigson Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals and was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for best book on wine and spirits and the Andre Simon Award for best wine book. Before turning to writing wine books, Taber was a reporter and editor for Time. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Amazon.com: 13 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
In Search of Bacchus 14 Oct. 2009
By James Beauregard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism, by Geroge M. Taber, 294 pages, hardcover $30.00.

Geroge Taber's name is already familiar to wine lovers - he was the only journalist present (and he has photos to prove it) at the famed 1976 Paris tasting in which two American wines, Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon in California, won out over the French wines in a blind tasting by French judges that put American wines on the world map. If you've seen the recent movie Bottle Shock, you should know it's very, very loosely based on Geroge's Paris Tasting book. And George is nothing like the sleepy, out of touch journalist depicted in the movie. He's smart, engaging and very well- informed.

George has written two previous books about wine, The Judgement of Paris (about the 1976 tasting) and To Cork or Not to Cork: Tradition, Science, and the Battle for the Wine Bottle (in which he somehow managed to make wine bottle stoppers a fascinating and informative read). In search of Bacchus has a selection from To Cork or Not to Cork at the end, if you're interested.

Now retired from his work as a writer and editor for Time Magazine, Geroge has followed up with a third book, In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism. His new work is every bit as well-written, readable and engaging as the two previous ones, and now he takes us on a tour of the world's major wine regions, some famous and some not so.

The book begins with a bit of tourism history, focusing on three early wine tourists: the british philosopher John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, spendthrift and wine lover, and the author Robert Louis Stevenson (who knew?), showing that wine tourism has been around for quite a while (Pompeii had its wine bars too). There's nothing like drinking a wine at the source - in the vineyard and winery in which it came into being, and George does just that. He made a six month journey through the wine world (I wish I had his job), and introduces the reader to Napa Valley, Stellenbosch in South Africa, Mendoza in Argentina, Colchagua Valley in Chile, Margaret River in Australia, Central Otago in New Zealand, the Rioja region in Spain, Portugal's Duoro Valley, Bordeaux and Burgundy, the Rheingau and Middle Mosel in Germany, and a final chapter on Kakheti, Goergia (of the former Soviet Union).

If you're thinking "Great, but can you actually find any of the wines he writes about?" the answer is yes. I saw many familiar labels on my way through the book: Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc, Beaulieu Vineyards, Francis Ford Coppola, Goats Do Roam, Casa Lapostelle, Banfi, J.J. Prum Riesling, and others. George also provedes a listing of the wines at the end of the book, with prices (many of them eminently affordable during recession times). It would be great fun to sample while reading.

George's account is readable, engaging and informative; I would consider it a must-have for anyone considering a wine trip. He makes the important point that while California wine country is loaded with tourists (it's second only to Disney World in that respect, with millions of visitors a year), visits to many of the other regions often include a visit with the winemaker and a less hectic time. Of course, one wine book can't cover every wine tourist spot on the planet; that leaves plenty of room for a sequel.

And if all this weren't enough, George's account of his first bungy jump from a bridge in New Zealand is worth the price of the book.

Here's a look at one of the wines George mentions: 2005 Bored Doe, The Goats Do Roam Wine Company,South Africa, $12.99. This red is a Bordeaux blend of the grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Classic dark fruit from the two Cabernet grapes, earthiness on the nose, deep purple in the glass, it's beginning to develop with flavors of blackcurrant, plum (that's the Merlot talking), hints of perfume from the Petit Verdot, a background of ripe dark fruit on a dry palate with good acidity, well-integrated tannin, balanced alcohol and a pleasing finish. Well worth the price. If you're counting your wine pennies these days, this is a good place to drop a few. Pair with red meats, stews, grilled meat, hard cheeses. 88 pts.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Well researched, well written, a great read if you love wine 16 Oct. 2009
By David A. Garrett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
When George Taber came to visit us in Mendoza while researching this book, we weren't sure what to expect. Lots of journalists and writers had come through looking for the big story of the "New Napa," and most had gone away with only a small part of it. What impressed us about George and his approach to research was the great number of people he talked to from every nook and cranny of the wine community, and the seemingly boundless breadth of his questions and interests.

Now that I have had a chance to read the book (delivered on my Kindle even in Argentina), I see that he applied the same thoroughness to every wine region he visited. I think the format of telling the story of the region, mixed with the personal histories of some of the interesting people who help define the region, all used as backdrop to bring the reader along with the author's personal journey - is exactly the right mix to tackle the sometimes impregnable world of wine.

I have spent a lot of time in a lot of wine regions around the world in the last 5 years. The portrayals of the places I know well are spot on, and now there are several I want to know better. I would hazard a guess that readers will wind up a little envious of George's journey by the end of this book.

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating Reading 2 Nov. 2009
By Richard E. Davidson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I recently purchased Mr. Taber's new book, In Search of Bacchus and found it a very enjoyable read. I have visited 7 of the 12 wine regions he writes about, and he has documented them well. I particularly like his explanation of each region's wine history. The time and effort he has spent on researching each region shows in the detailed writing. I was also particularly impressed with Mr. Taber's bungy jump at Kawarau Bridge in Central Otago, New Zealand. I have been to that Bridge and I can tell you it is a long way down!

I am heading off to Argentina and Chile and Mr. Taber's book has given me alot of great ideas for the upcoming trip. I thank him for writing it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Armchair wine tourism plus a great source of travel ideas 22 Nov. 2009
By A. W. Tamarelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book by a very knowledgeable author is a chance to experience many interesting wine regions from our armchairs. Very few people will have the chance to visit all those areas. Yet after reading "In Search of Bacchus" you get a feeling that you know each area. It is also a great source of travel ideas for those who are fortunate enough to be able to explore the world of wine in person. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Well-Traveled Account of a Wine-Lover 28 Dec. 2009
By Garrett Peck - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
George Taber's third book, "In Search of Bacchus" is a well-researched and well-traveled overview of 12 wine regions around the world, from Napa, which invented wine tourism, to the fledgling Republic of Georgia. In his groundbreaking "Judgment of Paris," Taber detailed the Napa pioneers of the 1960s. He doesn't recross that river here, but looks instead at those who got wine tourism started, people like Robert Mondavi, John Wright, and Nicolas Catena, who realized there was a business opportunity in selling more than just wine. It helps their cause that many wine-growing regions are in stunningly beautiful places that you'd visit just for the view.

At times "In Search of Bacchus" reads a bit dryly, but Taber has a keen eye for history and filtering in the things that matter most. Most fascinating to read was how South Africa has emerged in the post-apartheid world. Wine has a role in helping racial reconciliation in a nation with a difficult, painful, and often violent past. His description of the Rioja region was breathtaking for its food, architecture, scenery, and oh yeah, the wine. And I found myself laughing as Taber described bumbling through blending his own wine in Duoro, Portugal. The book makes me thirst to visit South Africa, New Zealand, and Spain.

Taber includes informal lessons and traveler's tips, though the book isn't a tourist guide like Fodor's or Rick Steves'. His five-page conclusion is worth the price of the book alone. He wrote, "So where in the world is the best wine tourism? Your next destination." Spain will definitely be on my destination list.

The audience for this book are people who drink wine already and want to explore wine regions. While obviously a wine enthusiast, Taber never claims expertise or promotes highfalutin tasting notes. He's a journalist, and he's best just recording the experience of visiting a place. His narrative appeals to many of us who are curious, rather than pretentious, about wine, and who want to travel the world to drink it.
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