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Michael Broadbent's Vintage Wine: 50 Years of Tasting the World's Finest Wines Hardcover – 10 Oct 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (10 Oct. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316859648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316859646
  • Product Dimensions: 19.5 x 25.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 255,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


The world's most experienced taster (WINE Spectator)

Michael Broadbent has 'traded in and tasted a greater number of fine and rare wines than anyone else in the world (#NAME?)

Michael is one of my favourite tasting partners. I get all the benefit of his massive wine experience - and all the pleasure of his boyish enthusiasm for life. - Oz Clarke (The fine art of writing intelligent tasting notes has no greater master than the incomparable Michael Broadbent. - Robert Parker)

Broadbent is the doyen of wine tasters and this covers thousands and thousands of bottles, some 100 years old (The GUARDIAN)

Book Description

MICHAEL BROADBENT'S VINTAGE WINE is Michael Broadbent's first book for more than a decade. It is at once the ultimate fine wine reference book and a remarkable record of a lifelong passion.

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Why, when the whole world is awash with new wine, do I spend so much time evaluating and re-evaluating the wines of the past, especially those of Bordeaux? Read the first page
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Dec. 2002
Format: Hardcover
Although I suspect Mr Broadbent would shudder at the thought, comparions will inevitably be made between this book and those of Robert Parker, probably the broadest and certainly the most famous (or infamous) body of tasting notes by one individual available in print.

Perhaps the most fundamental difference is one of style. Parker's notes on any given wine tend to be of the order of two or three times longer than Broadbent's. By his own admission Broadbent is not "a great taster, merely a fairly conscientious one". As such his notes are pithy, concentrating the quality of the wine and its state of development rather than ransacking the vocabulary for different terms to describe, in minute detail, essentially similar smell and taste sensations.

Another important difference is the context, Broadbent's notes covering the full gamut from cask tastings at various Chateaux, through various formal tastings at auctions and wine societies to private dinners and, even in some cases family meals. This contrasts with Parker's notes, all written in the context of "professional tastings". While this arguably provides a more consistent basis upon which to compare the wines, it makes for much more clinical, and in my opinion, monotonous reading.

A particular feature of the Broadbent book is its depth, i.e. the range of vintages covered. Whereas Parker's books tend to cover wines recently released (or in the context of his regionally specific works, released in the last forty-or-so years), Broadbent's covers, uniquely as far as I know, vintages stretching back to the 19th and even late 18th centuries. This can be an invaluable aid in selecting older bottles for birthdays and anniversaries, as well as for buying or selling older wines at auction.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Broadbent's Vintage Wine is a unique history both of tasting, going back 50 years but of the history of wines and the history of wine itself. Spliced into the book is a general history and how wine was enjoyed by the history makers. It is well written by a true expert with a wealth of knowledge.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "dicko2003" on 2 Dec. 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is an excellent catalogue of all Michael Broadbent's tasting notes from the last 50 years. And has he tasted some wine! A bible that will definitely come in handy for any lover of fine wines, can't recommend it highly enough.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paul Lawrence on 27 Dec. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Although this book was republished in 2006, the material has not apparently been updated and still relates to when it was originally published in 2003.
Although interesting, I would have thought that with a book as expensive as this, the author could have brought it more up to date when it was republished. A poor buy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Sweet Dreams are Made of These 17 Mar. 2003
By Bevetroppo - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I first fell under Mr. Broadbent's spell during my earliest days as a fledgling sommelier. His slender volume, Michael Broadbent's Complete Guide to Wine Tasting and Wine Cellars (1982) has long been, like they say about middleweight boxers, pound-for-pound the best book I've ever read about appreciating wine. When the wine auction scene arrived in Chicago in the mid-eighties. I can still remember attending some of the first few events at the University Club, sponsored by Christie's and conducted by the legendary MB. I was overwhelmed watching him lead auctions, but way too shy and in awe of him to introduce myself.
Because MB is a wine tasting hero. He's quite possibly the most accomplished wine taster in the world, certainly when it comes to Bordeaux, and heir to centuries of Britain's dominance as the arbiter of European and thus the world's best wines. This book, Vintage Wines, is a compilation of tasting notes spanning his career. It presents notes on thousands of wines in MB's impeccable, staccato style in which he is often able to elucidate the innate character or value of a wine in a few succinct phrases, along with his 0-5 star rating system. It also weaves in wonderful details of vintages, wines, and people he has known and loved.
Mr. Broadbent is a classicist, by which I mean his definition of quality predates Robert Parker's arrival on the wine scene. Inconceivable as it may be to many Americans, good wines were both made and enjoyed before Parker redefined the terms. Which is not to say that Parker adds no value to the debate, it's just that more modest authorities like Mr. Broadbent advocate a traditional style of wine making in which the individual character provided by soil and climate is given its expression rather than the creation of souless fruit-bombs. Finesse, breed, elegance, typicity, potential to improve with age, but most of all drinkability and compatibility with food are the hallmarks of great wines for Mr. Broadbent.
Nothing illustrates the comparison better or helps you understand why you would want to consult MB's notes more than a look at the ratings of the same wines presented by MB's Vintage Wines, the Wine Spectator, and the Wine Advocate.
Chateau Pavie, 2000. Very deep, velvety; tobacco-like, sweaty tannins;sweet ,full-bodied, charred and tarry taste. Impressive, but I much prefer the late Jean-Paul Valette's Pavie, which was so much more drinkable. For me. **. For wine competitions and our American cousins, (*****). (Michael Broadbent)
"2000 Chateau Pavie (St.-Emilion): This is a super model of a wine. Super grapey, with red licorice and perfumed aromas. Full-bodied and very tight, with racy tannins and a sleek finish. Best wine of the hillsides of St.-Emilion. Lasts for minutes." 95-100 Points - Wine Spectator, March 30, 2001
"2000 Chateau Pavie (St.-Emilion): With no shortage of confidence, Gerard Perse feels the 2000 is the greatest Pavie ever produced. Premature you say? Don't discount the proprietor's rhetoric. A blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, it is a backward, super-concentrated effort displaying an inky purple color, and a thrilling bouquet of minerals, black fruits, vitamins, and toast. It possesses a wealth of fruit, glycerin, and extract as well as high levels of tannin, and a finish that lasts nearly a minute. It will undoubtedly close down after bottling, and not be close to prime time drinking until 2010 or later. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2050." 96-98 Points - Robert M. Parker, Jr.'s, The Wine Advocate, Issue 139
Are they all talking about the same wine? Who is right? Only you can be the judge. While this happens to be a wine that MB doesn't much care for, you can get a good feeling for how his notes work. It's important to point out that he is definitely willing to call a spade a spade when he doesn't like a wine and the book has many such graceful and witty putdowns.
Back to the book itself. The book is arranged by wine growing region, and while it touches all corners of the wine world, the pages devoted to each area are a telltale sign of where Mr. Broadbent's passion and experience lie. For example, here are the regions with the most notes, with pages in (): Red Bordeaux (150), White Bordeaux (46), Red Burgundy (58), White Burgundy (29), Germany (50), Italy (18), California (35). Each chapter starts out with a few paragraphs of background and then presents the notes, all arranged by vintage from the oldest to the most recent. Fortunately, the book was published in time to allow him to include some notes from the heralded 2000 Bordeaux vintage.
I think it would be fair to say that Mr. Broadbent has access to and gets to taste a lot higher quality of wine than most of us, so many of the reviews are probably for wines that we will never see let alone get a chance to try. He starts each Bordeaux vintage with the first growths and the Burgundy vintage with DRC wines, such that if I bought a single bottle of each in one vintage it would cost more than I spend on wine in total in a good year.
So that brings us to the downside of this wonderful compendium. What is it good for? If you're a die-hard MB fan like me, it's a treat to enter his world and vicariously taste yourself through his lifetime in wine. For others, it will prove valuable if you've got the money and inclination to buy great wines at auction (and avoid some over-rated clunkers). Even then, it's not by any means exhaustive, and if you're buying anything but the best of the best you can't always find what you want. For many of us it's a little like having your nose pressed against the glass, wishing that just once we'd get to taste (or even smell!) the 1945 Latour that MB has tasted and dutifully logged 28 times.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
One of Wine's Grand Old Men 17 April 2003
By Bill Marsano - Published on
Format: Hardcover
By Bill Marsano. We can divide wine drinkers into three classes. Ordinaire Joe, who'd rather drink wine than talk about it, is here advised to flee: This book will bore him stupid. The Wine Geek is just the opposite; for him wine is an excuse to prattle about clonal selection and hints of toffee on the nose. He'll love this book--will take it to bed with him. It is a gold mine of tasting notes covering many decades and innumerable wines from most regions of the world. The emphasis is on France, with Germany a distant third (there is no second), Italy a distant fifth (there is no fourth) and everybody else reduced to odds and ends. There's lots of stuff on champagne and port, too--a quintessentially British slant.
Never mind: The author, Michael Broadbent, is British, and the British have always leant that way. He is also one of the Great Men of Wine: revitalizer of Christie's wine auctions since 1966, writer, advisor, globe-trotting taster and collector of anecdotes and memories. In Japan such a person is officially labeled a Living National Treasure.
That makes this book of value and interest to the third class of wine drinkers--the Sub-Geek (or perhaps wannabe) who recognizes that his enjoyment of wine can be enhanced by a little more knowledge of its history and traditions, its lore and learing, its famous places and personages. There's a lot of that in this book, and it's always modestly and charmingly delivered. The reader must patiently winkle it out, however. It's all wrapped up in sidebars among those endless pages of tasting notes (about 500 of them) and is sometimes hidden inside individual tasting notes themselves.
This is the sort of book that will grace a shelf for a long time. There's no possibility of reading straight through it, and that's the wrong approach anyway. This book sits and waits for those late evenings with a last glass and an inquiring mind. It is to be leafed through for the pleasure of Broadbent's company.
--Bill Marsano is a wine and spirits writer who has won a James Beard medal and other awards.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
One note of caution 30 Oct. 2006
By PKN - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Michael Broadbent is a justifiably legendary critic whose perspective is especially valuable in a Shanken/Parker-dominated world. This book is great.

However, one word of caution on this book -- a non-negligible fraction of his tasting notes from old wines are likely inaccurate, because the wines in question were likely fake. Namely, Broadbent (and many other critics) relied heavily on a German dealer/collector named Hardy Rodenstock for samples of the oldest wines noted in the book (by which I mean pre-WWII and especially pre-1900). For example, if you look at MB's tasting notes on pre-1900 Chateau d'Yquem, it appears that one-third or more of the TN's are attributable to Rodenstock-sourced bottles. Rodenstock is now the subject of lawsuits filed by two prominent collectors, Bill Koch and Russell Frye, as detailed in a recent WSJ article. He is steadily developing a reputation as one of the bigger [...] in the history of the fine wine business. This is not to say that most of the old wines tasted by MB weren't genuine, but because Rodenstock was such a major source of old wines, it is now difficult to know which were fake and which were real.

MB was likely a victim of Rodenstock's chicanery, pure and simple. But the responsible thing to do at this point would be to issue a new edition down the road with known Rodenstock-sourced bottles stripped from the book.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The Ultimate Vintage Wine Guide 20 Dec. 2002
By Jeff Mosley - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is indeed Broadbent's best work to date. He combines his 50 years of experience to rate wines from the 17th century to 2001 Vintages. Each page includes everything from average price to serving suggestions for dinner. This is a great book for the aspiring beginner as well as the seasoned expert.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A reading indulgence. 24 Mar. 2003
By hartmutw - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Even if you haven't / will not try most of the wines tasted by MB, the mere description of the wines in his unique British style will make your taste buds shiver. A pleasure for all wine lovers - everything else put excellently well by the previous reviewer.
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