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Real Wine: The Rediscovery of Natural Winemaking Hardcover – 12 Oct 2000


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Mitchell Beazley (12 Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840002573
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840002577
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.9 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 202,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Sometimes the wine industry is reminiscent of J.B.S. Haldane's famous remark about the universe--it is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can imagine. Patrick Matthews' Real Wine is a wholly absorbing tour of this strange world into which few of us ever get so much as a glimpse. Its theme is the rediscovery, initially by New World wine-makers, of the virtues of traditional viticulture and wine-making methods. Significant wines are now made in California and Australia without recourse to chemicals, cooled stainless steel vats and quantities of sulphur: their cultivation is often organic or even biodynamic (the latter the mad-sounding but apparently efficacious system, based around planting by phases of the moon, propounded by Rudolf Steiner). By a very rich irony, these ideas are now taking hold in France and Germany among wine-makers whose fathers were persuaded away from their ancestral practices, and into stainless steel and synthetic fertilisers, by salesmen representative of the wine industries of the New World. Patrick Matthews has talked widely with wine-makers in California and France. As these pioneers innovate their way back into the past, the Byzantine complexity of their craft emerges. Where 20 years ago it was a revelation to discover that different wines were made from different strains of vine, now it is apparently crucial for growers to obtain, by whatever means at their disposal, particular cloned root-stocks. Mineral surveys of potential planting sites can promise a global reputation. Almost anything that you might have thought to be an unquestioned tenet of wine making is being questioned by someone, somewhere. Real Wine should be required reading for anyone who has ever wondered why a glass of wine tastes the way it does. --Robin Davidson

From the Publisher

Some praise for Real Wine from fellow wine writers
Richard Neill Daily Telegraph Oct 14 2000

"Excellent ... Matthews' work is well-written and well-researched and full of clear-headed opinion. The book is extremely topical."

Christine Austin Yorkshire Post Oct 7 2000

"Patrick Matthews has broken the mould with his latest book. It is one of the most fascinating wine books I have read in recent years."

Matthew Jukes Daily Mail 9 December 2000

"Patrick skillfully unravels a multi-layered story of the evolution of modern wine."

Anthony Rose Independent 9 December 2000

"Patrick Matthews' iconoclastic nature ramble is designed as an antidote to mass-market McWine. Curl up with this vinous polemic ... preferably with a bottle of something biodynamic for company."


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Nov. 2000
Format: Hardcover
Patrick Matthews ploughs a different furrow to other wine writers. He's a thinker -- and a bit philosophically inclined. While most wine books aim to simplify the complicated subject of wine for the general reader, Matthews isn't happy to take this well trodden path. Instead, he takes a complex subject and makes it even more complicated. He established his reputation as someone prepared to grapple with the thorny issues surrounding wine in his previous book, The wild bunch: great wines from small producers, and Real wine follows in a similar vein. However, while The wild bunch was an impressive book, Real wine is even better. It's a brilliantly conceived book that makes gripping reading for anyone intrigued by the deeper issues of wine and its production.
In essence, this book addresses the question of how to go about making a 'real wine'. This provides a thread of continuity that ties together each of the chapters. These embrace some of the most contentious yet vital issues surrounding wine today, including site selection, planting the vines, organic and biodynamic viticulture, choice of grape variety, wine making techniques, what constitutes a wine fault, and making money. Finally, there's a fun but rather quirky appendix aimed at helping interested readers to actually make 'real wines' themselves.
At the heart of this book is the tension between the old and new world approaches to making wine. On the one hand there are the traditional vignerons; on the other the new world technology-driven winemakers. But Matthews skilfully avoids the usual generalizations and clichés surrounding the old world/new world debate by focusing mainly on California, where winemakers reflect both traditions, and there is currently a swing back to 'natural winemaking'.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 0 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Great potential 31 Oct. 2002
By R. Apte - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Matthews' subject and sources are impeccable, and eventually he makes his points. But the prose is rambling and without focus. The problem is his inability to decide what he's writing, portraits of California winemakers who have moved to more traditional methods, the usual critique of UC Davis agri-business, an essay on natural winemaking methods, or, oddly, a history of california winemaker's political beliefs during WWII. He succeeds best with his essay, but the biographical portraits obscure his technical points.
As a piece of reportage this work is interesting and informative. But for the winemaker it offers little more than name-dropping and a gloss over the challenges of growing great wines.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Great for Wine 4 Nov. 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is the antidote to a world of soulless, manufactured, Parkerized, fruit bombs. If you like to buy wine based only on "points" or if you like oaky, butterball Chardonnay this will be a real eye-opener. After reading it, I could only wish that it be required reading for all Wine Spectator subscribers. I think that after reading this book many people would appreciate that great wine is wine with character, wine that reflects where it comes from. This point is central to real enjoyment of wine which can be as much intellectual as sensual.
The author tells an engaging well-researched story with a provocative point of view. On the flip side, while I appreciate his taking a stand, he comes off with an almost blind hero-worship of all things French. A reflection of this is his belief that great wine is only made in limestone soils. The counter-examples to this are endless, including many of the best wines in the New World, Rochioli vineyard comes to mind. But while I might occasionally disagree with minor points, the author's advocacy of "natural wine" is compelling.
In the midst of fascinating personal anecdotes the author manages to let readers in on the internal debates surrounding great wine, revealing the artistic and philosophical quandaries that the wine world faces today. This is a great book for anyone who loves wine
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A thought-provoking read. 10 April 2001
By M. Ragen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Many books on winemaking attempt to reduce a complex topic into a 'cookbook' approach to making wine. Instead, Matthews delves into the philosophical issues of what makes a 'real' wine. The goal is to understand how personal taste can be translated into the grape-growing and winemaking process.
In the late 1990s, there has been a revival of natural methods that counter the industrial approach to winemaking. This book is centered on the tension between approaches to making wine that are used in the old world and new world. To illustrate this tension, this book focuses is mainly on California, where where is currently a swing back to more natural methods where there is currently a swing back to more natural methods although winemakers use both approaches. Some of the topics covered include: What is the role of terroir (site selection) in making wine? How do you choose which grapes to grow? How does one go about planting the vineyard? What makes some wine 'good' and some wine 'bad'?
Matthews' book is thought-provoking. It is well worth buying if you are interested in wines and winemaking and some of the tradeoffs that winemakers are making in their search for wine that embodies the soul of the earth from which the grapes grow.
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