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."