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Winemasters of Bordeaux Paperback – 1 Apr 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Carlton Books Ltd; New edition edition (1 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844425002
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844425006
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 827,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Nicholas Faith was for many years Industrial Editor of The Sunday Times and now writes for The Financial Times and The Independent. He is the author of many books, including the definitive study of Cognac, and combines expert knowledge of the business world with a deep expertise on wine. He received the Andre Simon Award for the first edition of this book.

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By D.J. Brennan on 14 July 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quite an interesting book especially regarding the early history of the area and its links with England and the way that the wine was blended with non-Bordeaux/non-French wines to satisfy the English market. The book concentrates mainly on the West Bank side of the Gironde and not much is written about the St. Emilion/Pomerol/Libourne side. There are a lot of numbers (grape tonnages etc., comparing years which is a bit difficult to follow) and names (as I didn't read it in one go but over a week long period I found that I had to check back a number of times to check who was who). I've sent the book to a friend of mine in NZ who is a red wine maker in the Marlborough area as he spent his early winemaking years in St. Emilion.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Roger Middleton on 26 July 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent account of the way the Bordeaux Wine market works and of the influential families that dominated it especially in the post-war years.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Grand cru crash 1 Jun 2007
By Keith Levenberg - Published on
Format: Paperback
Almost thirty years after its initial publication, this book has gained a new saliency today with Bordeaux prices spiraling out of control like tech stocks in the late '90s. We all know how that story ended and for anyone inclined to think today's overheated wine market will end any differently, Nicholas Faith's account of the last big boom-and-bust will provide a useful history lesson. The early chapters of this book provide a brief history of the Bordeaux wine trade and the rise of the region's aristocracy, but the book's focus is the boom in claret prices in the early '70s and the inevitable crash that followed.

The boom period is best summed up in two epigraphs to the chapter aptly titled "Blast-Off." The first, from wine merchant Peter Sichel, recounts: "`Please send me six cases of Bordeaux Rouge,' a Bordeaux négociant was asked by a private customer. `Certainly, but I'm afraid I've had to increase the price from Frs. 3 to Frs. 6.' `Better send me twelve cases,' was the immediate and typical reaction." The next from Château Lafite owner Baron Elie de Rothschild: "The day I saw in Time Magazine a photograph of a bank vault with a bottle of Lafite in it I assembled my staff and told them, `The crisis has started.' Indeed from the moment when you start to think of wine as an investment and not as something to be drunk, that's the end."

Things began to fall apart when speculators were unable to deliver on futures contracts, having committed to sell wine they didn't own on the assumption they could cover their obligations later. Price surges undermined that strategy, since the speculators would have to source the wine at many multiples of what they had sold it for. Meanwhile, dishonest merchants were taking advantage of the boom by trucking in cheap vin ordinaire from the south and re-labeling the plonk as AOC Bordeaux, much to the relief of the over-committed speculators. The scandal became known as Winegate and took down some of Bordeaux's most entrenched aristocrats.

That sort of scandal is unlikely to spell the end of the current craziness. Speculation and market manipulation continue to feed manic price surges but there is little reason to believe anything illegal is going on or that it is animated by any vice more sinister than simple greed. But that does not make today's price explosion (with many prominent 2005s costing five times their 2000 counterparts) any more sustainable.

Proving the adage that an ounce of history is worth a pound of theory, Nicholas Faith's account shows that the rationalizations offered for today's high prices are the same ones the trade has used to pump the market since time immemorial. In October 2004, wine critic Robert Parker, Jr. published a much-chattered-about article making a dozen predictions on the future of wine, among which was a "world bidding war" for the finest wines fueled by the "burgeoning interest in fine wine in Asia" and other developing markets. In eerie similarity Faith recalls "the hysteria which erupted in the first half of 1973" fueled "in particular by the impression, rife that winter, that Japan was poised to replace the United States as the newest and most exciting market for claret." That tiger still hasn't roared. But it remains one of the trade's favorite bogeymen -- along with the art of creating artificial scarcities. Perhaps the earliest precedent was the proprietor of Château Rausan-Ségla, who sailed to London with casks of his wine to demand a price well in excess of what he could get at home. He gave orders "for one cask after another to be breached and the contents discharged into the river, demanding, as each cask was emptied, the same price for what remained as he had originally asked for his entire cargo which, as the somewhat doubtful story goes, he is said to have eventually obtained." Today the preferred strategy is simply to hold back half of your production to release at a trickle during future booms, a costless strategy once you double the price of what remains. History always repeats itself, both the booms and the busts.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Revealing and Rivetting. 28 Oct 1999
By Robert Kot - Published on
Format: Hardcover
An excellant and in-depth look at the underlying dynamics on one the greatest wine regions of the world. So much goes on.....and we the wine afcionado's know so little. If you are passionate about wine and history this book will give you an enormous perspective on the Bordeaux wine world.
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