Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a look, 11 Sep 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Wines of Britain and Ireland: A Guide to the Vineyards of England and Ireland (Paperback)
Viticulture in the UK has a long and somewhat chequered history, but seems to have established itself in the last few years as a small but serious enterprise. A more professional approach to making and marketing wine, a few decent summers, and a move away from what Mr. Skelton terms 'ersatz Liebfraumilch' towards drier, fuller, uniquely aromatic still wines and excellent traditional sparkling wines: these factors ought to earn the industry the attention of all wine lovers.
As Mr. Skelton says below, this book is the only widely available guide to this fascinating subject, by an author with a long and distinguished association with the English wine industry. The book contains a raft of detail about the history of vine growing in the UK, about the significant problems of site selection and pruning systems, and about suitable grape varieties for our marginal climate. On the practicalities of viticulture in the UK, Mr. Skelton has some intriguing opinions, and he makes no effort to conceal his prejudices: I was interested to read his rather dismissive comments about the Kerner variety (which made two of the three most delicious English wines I have tasted), and his praise (with more of an eye on the economics of the thing, I suspect) of the productive but dull Reichensteiner.
I feel this book could have done with some more rigorous pruning itself. Mr. Skelton has a chatty, slapdash style and tends to wander alarmingly off the subject, though it must be said that some of his asides do paint a vivid picture of a somewhat desperate enterprise: tales abound of overoptimistic spending, natural disasters, disappointment and bankruptcy. It is also unfortunate that the gazetteer, which makes up the bulk of this book, lists at least one vineyard which as far as I know has long since been grubbed up.
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