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The Wines of Britain and Ireland: A Guide to the Vineyards of England and Ireland Paperback – 18 Jun 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 531 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; 1st edition (18 Jun. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571200451
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571200450
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 3.1 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,030,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on 11 Sept. 2001
Format: 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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Format: Paperback
As a viticultural & winemaking consultant to several vineyards in Britain, I thoroughly recommend that anyone with the remotest interest in wine and in particular with the UK wine industry, have a good read through this latest edition.
This well written reference gives clear information on the history of the vine in the British Isles, followed with a detailed discussion of varieties. Current vineyards are then listed with a wealth of up-to-date information aimed at both the wine tourist as well as those looking for more technical information on the vineyards and winemaking techniques.
When I bought this book, I expected it to be no more than a reference, dipped into from time to time. However, as soon as it arrived, I read the first half of the book (history of English vineyards - pre-roman to modern day) page by page (learning a huge amount, especially about Ray Barrington-Brock - a pioneer of modern day UK wine-growing). Stephens style of writing make enjoyable and easy reading of the whole subject.
Overall, an interesting and very informative book. I hope it generates even greater interest in the wines of the British Isles.
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