on 10 December 2010
I had high hopes of this book, but ultimately they were dashed. At the end of the day I was left uncertain what type of book it was intended to be. It's a very personal view, written by someone who is rightly proud of both her country and its wines and - above all - the wines of Catena, but for those of us used to the writing of Clive Coates, Remington Norman, Paul Strang or Rosemary George there's a sense of something missing. A lack of detail, a sense of repetition, a feeling that Laura Catena couldn't avoid taking every opportunity to mention members of her family and what they have achieved... it's a mix of those.
Please don't get me wrong. It's not a bad book. It might be a good introductory guide to someone who hasn't visited the country and wants to know more before they go. It will highlight some good places to visit, both from the perspective of wine and food. On the other hand, it skips so hastily over so many fine producers that I felt frustrated at the lack of information. It does - and all credit to the author - dispel the idea that Mendoza has a single terroir, so I have certainly learned from it. However, I kept finding myself wanting far more than is offered. And I found myself groaning as yet another mention of something the Catenas have done intruded into a section that was supposed to be about a different subject - Pinot in Patagonia is one example.
I found this sad. I think that the Catena family have offered wine lovers a lot and some of their wines are amongst those I most enjoy from this great country. They have been innovative and they probably deserve a book telling their story. However, this book claims to be more than the Catena story. I was expecting a more comprehensive guide to the exciting wineries of Argentina, and this didn't provide it. If only Laura had modelled this on Rosemary George's Wines of Chablis - what a book we might have had.