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Bon Mots from the (English) Ancien Regime
on 4 July 2006
If you are expecting an autobiography of Hugh Johnson, you'll be disappointed - this is his jottings/ramblings on wine and anything biographical is almost coincidental. It is not his life story. It is, of course, beautifully written and from this aspect streets ahead of his competitors. This is not a book full of gobs of blockbuster fruit flavours, but of understated, evocative prose. But at times it does teeter on the brink of becoming pompous - all those black tie dinners with the wine aristocracy drinking impossibly ancient bottles, and endless comments on the very old bottles he has in his almost medieval cellar at his mansionly home. On the subject of Robert Parker he is also pretty outspoken, and perhaps needlessly so, and it begins to smack a little of jealous snobbery. If the wine world is full of sheep, perhaps not all the blame should be heaped upon the anointed leader. But just as the book becomes a bit too crusty, he gets back to the real business, and there is nobody who writes better about wines and travels amidst the vineyards.