Top positive review
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Excellent book for the right audience
on 5 January 2008
The ever increasing size of this book reflects the increasing interest in wine, so it now lands with an impressive thump on your desktop. Though its content doesn't always reflect who that new market is.
The authors start with a, rather meandering, description of the history and production of wine and some basic notes on tasting, appreciation and handling of wine. Some of this is very useful, most of it is very basic for someone who already knows the subject and all of it could do with some editing to make the best of their material. Some of it punctures some of the myths about wine such as how long wines should be laid down and do you really need to let wine breath. Elsewhere they perpetuate some of those myths, for example they still seem to give the whole concept of 'terroir' an almost mystical reverence.
That introduction, however, is not really the point of this volume. This appears to be aimed at the new wine connoisseur or someone who wants to be a connoisseur. The real body of this is a fairly comprehensive atlas of vineyards and producers. The detail with which they cover their subject is variable but excusably so as it reflects the varying national interest in wine. So France is covered in incredible detail while England, however much it's wine industry may be growing, is given one brief page. That sort of omission is annoying when you had hoped for something comprehensive, but it's an understandable omission given the limited space any single book will have. As long as you stick to well established wine producing regions and buy from those regions this will have something to tell you.
Which, excellent as it is, is also a problem this book has. Ninety per cent of the wine buying public, whether they are buying something cheap and nasty from tescos or something better from a merchant will be buying a blend; a chardonnay or shiraz whose provenance can be narrowed down no more closely than southern Australia, South Africa or so on. Good as those wines are this book doesn't help in selecting them.
If you've moved from just buying a muscadet or whatever to buying 'something from the Loire Valley' then this is ideal for you. If you want to do so then this is ideal. If you like wine and maps then this is interesting if not useful. If you, like me, are happy buying muscadet and merlot but have no real desire to take your wine buying much further then this is probably not for you. So, interesting but impractical for most of us but excellent for the right audience.