The 2014 edition of the Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book is again excellent, each year it brings the latest information on the state of art with respect of all better wines made worldwide. If you are a wine lover and want to be kept up to date on the latest developments and vintages, this handy pocket book is certainly a must. The strongest feature is the information on the French and especially the Bordeaux wines, the latter having a special section. As I have mentioned earlier for the 2013 edition, there is no mentioning of the wines of the Netherlands. Since their quality has improved considerably in recent years, they could also be given a page like presently Luxembourg, or perhaps within a section BeNeLux together with Belgium and Luxembourg. Each year has a different colour supplement at the back of the book, this time on Burgundy and other Pinot Noirs. Compared to the 2013 edition there are many updates, so for a few pounds you are kept well informed. The framework and the presentation of information has remained unchanged over the years, so keep your earlier editions for reference!
I have had a good look through this book and there is no doubt that it does contain a vast amount of detailed information. I know I will refer to this guide when deciding which wines to buy and I will certainly look up wines on lists in restaurants from now on. My only reservation is that the print is rather small so a magnifying glass would be useful. This is the only reason for giving the book a 4 star rating.
'Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book' was first published in 1977; a lot of wine has flowed under the bridge since then but its Author remains in remarkably fine fettle; a veritable fountain of wisdom with regard to all things vinous.
The format of this book has changed little over the years. A largely reliable compendium of what's worth drinking and what's not in a World of many wines. The contents are arranged by country of production with France and Italy dominating. Thereafter grower/producer titles, pointers to worthy vintages and brief descriptive notes are both easy to navigate and surprisingly informative despite Mr Johnson's mandate to maintain an economical brief (336 crammed pages).
The 2014 edition includes an interesting feature on Burgundy and other Pinot Noirs.
I have only recently become interested in drinking wine, i always thought it tasted like sour vinegar.
However i was recently taken to a very posh hotel with a very expensive dinner and tried a bottle of £150 red wine. It was like liquid silk in my mouth, cant remember what it was though but that old saying you get what you pay for springs to mind.
I grabbed this to try and educate myself further, and i have found some lovely selections from it already.
Obviously you dont want to be spending hundreds on a bottle everytime and i liked the star rating.
Essentially this is a list of the world's wine producers, with a star rating and a few comments.
But somehow it manages to be more than that. The introduction sets the scene with a very personal view from the author, making clear what he likes and does not like about how wine has changed since the first of these annual guides in 1977. Having described himself as a conservative at heart, what comes across is that he is genuinely excited about the direction wine producers around the world are going to produce great wine, and it is not all about expensive wines either. It is great to hear that "the choice of enjoyable wines [is] growing so fast that no agency, certainly on individual, and even this book only by superhuman effort, can keep up."
Given how many wines are listed, the entries have to be kept simple but within that there is plenty of information, with comments, a star rating and the recommended vintages to buy, highlighting the one to drink this year. He highlights his (self confessed subjective) personal recommendations with coloured stars, for ones especially good for their price range from every-day to luxury wines. This makes them easy for the reader to pick out in the sea of black print, and is a nice touch.
To break the lists on each page up a bit, there are little asides on thinks such as places that are fun to visit, apps to use, famous fans of particular wines and up and coming vineyards to watch.
My first time getting this annual guide and I can thoroughly recommend it. Ideal stocking filler for the wine drinker in your life.
Mankind has been fermenting / enjoying the fruit of the vine for several thousand years. Today there are so many wines available from so many outlets - specialist and supermarkets - (and at so many price ranges despite the obscene UK levels of tax - based on alcohol content and not intrinsic value or quality of the wine.). How is one to select from so many options and price ranges? This little tome is small enough (just) to keep in the pocket for when visiting restaurants to guide one through their offerings. It is remarkably free of the usual pretentious twaddle which used to be associated when discussing wine. Started in 1977, this is a 300 page mini encyclopaedia for those who cannot afford or do not wish to carry the World Atlas of wine everywhere. It is annually updated to cover the latest news on wine vintages, quality and new developments from round the world by country or region. There are sections on matching wine with food types, ideas to try something new (if you like this try...) There are the traditional vintage years ratings for round the world with summaries of key vineyards and areas and grape types .There is also a short specialist article on the rise and rise of Pinot Noir. As wine " quality" varies with the harvest ( weather conditions and "maintenance of the land") , there are good and bad years ( really better and best for the top vineyards) the better / best years are highlighted. Particularly important for the " Old world" wines , less so for the new where wine making is more automated giving more consistent ( but less outstanding) wines. For those who want a more encyclopaedic approach (How wine is made, its history and in depth views of the wine regions), seek out the World Atlas of Wine (Hugh Johnson / Jancis Robinson) - I review this separately. Are there any downsides? Well in a book of this size it is small print and the data is compressed but the individual vineyards are listed alphabetically so finding them is not difficult. Whatever your attitude to wine , this little gem will add to your knowledge and enjoyment. Recommended
This is a nice compact book with easy to read and straightforward text. This is a guide for real people who drink wine for pleasure and not to impress. It will give you confidence to try new wines - there's a good section on.... if you like this, then try this...
I've had a number of these guides and this is one that I am pleased to have updated. There are other, heavyweight tomes which give more information about the wine making industry but this is one of the best for the causal and semi-serious wine buyer. Not trendy but solid and reliable.
I am somewhat wary of reference sources on wine because I don't want to become an anorak on the subject and there can be a bit of pretentiousness about the subject. However, this was a refreshing little number, light on the palate, full of body (336 pages) with plenty of highlights but without any after taste of wine snobbery.
It is well written, informative and very readable, something that you can dip into for tipple sized pieces of information as the mood takes without feeling overwhelmed by technical jargon (everything is well explained).
Hugh takes you through the varieties of grapes (I never knew there were so many) before suggesting wines to drink with certain foods, although he does point out that you won't go far wrong combining food you like with wine that you like.
Wine producing countries of the world are covered in some detail including the quality of vintages and the weather conditions that affected them.
I am certainly no expert when it comes to wine although I know my likes and loves as well as some of the types of wine I choose to avoid. Now, with this book, I can expand my tastes and try new things without it being a shot in the dark.
Overall, the sort of book that someone who enjoys wine, wants a little guidance on the good, the bad and the indifferent and appreciates an understanding of what lies behind the taste.