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Customer Review

on 20 February 2007
Though living in Belgium, I bought this wine buyer's guide out of curiosity, and I wasn't disappointed. The book is nicely structured, in a producer and a retailer section, with a number of articles and factboxes sprinkled in between. While the first half mainly deals with different growing regions, and groups the selected wines in different price brackets, the second part describes interesting wine shops in the UK and their particular strengths.

Nice wine recommendations in all price categories can be found all over this book, whose modest size allows it to be carried along to the shops (a practical aspect that is often ignored by other writers of comprehensive wine guides such as Robert Parker, to name but one). However, there is a downside to the book's limited size, and the result is what seems to me quite an arbitrary and one-sided selection of wines: a load of Australian and Austrian, and very few German wines are featured, for example.

I may be slightly biaised because I'm German, and I know that Austrian wines can be as outstanding as the Germans, but Oz Clarke hardly bothers to talk about the crisp and low-alcohol Mosel and Rhein rieslings (which don't have an equivalent in Austria or Australia). It all very well to talk extensively about Hunter Valley rieslings from Australia, but they are hardly representative of this particular grape variety. In a wine buyer's guide for the British market (where German wines have traditionally had a big share of the market, especially in lower price categories) that seems strange.

The book is of limited use for those living outside the UK as all prices are given in pound Sterling, and only British retailers are included. There are other guides more suited if you plan to visit wine growers in Europe or the New World.

Nonetheless, it is a good and useful guide for all wine drinkers - from beginners to freaks - who buy their bottles in the UK, including the occasional visitor.
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