Posts Filed Under book reviews

The Most Beautiful Wine Cellars In The World, Revisited (Now With Drool-Inducing Pics!)

Vinted on May 4, 2010 binned in book reviews

After my review last week of the newly-released book by Astrid Fobelets, Jurgen Lijcops, The Most Beautiful Wine Cellars In The World, I received requests (one in the comments, and a few more via email) for some pictures from that haughty tome.  After all, if you’re gonna drop upwards of $60 on a coffee table book, you want to know a bit about what you’re in for (well, a bit more than me telling you that it’s very pretty, anyway).

I’m happy to report that I received permission from the publisher, VdH Books, to share a few images with you, which I’ve watermarked and reduced in size from the hi-res to reduce the temptation of stealing them (not that any of you would do that, mind you, we’re just protecting the world from those thugs who might come and snatch them up after a Google image search…).

Anyway, five shots are included below, which are (in order of appearance): Château Neercanne (Netherlands), Radisson SAS Wine Tower (London),  Palais Coburg (Vienna), Weingut Brundlmayer (Austria) and the imposing Marques de Riscal (Spain).

Enjoy…

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The Most Beautiful Wine Cellars In The World

Vinted on April 29, 2010 binned in book reviews

In the music industry, we call it G.A.S.  As in, Gear Acquisition Syndrome – a desire to acquire more basses, guitars, whatever, usually brought on by exposure to an awesome instrument pick up made by an acquaintance.  In my “spare time” I run a social network for bass guitarists, so I have a lot of opportunity for G.A.S.-inducing exposure.  I mean, if you’re a bass player and you don’t instantly get G.A.S. looking at photos like this, then you probably don’t really have a pulse.

Envy or jealousy do not accurately describe G.A.S.; they have far too negative connotations, and G.A.S. isn’t negative – if anything, you’re happy for your friend who has picked up that awesome new instrument – it’s more like a form of addiction that plagues those who find themselves simultaneously straddling the roles of collector and experiencer.

Which is, of course, a scenario which wine lovers can easily appreciate, especially when visiting one of those enormous, kick-ass wine cellars full of potentially-amazing juice.

Which is why you probably shouldn’t even so much as look at the upcoming book The Most Beautiful Wine Cellars In The World by Astrid Fobelets, Jurgen Lijcops (about $60 from VdH Books, available in May 2010 – I received a preview copy).  It will very likely give you a serious case of wine G.A.S. …

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In Plain Sight (Uncovering Wes Walker’s “Hidden Napa Valley”)

Vinted on April 21, 2010 binned in book reviews

The first thing that you think (if you’re me, anyway) about the late Wes Walker’s Hidden Napa Valley ($19.95 from Welcome Books, I received an advanced sample copy of the newly updated edition) is how unexpectedly small it is.

At 7 and 1/4 inches square, you almost want to greet it with a cliche; “Oh, I’m sorry, it’s just that… well, I expected you to be taller”).

The second thing that you might think when seeing Hidden Napa Valley for the first time is that it’s just another book of beautiful photographs from the equally beautiful Napa Valley, the kind that tourists pick up from winery gift shops so they can take them home and later lament at how unbeautiful their hometowns are in comparison; another stone to hang around their heavy hearts as they sink into the miasmic depths of the discontent that only those who chase after the capitalist notion of the wine lifestyle can truly appreciate.

Or something like that, anyway.

Writing off Hidden Napa Valley can only ever be a temporary mistake for anyone who really knows the Valley, however; once you flip through its gorgeous pages you will, eventually, come across a photo that speaks to you, as if Walker had somehow, without ever knowing you, captured a private moment – some time when you let your guard down, willingly got sucked into the gorgeousness of it all, and that you thought was only known by you and Napa.

Walker probably knew that just about everybody that spends more than one vacation stop in Napa has had that moment…

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What Price Bordeaux: Bordeaux’s Loss of Identity By The Numbers

Vinted on March 29, 2010 binned in book reviews, commentary

Master of Wine and scientist Benjamin Lewin’s non-fiction book What Price Bordeaux has a title that, unlike many non-fictional works, is meant to convey a series of meanings or themes that are touched on at some point in the body of the work itself.

In this case, What Price Bordeaux refers, at turns, to

  • The skyrocketing prices of wines from Bordeaux’s top chateau, while its minor AOCs are in such crisis that they are forced to sell their wines for distillation in order to avoid bankruptcy.
  • The maddening opacity of Bordeaux’s wine business, which Lewin investigated intensely in the writing of his book, and where simple data points, such as the average price of a bottle of red Bordeaux in 2007, were hidden from him by the area’s professional organizations.
  • The 1855 Classification of Bordeaux’s top producers, which organized the “best” wines by price in the Medoc (Lewin boldly offers an updated, new classification in What Price Bordeaux, which contains some shockers in terms of who now ranks above whom in current Bordeaux market prices).
  • The loss of Bordeaux wines’ identities in favor of an “International” red wine style currently more popular with consumers and influential wine critics – resulting in skyrocketing price increases and occasional price crashes for high-end Bordeaux wines.

What Price Bordeaux contains enough fodder for a month’s worth of wine blog posts, but that would deny you the pleasures (and shock) of reading it (which I recommend that you do).  Instead, it’s the last point above that I want to talk about, concentrating on Chapter 10 (“The New Bordeaux”), which alone is worth the price of the book.

After reading Chapter 10 in Lewin’s book, I’ve grown increasingly convinced that Bordeaux wines are becoming more and more like those of the Napa Valley not just because they are chasing the elevated scores that wine critics give to that style of red wine, but also because they may have no other choice…

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