Posts Filed Under wine books
With some crazy travel happening in the short term, I’m making the executive decision to go ahead and give you the September 2017 edition of the monthly wine product review roundup a bit on the early side (rather than scrambling to get my act together on it at the end of the month, which is my usual MO).
I have some reservations about both of the non-edible products from this month’s sample pool, so let’s begin with the item sporting the fewest of saidreservations:
The Winemakers of Paso Robles by Julia Perez & Paul Hodgins (328 pages, $119)
This impressive tome, almost equal parts gorgeous photographs and Paso Robles winemaker profile pieces, began as a Kickstarter project and has seen a recent surge in media and press (within the US fine wine sphere, anyway). And when I write “impressive,” I do mean impressive. As in, Darth-Vader-in-The-Empire-Strikes-Back levels of impressive.
Perez’s stunning photos are the focus of this coffee-table book, with Hodgins’s prose providing the support. The profiles, while not exactly fluff pieces, tend towards the lifestyle-magazine tone of prose; not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly not without leaving you with a good sense of what drives the winemakers of Paso to do what they do so well. But if it’s controversy that you’re after, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The reservation comes from the book’s size and price (and weight); all are pretty hefty. It’s not as though you’re getting ripped off – far from it – but this is a coffee table book that’s damn nearly the weight of a coffee table. In paging through it, I kept thinking that a) I can’t read this in bed, because it will crush my sternum, and b) it might behoove these guys to put out a smaller, less expensive (and lighter?) soft-back edition…
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In this too-steamy month’s round up of non-drinkable wine product samples, I’ve got two items to highlight that I can recommend without nary a reservation; and for me, when it comes to putting wine products to the test, that’s the wine scribe’s equivalent of a tall, cold glass of Soave on a hot Summer’s day.
First up is one of the Wall Mounted Wine Racks by Ultra Wine Racks (about $75); they sent me the 3ft x 1 (wine bottle) deep version, but there are several configurations from which you can choose (though the options that are multiple bottles “deep” are probably best employed in retail, restaurant, or wine cellar/storage spaces).
The bottom line is that these mostly-metal wall-mounted puppies are well-made, sturdy, and look great once installed (note that the larger you go on these racks, the more important it will be to find a stud on which to mount them… holy crap, that whole sentence fragment sounds mildly, obnoxiously sexual, doesn’t it?). Installation is relatively straightforward, but will definitely require a level, and will go much faster if you have a second person (ask me how I know) to help stabilize the racks when positioning them for the mounts, etc.
What I liked most about the Ultra Wine Rack kit was that, with the exceptions of a drill and a screwdriver, it comes with everything that you need to install and maintain it, including anchors, spare parts, and even a screwdriver drill bit, just in case. If you’re in the market for combining wine storage with some crowing/showing-off of special bottles as a side benefit, then you should take a serious look at these…
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Here we are again… and by “we” I mean “me,” waxing not-so-poetic about some of the samples that I receive that cannot be imbibed (at least, not without the use of a blender and several thousand dollars in resultant medical bills).
This month, I’ve got two items to recommend, though I do so with slight reservations.
First up, there’s the recently-released 3rd Edition of The Complete Bordeaux: The Wines, The Chateaux, The People (Mitchell Beazley, $75) by the venerable Brit Stephen Brook. Brook (with whom I’ve judged in wine competitions) has thirty-five years of writing experience – and about the same number of published books – to his credit, and if one reads carefully through The Complete Bordeaux, one will be able to tell that he is a master of the English language. At first, his writing style might seem downright reticent; it’s certainly restrained. But as the paragraphs unfold in pages of the detailed profiles of pretty much anything that is of vinous significance in Bordeaux, you come away with the sense that Brook has mastered his subject, and is presenting it in the most concisely efficient prose possible. It helps that he has coverage of the topic that is both wide and deep; Brook has tasted back vintages of just about every Bordeaux house that has ever mattered.
If The Complete Bordeaux suffers from anything, it’s a relative lack of photographs and detailed maps for a tome of this size (over 700 pages) and price. It also suffers from a wine market in which Bordeaux has arguably never been less relevant, at least when it comes to a now-prevalent younger generation of drinkers. That’s hardly Brook’s fault, of course; so if you’re a Bordeaux lover, this is as comprehensive and as valuable a reference as you are likely to find…
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Closing out the fourth month of 2017’s spin around the sun here on 1WD means that it’s time for the monthly look at the wine product samples that we can’t drink (at least, not without the use of a blender, and not without probably being rushed to the hospital afterward).
For April, I’ve got only one recommendation, and once again it’s a wine book (because, hey, the market needed more of those, right?): Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan’s Rosé Wine: The Guide to Drinking Pink (Sterling Epicure, 184 pages, about $20).
Full disclosure: I consider Simonetti-Bryan to be like the childhood tomboy friend that I never had, and drink rosé wines all year long (and think that you should, too); so my take on this MW’s latest written release might be a tad biased.
In any case, there’s a lot to like about Rosé Wine, starting with the attractive layout and the hold-it-in-one-hand-while-drinking-a-glass-of-rosé-with-the-other design. This is a book very much geared towards beginners who love rosé, and want to take a deeper dive into it without getting the mental bends. A good portion of the book is devoted to understanding how rosé wine is made, why it’s popular, and what to expect from the various sub-styles on offer in the market (with solid recommendations in each that helpfully include label shots).
Simonetti-Bryan is a bit of a self-professed geek, and it’s nice to see how deftly and entertainingly she weaves that geekiness into the sidebar elements of Rosé Wine. For example, she offers advice on the proper use of the word varietal, facts and figures on moderate alcohol consumption, tidbits on wine region trivia, and results of wine-related scientific studies, all in helpful contexts and in a decidedly non-douchebaggy writing voice.
Is Simonetti-Bryan cashing in on the current market love affair with rosé with this book? Sort of, but that’s a minor cavil to levy against Rosé Wine, particularly when you consider how helpful and entertaining it will be to the novice rosé fan (and when you consider just how little coin wine books net for their authors in general).