Last week in my continuing saga as judge in the Georges Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year Awards, we took a look at the finalists that didn’t make my cut into the “top three” votes for the award (and gave away a copy of Charlie Olken’s excellent New Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wine and Wineries in the process).
This week, we’re going to look at the three that did make that cut, with my explanations as to why I chose them, exactly as I reported them to the folks running the GD awards this year. They’re listed after the jump in descending order, ending with my personal #1 pick for the award. The official winner will be announced next week at Duboeuf’s annual Beaujolais Crus preview in New York on May 24.
This week, we’re giving away a copy of one of those ‘top three’ books – Mark Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine: Pleasure, Value, and Adventure Beyond Wine’s Usual Suspects!
Same drill as last week, people: you comment, and in one week I’ll randomly select a winner from the list of commenters!
You can see exactly where Mark’s latest release fell in my top three after the jump (for more on Mark, check out the interview I did with him back in October) – to make a long story short, his latest book kicks all kinds of wine learning ass. The main reason I picked Brave New World of Wine as one of my three finalists, however, was because Mark’s book reminds us of something that I think we spend too much tome forgetting – inherently, wine is supposed to make us happy; it’s supposed to bring joy, delight and (at the high end) some artistic measure to our days.
Do we miss the trick too much, and too often forget about the joy that wine is supposed to bring to us? Shout it out in the comments for a chance to win!
Enjoy – and good luck!…
3) The Finest Wines of Bordeaux: A Regional Guide to the Best Châteaux and Their Wines (Fine Wine Editions) By James Lawther MW (about $25)
Another book about Bordeaux? Really? Do we really need this? Turns out the answer is “Yes.” Lawther’s book is a great addition to the Finest Wines… series, all of which are visually stunning books and thankfully avoid the massive weight and size of the coffee-table-style that seems to be de rigueur in wine publication. The book works because it also doesn’t fall prey to one of the other trappings of the wine media world, which is to laud storied Chateaux without ever touching on more controversial topics, or ever saying that their wine quality suffered, or ever talking about the human beings behind those expensive releases.
This book matters because it deftly includes those elements that other takes on Bordeaux miss, and at its heart is a humanist take on what, after all, is a very human endeavor: creating wines that are meant to stand the test of time and set the bar for the world’s best reds. Lawther has the knowledge to turn a small space on each producer – a few paragraphs, usually – into a knowledgeable mini-treatise on the people, the places and wines that come from them. It’s certainly one of the best takes on Bordeaux ever produced.
2) Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine: Pleasure, Value, and Adventure Beyond Wine’s Usual Suspects By Mark Oldman (about $15)
With this new release, Mark Oldman has matched the level of achievement of his first book, which I consider to be one of the best entry-level wine books ever produced. That in and of itself is impressive. In the pages of Brave New World of Wine, he offers up wine recommendations slightly off the beaten path, meant to expand wine knowledge beyond the basics and focusing on a topic often totally disregarded in the context of learning wine appreciation: delight. And he does it in a casual, accessible writing style, and a somewhat-less-accessible but easily-learned system of icons/badges to help navigate his wine recommendations – and they’re recommendations that don’t requiring expending your bank account.
In the process Oldman – somehow, almost impossibly – makes the strange, esoteric, and nigh-unpronounceable of the wine world seem fun, interesting and cool. The book comes off as bit devil-may-care, but that clearly belies an intense amount of research and knowledge on Oldman’s part and the result is a reference that will prove indispensible to intermediate wine lovers, particularly in the U.S. market.
1) Reading between the Wines By Terry Theise (about $15)
Terry Theise’s opinionated treatise on why wine is important as an art might be the most important wine book written since the turn of the century, and I am actually stating that without trying to add any hyperbole. This is not a book for the casual wine fan – it’s a love-letter to anyone who cares deeply about wine, to anyone who’s ever really found themselves transfixed by a fine wine, to anyone who’s ever spent the time to really listen to what a true wine of place was trying to whisper to them.
The presentation of the book is sparse, and it works because the words are what are really important here. Theise has managed to create a work just as subtle, well-crafted, opinionated, unique and characterful as the style of wines that he champions in his “day job.” If there’s a better written work that stands as a convincing argument as to why we should treat wine as an art form – with all of the implications of how we appreciate it sensually as well as mentally – I’ve yet to read it.
31 thoughts on “Georges Duboeuf Wine Book Of The Year Awards, Concluded (“Best Of The Best” Giveaway!)”
Thanks for doing this Joe. I have not yet read any of these books, but both Oldman and Theise are on my reading list. If only the public library would carry more wine books!
Thanks, dc – good point about the libraries, I wonder why their wine selections always seem to shallow n terms of volume…
Haven't read any of those books. Definitely need to add them to my summer reading list. I love your mention of Oldman's book reminding you that wine is supposed to make us happy! I agree wholeheartedly. There's too much seriousness in the world right now… let's just relax sometimes and enjoy the simple pleasures that wine brings us! Cheers
Thanks, Mary – the wine biz does seem guilty of doing that, doesn't it? Or maybe it's actually the people talking about the wine biz who are most guilty? :)
I think I'll pick up the Terry Theise book to read on vacation.
Joel – that book really hit home with me, which is blatantly obvious I am sure from the post. If you love wines with real *soul* to them, you will dig that book. Cheers!
Thanks, Emma – "we are meant to enjoy and understand wine at the same time" Amen to that!
Hi Joe – Thanks for taking the time to tell us about these books. I love finding out about new wine books. Mark Oldham's book has been on my to-read list since it came out, and I like your reminder: wine certainly is supposed to make us happy. I hadn't heard of Terry Thiese's book, but it sounds beautiful and unusual and will definitely be added to my list.
Alice Feiring's book is next up in the pile of wine books on my coffee table…
Thanks, Lesley! Oddly, I've not yet read Alice's book! One more for the queue! :)
I just happened upon your blog and I've not heard of these books of which you speak. I do LOVE to drink wine and I hope I can become more of a connoisseur. Gotta love the internet!
PS, i love your disclaimer, and I always use my superpowers for good!
Thanks, Lorene! Glad to hear that you've joined the Justice League with your commitment to the disclaimer! :)
Yes yes Joe! Forgetting the joy of wine – or not being real enough about the way we share it – is one of the main reasons for the steady decline in wine consumption in South Africa. Wine-specific media and marketers, self-proclaimed commentators and other cork dorks, have robbed potential wine fans of a life-long love affair. Sharing with passion without dumbing down: therein lies the rub!
I read "Reading Between the Wines" by Terry Theise and loved it. If people are looking for a book that chronicles one man's journey in wine and the phenomenal people he has met along the way – this is it. By the end of the read, you will also likely be heading to your wine shop to stock up on Reisling and Austrian Gruner Veltliner! Cheers, Joe
Thanks, Albert – I can personally attest that RBTW will make you head out for a European white wine buying binge! Cheers!
Hi Joe, I haven't read those books either but have read some of Terry's earlier stuff – quotable for sure. Yet the point you made about wine is supposed to be about joy and happiness, hit home. Most wine writing and judging takes wine into the numbers game, and heavy competition. If we can't enjoy wine, what's the point, isn't that why the wine gods gave it to us humans? Cheers!
Hi Sondra – You know, I like competition as much as the next guy (probably more, actually), and I like pitting anything against a group of its peers to see how it comes out on the other end. Having said that, though, the closer something gets to art, the less I like having it compete for anything. And in the best cases, wine is art (you of course know this, you create visual art from it! :-) Cheers!
Definitely can take the joy out of it. If someone gives me a glass of wine and says "this is incredible" – but I hate it – I feel inadequate. Have to put that aside.
Carinne – interesting, because for me I never had any qualms about having a different viewpoint on wine than someone else when tasting. Maybe I've always been too arrogant or confident or some combo., but I even told Jancis Robinson I disagreed with her when tasting in Portugal last year so I've got a pretty serious confidence streak… :).
But then, when you know what you like, you know what you like, and the only one who can ever be an expert on that is you. :)
If Terry's book is as entertaining as his wine catalog, I can easily see how it earned its position. Excellent share!
Wine bringing joy just for the sake of joy…last week, after endless rains, the sun came out and I was standing in front of my tasting room with the door open absorbing sun when my neighboring tasting room hostess brought me a pink wine, a Graziano Sangiovese Rosato, released just that day in the tasting room. As I sipped, the UPS man showed up with a delivery for me of wines to be tasted, two white Bordeaux and two pink Bordeaux. Late that afternoon, after work, at an inter-winery mixer, I tasted yet another pink wine. Not fancy, not serious, although the Graziano was pretty damn good. I was reminded of every great pink wine from the Rosatos of Petroni and Muscardini to the Brut Rose of Bollinger. The day's wines were calling out to celebrate the end of winter and our too long winter-like spring, a joyous welcoming of summer. I am loving my new Jack Reacher paperback by Lee Child, but the end is rushing to meet me. I would be delighted if Mark Oldman's Brave New World of Wine were to follow on Reacher's heels.
Great reminder of the joy of wine (and pinks). Thanks, John!
I would love to read any of these books, I am sure they would be more intertaining the my WSET textbook and study guide. My intelligence is continuosly growing and look to boot. Hook a sister up. Mo Wine!
But I can't spell entertaining correctly,lol. Sorry need more coffee and a little less wine.
@nyshirazgirl – Well, we'll still count you in the random drawing despite the spelling errors. I remember the WSET very well, and think I was temporarily spelling-impaired afterward so I can identify with your pain. Good luck!
Joe – I very much enjoyed Terry Theise's book. Reminded me I need to take more time to stop and smell the wine so to speak. I just returned from visiting my daughter in Portland, OR and I read John Hartsock's "Seasons of a Finger Lakes Winery" on the plane rides out and back. Wonderful story and a must-read for anyone considering opening their own small craft winery. Gives you a great sense of the challenges and pleasures of running your own winery. Evan Dawson's book is next up on my wine book reading list.
BTW – Evan's book is a great read.
Just officially announced: our giveaway book was named the Georges Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year winner. Congrats to Mark on another well-deserved accolade: http://is.gd/fB90oY
We have a winner – thanks, all!
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