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Friday, April 5, 2013


 AMERICAN WINE; the ultimate companion to the wines and
wineries of the United States (University of California Press,
2013, 278 pages, ISBN 978-0-520-27321-4, $50US hard covers) is a
co-production between Mitchell Beazley-Hachette in the UK and
the U of C Press. The authors are the well-known Jancis
Robinson, editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine and co-editor
of The World Atlas of Wine, and Linda Murphy, a Beard winner and
former wine section editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. It is
a comprehensive survey of wineries in the US, which rose from
440 producers in 1970 to more than 7,000 today, over 40 years
later. The IWSR has predicted that wine consumption between 2012
and 2016 will increase by some 14%, and thus even more wineries
will be created. Every state has some wineries. Yet I am amazed
that only half the book deals with California. Given how many
important wineries that state contains, I would have thought 2/3
of the book would be a good start. There are 54 maps and 200
photos, organized by region or AVA. It is fairly comprehensive
in providing thumbnails for each region, with data on grape
varieties, acreage, key wineries (subdivided by mere mentions
within categories such as "trailblazers", "steady hands" [i.e.
reliable], "superstars", and "ones to watch" [i.e. innovators]).
The book also covers history (Prohibition, evolution of AVAs,
celebrities buying wineries, new winemaking techniques such as
micro-oxygenation, and a return to old winemaking with
sustainable, natural, organic, and biodynamic principles
(sometimes referred to as SNOB, but not in this book). The maps
are very useful, and are of the same quality found in The World
Atlas of Wine. However, the book did not make me thirsty, for
there are no tasting notes.
Audience and level of use: armchair travelers, those interested
in US wines.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: As the publisher
notes, "The book takes readers on a journey through fields and
cellars, covering the winemaking, history, culture and
viticulture of each region."
The downside to this book: not enough details on individual
The upside to this book: good maps and reproductions of labels.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

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