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Monday, December 24, 2007

Book Review: Oz Clarke's Bordeaux

OZ CLARKE'S BORDEAUX; the wines, the vineyards, the winemakers
(Harcourt Inc., 2006; distr. Raincoast, 240 pages, ISBN 978-0-15-
101300-5. $43.95 hard covers) is by the ever-accessible Oz Clarke, who
has been following in every wine writer's footsteps (Johnson, Robinson,
et al) in popularizing wine lore. This latest book is being touted as
an "insider's guide", with profiles of the leading chateaux. Clarke is
master of the dictionary arrangement; indeed, his company is known as
"Webster". The main book is arranged by region: Medoc, Graves, Right
Bank, Cotes and Entre Deux Mers, and Sweeties. Each has its own A - Z
reviews of important chateaux. Internal cross-references are useful,
but of course there is an overall index at the back of the book. For
each chateau, there is a label and generic tasting notes with an
indication of "best years". The grapes used are listed. In the
beginning basic data chapters, Clarke runs through why Bordeaux
matters, grapes, styles, effect of Mouton Cadet, second wines produced,
viticulture, vinification, reading the label, and the effects of Emile
Peynaud and Michel Rolland, a student of Peynaud. There are aerial maps
and lots of overview photos. He concludes with an interesting chapter
on the future of Bordeaux. The 2003 vintage was a revelation,
especially in sales. There are profound changes augmented by the Robert
Parker fruit bombs, and a declining market for sales.
Audience and level of use: Bordeaux lovers, armchair tourists,
libraries, wine schools.
Some interesting or unusual facts: Bordeaux has 57 appellations, 250
classed growth wines, 10,500 growers, and produces over 800 million
bottles of wine a year.
The downside to this book: too many pix of Ozzie. Some typos (e.g.,
weened), vintage table only goes back to 1985 (it should go back to
1970, still in the marketplace).
The upside to this book: Clarke is open to suggestions about Bordeaux
look-alikes in other countries. He uses lots of photos and colour in
the affordable book.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

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