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Tuesday, October 11, 2011


the best producers and their wines (University of California Pr., 2011,
320 pages, ISBN 978-0-520-26921-7, $34.95 paper covers) is by Jesus
Barquin, Luis Gutierrez and Victor de la Serna, all wine writers and
Spanish wine experts living in Spain. The book is one of an illustrated
series created by The World of Fine Wine magazine. These are guides to
the classic regions and their producers, vineyards and vintages. As
Hugh Johnson, one of the editorial team, would say "These are the wines
most worth talking about". Thus far, the company Fine Wine Editions has
looked at Champagne, Tuscany, California, and Bordeaux. This book is
"The World's Finest Wines, 5" in the series, co-published with Quarto
Group in the UK. The format is pretty straight-forward at this point,
with Hugh Johnson giving many of the forewords their lustre. There's
material in about 50 pages on history, culture and geography, along
with winemaking, grapes, and viticulture. Then comes the biggest
section: producers and their wines, sub-arranged by region. The 250
pages here cover Rioja, Navarra, Bierzo, Rias Baixas, and the Basque
country. Then there is a final 25 pages on wine appreciation, vintages,
top-ten tables, glossary, bibliography, and how (and where) to buy
well-matured Riojas. The glossary defines "gran reserva", but only the
modern new term. The older usage, pre-EU, applies to many of the more
mature vintages that the authors so strongly exhort. This needed a
clearer explanation, for these older wines were in barrel more than the
24 months now specified. It's a bit misleading. The photography is
mainly centred on the producers. Overall, an excellent guide to the
Audience and level of use:  the serious wine lover who also loves to
read, reference libraries and wine schools.
Some interesting or unusual facts: best-ever Riojas include Vina
Tondonia Gran Reserva Blanco 1964, Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial
Blanco 1946, Torre Muga 1994, Monte Real 1964, and the Marques de
Riscal Cuvee Medoc 1945 (the latter is at the top of the list).
The downside to this book: I think I may have liked just a book on
Rioja without the other regions.
The upside to this book: there's a ribbon bookmark.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

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