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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

* DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH! * -- Wines of South America

WINES OF SOUTH AMERICA; the essential guide (University of California Press, 2014, 302 pages, ISBN 978-0-520-27393-1, $39.95 US hard covers) is by Evan Goldstein, a Master Sommelier with his own consulting firm. Previously, he had authored two books for UC Press on wine and food matching. Here, he conducts a country-by-country tour of South America, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay plus Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. He begins with an overview and grape varieties grown (along with acreage by country: did you know that Chile has 10 acres of Tannat?). For each country, he gives a history and some notes on "game changer" people. This is followed by a region-by-region analysis, with maps and recommended producers. Each country concludes with some winery profiles with directory information, what wines it is known for, its signature wines, and occasionally a black and white photo. But no real tasting notes. The maps and statistics are generally uptodate. He has a list of significant and important wines to try, and I find it rather disheartening that most are not available in Ontario since they cost more than $20. At the end he has sections on touring, dining, and selecting wines. But he does need to devote more words and space to some wine terms such as Reserva and Gran Reserva, which are appearing more frequently on South American wine labels in order to differentiate wines on the shelf.
Audience and level of use: wine lovers, reference libraries, schools of hospitality and wine schools.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay lead the way for whites, while Bonarda, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot have the largest acreage for the reds.
The downside to this book: the scene is so volatile and expanding that it is hard to keep up with in book form.
The upside to this book: good insight, and an indication of problem areas.
Quality/Price Rating: 92.

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