Yesterday in 2008 wine books Part 1 we recommended some books out this year that try to introduce newcomers to wine, but what about new reading material for those of us who are already committed wine nuts?
I think my top 2008 recommendation as a reference book would be Clive Coates’ The Wines of Burgundy, published by the University of California Press, which has recently become the most energetic wine book publisher I know. This is a hefty volume which is in effect a fully revised version of his Côte d’Or published a decade ago so there is a certain amount of duplication. But the producer profiles, which are to me the most interesting aspect of books such as this (although there are thousands of tasting notes, and useful vintage assessments too), seem to have been updated conscientiously. The untimely death of Philippe Engel and subsequent acquisition of the vineyards by François Pinault is included, even if the name of the resulting sister property to Ch Latour, Domaine d’Eugénie, is not. For years, Remington Norman’s The Domaines of Burgundy was the best reference but sadly it is now pretty out of date and this new book nicely takes its place.
There are of course the usual annuals and it’s good to see Wine Report 2009 edited by Tom Stevenson and published by Dorling Kindersley again – not least because it is such a useful complement to the best of the winery-by-winery annuals, Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2009 (Mitchell Beazley), that is always so miraculously comprehensive (even if I’m sure we all have a few additions we’d like to make).
For a good read, you could always try Corkscrewed by Robert Camuto, an American who fell in love with France and some of her more individual wine producers – a sort of Adventures on the Wine Route Rides Again. The University of Nebraska Press must be one of the more unexpected wine book publishers.
I believe we Brits have to thank another pair of Americans, Dick Ward and David Graves of Saintsbury winery in Carneros, who ensured that we have an attractive re-issue of George Saintsbury’s Notes on a Cellar-Book, intelligently edited and annotated by that California wine scholar Thomas Pinney. There is much food for thought here, and a facinating window on another age of connoisseurship. Not a score in sight, and again the University of California Press was responsible.
For comment on a wide range of other books published in 2008, see Wine writing – US v UK and feel free to add your own comments on wine books and wine writing below. Have I missed out anything wonderful?