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What Price Bordeaux? (September 3, 2009)

book review
by Dean Tudor, www.deantudor.com

What Price Bordeaux? (Vendange Press, 2009, 292 pages, ISBN 978-1- 934259-20-7, $34.95 US hard covers) is by Benjamin Lewin, Master of Wine. As a long-time academic and writer of molecular biology, Lewin is now focusing on wine. In his first book (there are more on the way), he gives an overview of the financial forces making Bordeaux wines so pricey today.

He scrutinizes the 1855 classification, looking at the original motives and its modern relevance. The real value of this classification was to promote the value of the properties contained therein, to perpetuate the class structure and the pecking order. He investigates the unique terroir of chateaux, the many brands they market, the negociant-broker setup, the en premeur system, the influence of wine writers and winemakers such as Robert Parker or Michel Rolland, and the rise and fall of individual chateaux through ownership changes amongst banks and insurance companies.

He proposes a reclassification based on his forensic investigations. He would like fewer than half of the chateaux to retain their original classification, and he would like to drop several altogether.

Throughout the book, there are colourful graphs and charts clearly illustrating his points. There is also a bibliography and many pages of end notes.

Audience and level of use: A good marketing book, useful for Bordeaux specialists and wine schools.

Some interesting or unusual facts: Find out who is really making money in Bordeaux.

The downside to this book: Physically, the book is hefty to hold – this is because of the coated paper needed for the colour charts.

The upside to this book: A must read, gripping in its intensity.

Quality/Price Rating: 92.

 

 

 

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