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Wine Report 2004
reviewed by Dean Tudor
 (February 9, 2004)

Wine Report 2004 (Dorling Kindersley, 2003, 384 pages, ISBN 0-7894-9630-5, $23 paper covers) is edited by Tom Stevenson, also author of the New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia and a book on Champagne (which he is generously giving away for free via the Internet).

This Wine Report is in its first edition as an annual; its success will ensure that there will be another next year. It is a totally different book from the normal guide or basic wine book. The book reports on what happened during the previous 12 months. It will never go out of date, so hang onto your copy.

The Wine Report is a sort of insider's guide to the world of wine, with the latest data from each wine region, plus tips on recent vintages and on your wine investments. There are sections for new wine finds, bargains, the latest harvests, wine science, and the greatest wines. The contents are arranged by country and region within, with local experts (each credited, and with a photo). Many have MWs. Writers include David Peppercorn on Bordeaux, Clive Coates on Burgundy, Nicholas Belfrage on Italy, Julian Jeffs on Sherry, John Platter on South Africa, Dan Berger on California, and our own Tony Aspler on Canada.

Each writer gets several pages for each region, and conveys an assessment of recent vintages and hard-hitting opinions, followed by key top ten type lists of the greatest wine producers, the fastest-improving producers, up-and-coming producers, best-value producers, greatest quality, best bargains, and "Most exciting or unusual finds." There are 40 contributors in all, which is the only way to write up something as comprehensive as this Wine Report. No one writer can keep abreast of it all and still offer a book at a decent price.

Other textual matters within each region are topics concerning personnel changes, mergers and acquisitions, new appellations, new wine laws, legal cases, new wines and changes and new vintages. Local prices of origin are also given, which is a boon (compare them to the Canadian or LCBO prices). There is also a large, useful section on resource tools (also written by individuals) which deals with organic wines, grape varieties, wine auctions, viticulture, and wine on the web (Tom Cannavan).

Some suggestions for improvement: an annual review (after a recap) of the existing book and magazine literature, email addresses for the contributors.
What I don't like about this book: some minor typos, such as QVA for VQA, and et all for et al (unless that was meant to be a joke), and "2003" was given at one point for 2002. Also, many of the contributors' photos are murky.
What I do like about this book: I don't think that there is a better wine book out there for the wine professional or sommelier, especially since just about everything in this book is NEW and promises to keep one fully informed and up to date.
Quality/Price Ratio: 98 – please buy this book to ensure next year's publication!

 

 

 

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