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Wine Report 2005 (August 26, 2004)

book review
by Dean Tudor

Wine Report 2005 (Dorling Kindersley, 2004, 432 pages, ISBN 0-7566-0506-7, $20 paper covers) is edited by Tom Stevenson, author of The New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia and other great and useful reference books.

This is book is now an annual; it first came out in 2004. This year's edition is 48 pages longer (some of that length comes from new chapters on the Low Countries, Luxembourg, and Scandinavia). The price has also dropped three bucks. The book reports on what happened during the previous 12 months. It will never go out of date, so hang onto your copy of the previous year.

The Wine Report is a sort of insiders' 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. Most of the team are back; there are 43 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.

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."

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, for now we can 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, commentaries on wine software programs (both inventory and professional winery management such as the Enologix), and email addresses for the contributors.

Audience and level of use: Assumes a certain level of knowledge; great for the business traveler wishing to be au courant with local wines.

Some interesting or unusual facts: A winery on Bali grows a crop every month; bioterrorism threatens Burgundy.

What I don't like about this book: Some minor typos persist, such as Danny Kay for Danny Kaye. Also, many of the contributor's photos are still murky. Caution: this book was set and ready to roll by summer 2004, so the cut-off for material was early 2004. This makes the book's coverage a year old by 2005, and thus mainly the picture for 2003. Not earth-shattering for rumours and gossip. In addition, at 432 clay-coated pages, the book is extremely heavy to pick up and lug around.
What I do like about this book: I do not 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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