© 1998 JDM Enterprises
NEW WINE HANDBOOKby Jerry D. Mead
If you want one book in your library on West Coast wines and wineries, plus the general basics of winemaking, wine geography, vintages, wine grapes, wine types and even wine jargon and terminology, then you want the fully revised and updated fourth edition of The Connoisseurs' Handbook of the Wines of California and the Pacific Northwest ($20) by Norman Roby and Charles Olken. If it was a wine, we'd score it in the high 90s for quality and value.
And it makes a great gift if it's knowledge you want to give. If you want to impress someone with an expensive gift, there are fancy, hardbound coffee- table books, of which this is not one.
Olken is co-publisher of the newsletter Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wines, while Roby is a correspondent for the magazine Decanter and was a long time columnist for The Wine Spectator. These guys know their stuff.
More than 1000 wineries in California, Washington, Oregon and Idaho are covered. Each listing tells you about the background of the winery, what it does best and rates recent vintages. Some listings are as short as a paragraph, others take up a couple of pages.
It does not list winery addresses and phone numbers, but there are dozens of wine touring books with that kind of information, and virtually no other that contains the depth of information that this book does.
Criticism? Previous editions have all been in a deluxe leatherette hardbound format with high quality paper and sold for $27.50. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf lowered the quality of the paper in this edition (400-plus pages), went to a trade paperback format, didn't lower the price that much and barely got it out in time for the holidays. It should be available at major bookstores or can be ordered via the mails at (800) 845-9463.
In the 90s, they sold to Japanese interests, but you'd never know it. There are Raymonds everywhere. Raymonds run the vineyards, supervise the winemaking, administration and communications and there are family members in sales and marketing too. Corporations are usually lying when they say they're going to have a hands-off policy regarding a property recently purchased. It has been several years now, and this corporate owner has kept its word and left the professionals in full control.
Raymond 1997 "Napa Reserve" Chardonnay ($15) Ripe tropical fruit flavors with a subtle but effective use of oak. There's a hint of apricot. Long finish. Rating: 89/87
Raymond 1995 "Napa Reserve" Pinot Noir ($18) From a winery best known for its Cabernets, the Pinots just keep getting better. Big, bold, mouthfilling glass of Pinot with ripe black cherry fruit. Visions of companion foods include duck in a not-to-sweet cherry sauce, prime rib and sweetbreads. Rating: 92/86
Raymond 1996 "Napa Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon ($20) Black cherry, blackberry and black currant. Smoke and cedar complexity. Very mouthfilling and rich with no harsh tannins. Rating: 90/85
Wines are scored using a unique 100 point system. First number rates
quality; second number rates value. |
© 1998 JDM Enterprises.
All Rights Reserved|
The Mead On Wine WebSite is designed, maintained and hosted by Wines on the Internet.