NEW FALL TITLES:
Basics to Technical, Tequila to Olive Oil
Early Fall is a difficult time in the book business,
as many of the new titles for the Holidays have not yet arrived and with the rush to get all books out
in time for Christmas, publishers' schedules usually lag behind.
Thus, many of the 1997 Holiday Season books will appear in our next issue.
Over the summer months, though, some very interesting new titles have come
in, particularly what I refer to as professional or technical books.
Since I know from feedback that there are many winemakers who read this column, I will
review what looks like the most important technical book in years: CONCEPTS IN WINE
CHEMISTRY ($79.00), by Dr. Yair Margalit. The author is the Israeli chemist who is on the visiting faculty at UC
Davis, has a small winery in Israel and consults throughout Europe. He is also author of the
best-selling little technical book, WINERY TECHNOLOGY AND OPERATIONS, A Handbook
for Small Wineries ($29.95). His Chemistry book is a considerably greater effort, the result of six
years research and writing. Like his other book, it is very well organized, following the logical
sequence of wine making, starting with chemistry of the grapes and must and finishing in the
bottle. Along the way he covers all the elements of fermentation, technical problems that might
occur, and moves on to Phenolic Compounds, Aroma and Flavor, Oxidation and Aging, Oak
Products, Sulfur Dioxide, Cellar Processes, Wine Faults, Legal Aspects and ends with a fascinating
chapter on "Wine Chemistry of Old Times," a sort of history of wine production technology. Not being
a chemist myself, I checked out the accuracy of the science in this book with a friend who is the
retired department head of Chemistry from U.C. The science gets "straight A's". I believe that this
book will be very useful as a reference for anyone serious in the wine business (like M.W. candidates).
There is a very thorough index and substantial documentation of references for the scholar.
Hardbound, 448 pages. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Another book of interest to winemaking professionals is James T. Lapsley's
BOTTLED POETRY, Napa Winemaking from Prohibition to the Modern Era ($29.95). James is a
popular winemaking professor at U.C. Davis extension. He writes very warmly about a subject he
obviously loves but does so through the cool analytical eyes of a wine scientist. It is great to have
such a book from a practicing winemaker/historian/researcher. He pulls no punches and gives us
the kind of insight into the changes in the grape varieties, winemaking practices and market forces
that shaped Napa into what is today, the most respected quality wine production region of America.
Much of his keen observation comes from his first hand conversations with the winemaking greats
who shaped these trends such as Andre Tchelistcheff and Robert Mondavi. He covers "politics and
promotion," identifying the critical changes in vineyards and vinification, packaging and publicity that
drove Napa into the world spotlight. There has been a great deal of history made in Napa in the last
50 years and Lapsley knows who made it happen! It's a fast and pleasant read and everybody
connected with the California Wine Industry will have a hard time putting this book down.
Hardbound, 298 pages. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
For all you wine business executives out there, you will appreciate THE INTERNATIONAL
WINE TRADE ($95.00) by Pierre Spahni with a foreword by Hugh Johnson. This is a professional text
book that covers all of the world marketing trends in wine, the financial and administrative aspects of
the international trade and all the statistics, charts and graphs you will ever need to impress your boss
or shareholders. It is very current, covering the impact of recent developments such as NAFTA, GATT,
Tariff changes in the Far Eastern markets and more. I found his comments on the "likely overspill of
Eastern European wines diverted to Western Europe" and other factors we hear little about here in
the U.S. wine business very interesting. Hardbound, 330 pages. RECOMMENDED.
The interest in New Zealand wines is catching on in North America and there is great need
for the new FINE WINES OF NEW ZEALAND ($26.95) by Keith Stewart. This is a vertical tasting
guide to 650 of New Zealand's premium wines and there are descriptive sections on the top 30
wineries and brief biographies of the top winemakers. The tasting notes are detailed and descriptive
for each vintage along with essential data on the varietal composition, oak treatments, alcohol
contents and "best-drinking" recommendations. His best information is his discussion of the
development of each of the grape varieties in this location and it is interesting to learn how some
varieties are handled uniquely in New Zealand. There are no maps, but plenty of labels. Hardbound ,
205 pages. RECOMMENDED.
The other high interest wine geography of the world is South Africa. There has been a
paucity of good current information on the topic until the release of THE WINES OF SOUTH AFRICA
($16.95) by James Seely. This is a typical Faber & Faber wine series title, serious, authoritative, reliable
but dull. The author is a British wine merchant with several respected books to his credit and a number
of visits to S.A. to authenticate his research. The book follows the usual formula of history, regional
descriptions, specific vineyard/winery descriptions and tasting notes on the notable wines. He
provides all of the useful information, addresses and statistics required. I particularly liked his
overview of the S.A. wine industry today and analysis of the political/economic forces that have
upgraded their wines. The black and white maps are adequate and the index sound. He does have
the decency to note which estates he did not visit and thus could not comment on. Paperback, 300
There are so many little elementary books on wine coming forth from wine unknowns that
it is refreshing to get one from an acknowledged wine expert and author. 101 ESSENTIAL TIPS ON
WINE ($6.95) by Tom Stevenson is certainly the most attractive small wine book in years. Full color
illustrations, and photos are on every page in almost elementary school book style. This is a quick
read and reference with enough pictures to captivate a five year old. What is Wine? How is Wine
Made? Enjoying Wine and all of the other common topics are expeditiously handled in illustration and
text. The quality of the grape variety drawings and the different colors of wines in glasses is certainly
better than what you see in most wine books at 8 times the price. Paperback, 72 pages. HIGHLY
My column is not complete without at least one book on Spirits. THE BOOK OF TEQUILA,
A Complete Guide ($16.95) by Bob Emmons is exactly what the title says. Bob is an ex-cop from
Sacramento who has spent "years" tasting and researching Tequila. He did his research with field
workers to distillery owners, importers, restaurateurs and connoisseurs. Most folks don't know how
this fire water is produced and most do not even know that some is as fine as rare Cognac. He
provides a complete guide to the distilleries, the importers and even the Mexican laws controlling the
product. Margarita and other drink recipes and some great cooking recipes. Maps, statistics, glossary
and index. Paperback, 295 pages. RECOMMENDED.
I also promised the editor more food books. Olive Oil should qualify and I like the little BUYER'S
GUIDE TO OLIVE OIL ($12.95) by Anne Dolamore. This covers all of the essentials on Olive Oil,
explaining in detail the business about Virgin and other grading and blending practices. Extraction,
varieties, harvesting and how to taste and evaluate are included. She objectively gives
recommendations on the top brands, with tasting notes and description and reviews by country of
production, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and "others including California." Hardbound,
128 pages. RECOMMENDED.
Best of the Book Report
JANCIS ROBINSON'S WINE COURSE (VIDEO $99.95) This five tape series is as thorough
a collection of wine information as you're going to find on video. Produced for British Public
Television, it can be enjoyed by the novice and the expert will have great difficulty finding anything to
question or criticize.
RELIGION AND WINE ($15) by Robert C. Fuller, who is a professor of theology, covers
everything from wine and how it is used in traditional, recognized Christian and other faiths, to wine
in cults and early American religious endeavors such as Puritanism. If you believe in God, you will
love this book. If not, you might only like it a lot.
RHONE RENAISSANCE, The Finest Rhone Style Wines from France and the New World
($50), by Remington Norman, is one of the hottest new titles of the year. Everything you want to know
about these wines; 220 top estates profiled; 22 California producers and with tasting notes on 1500
individual wines. Detail info, too, on the important grape varieties of the region, Syrah, Viognier,
Mourvedre, Grenache and more.
MALT WHISKY FILE ($20) John Lamond and Robin Tucek have written the most
reliable and accurate books available on a category that includes many of the greatest whiskys in the
world, and that have only recently been discovered by so many Americans. "Single Malts" are like the
Cognacs of of the whisky world.
WINE FOR DUMMIES ($16.95) by Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan. Presented in
almost computer screen style, this is a book that can be used as a self-teaching manual, and you can
get out of it what you want. The novice can learn the basics; the sophisticated intermediate can learn
a thing or two, too. Mary is the only woman U.S. Master of Wine and Ed is a wine loving English
teacher, which explains the combination of good information and good reading.
GRANDS VINS, The Finest Chateaux of Bordeaux and Their Wines ($55.00) by Clive
Coates. This massive, large format book is the most comprehensive and current reference on the
There are in-depth articles on 100 different properties and vintage notes from the present
back to 1928. This is the essential book on Bordeaux today. It is lucid and pleasant reading and a
fascinating lesson in contemporary wine-making techniques and above all a celebration of preeminent
wines. Cloth, 736 pages.
SEASONS OF THE VINEYARD ($40) Robert Mondavi/ Margrit Biever/Carolyn Dille
do a very classy cookbook that was years in the making. It's a lifestyle cookbook that you'll find
yourself reading long after you've looked up the recipe. Beautifully illustrated.
University Wine Course ($35) by Marian Baldy, Ph.D. One of our best selling titles.
The wine reference work in terms of reliable science and technical information. Can be used
as a textbook, a home tutorial or a reference work. Evolved from the author's 20 years of teaching
about wine at California State University.
The Oxford Companion to Wine ($60.00) edited by Jancis Robinson, with
individual topics assigned to an impressive list of 75 international experts as contributing editors, this
giant tome is likely to become the standard reference for wine for the whole wide world. It's
1100 pages and might better be called The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Wine...it really does
cover it all and in depth. If you were going to have a one book wine library, this would have to be it.
Shortcuts To Wine, Everything The Wine Lover Needs To Know ($10.95) by
Ed Masciana. Accurate, reliable and user-friendly, what more could you ask for in a beginner's
book from a professional wine educator's own course material. Includes an unusual chapter on
how the business of wine works and why it costs what it does.
In Praise of Wine ($12.95) by Joni G. McNutt. An amazing collection of
wine-oriented quotes from every possible source and from throughout recorded history. From
the bible to Buchwald; Pliny the Elder to Louis Pasteur; Thomas Jefferson to King Henry VII. Some
of the more modern quotes are especially amusing, such as: "Warm Dom is better than cold Bud" or
"Wine, madam, is God's next best gift to man." If wine is your hobby, your business, a special part of
your life in any way, you'll definitely want this book in your library.
Favorite Recipes of California Winemakers ($9.95) With more than 900,000
copies sold, you just know it's a book that should be in your kitchen library. Originally published
in 1959, many of the recipes are family treasures which have been passed down for generations
from such famous wine family names as: Mondavi, Sebastiani, Parducci, Mirassou, Wente, Martini,
Concannon, Cella, Franzia, Gallo, Bacigalupi, Seghesio, Heitz, Ficklin and more. Would you believe
more than 500 recipes for $10?
The Napa & Sonoma Book, A Complete Guide ($17.95) by Timothy Fish and
Peg Melnik. One of the best Napa/ Sonoma wine books to come along is now in its second
edition (and totally revised) and doesn't even have wine in the title. It's a tour book, plain and
simple, but touring Napa and Sonoma means wine! While very strong on winery listings, maps and
directions, the book also covers history, transportation, lodgings, culture, restaurants & food
purveyors, recreation and shopping. It really is a "complete" guide.
Napa Valley, The Ultimate Winery Guide ($18.95) by Antonia Allegra is
handsomely produced paperback featuring some outstanding photography. All the usual guidance
information and most major Napa wineries are profiled. Very popular.
Sonoma, The Ultimate Winery Guide ($18.95) by Heidi Cusick. Same format as
Napa version...lots of pictures, wineries also listed by special interest such as history, special events
and specific geographic area. Don't leave home without it.
The Wine Atlas Of Italy And Traveller's Guide To The Vineyards ($50) by Burton
Anderson. Reprint of the original 1990 issue. Nothing has come along since to replace it. It is the
only reference on Italy this thorough. Every region explained in depth, with photos, maps and
statistics. Hardbound; large format. If you don't own it, better buy it before it goes out of print again.
Vines, Grapes & Wines ($39.95) Long out of print and in demand, this reprint
of the original 1986 edition still has a long and usual life. Everything you need to know about
virtually every grape you ever heard of. A must for every serious wine library.
The Wine Price File, 1997 Edition ($35) is "the" standard reference for the values
of collectable wines. Researched using both auction prices and major wine shop prices, for the most
accurate and comprehensive estimate of any wine's value.
WINE! The CD-ROM ($65) Michael Broadbent, Darrel Corti, Wolfgang Puck
and other experts. An entire wine library on a little disk. It will takes you days to explore and contains
information on everything from all the world's wine regions, to wine and health, wine and food
matching and even 7500 tasting notes complete with prices. Much more here than we have space
to describe. Very highly recommended and a great gift for wine lovers who have "almost" everything.
Wine With Food ($25) by Joana Simon. Everything from the basics and
physiology of taste, to the roles played by acidity, salt, sweetness and tannin and the role they
play in wine-food matches. How to plan menus to include wines, how to match the right wine to
a wide variety of regional cuisines and so much more. It's the book that people have been asking
for and will no doubt remain the standard in its field for many years to come.
A TRAVELER'S WINE GUIDE TO FRANCE ($17.95) by Christopher Fielden. An
all new edition of the popular title that has been out of print for several years, and it's one of our very
best sellers this season. Concise and complete, imagine a AAA guide written by a wine authority and
you'll have a pretty good idea of what this 144 page durable paperback is all about.
JANCIS ROBINSON'S WINE COURSE (THE BOOK) ($29.95) An accompaniment
to the video series, which explains in simple language all aspects of winegrowing and winemaking...
how to serve and taste wine, wine and food pairing and more. Hardcover; 320 pages.
JANCIS ROBINSON'S GUIDE TO WINE GRAPES ($14.95) is a pocket-sized
encyclopedia of more than 800 grape names and hundreds of different grape varieties. A great
introduction to viticulture and winemaking and a virtual ampelography.
WINES OF THE RHONE VALLEY ($40) by Robert Parker. Tasting notes and ratings on
thousands of Rhone wines. At 446 pages it is an extensive reference work with little space devoted
to pictures and illustrations. It's an all meat and no potatoes kind of book by the noted authority.
COTE D'OR: A Celebration of the Great Wines of Burgundy ($55) Vintage
assessments both red and white from 1945. Complete profiles of the top 60 domaines. And a
complete reference guide on all the greater and lesser domaines from the Master of Wine and
respected author of such books as Grand Vins: The Finest Chateaux of Bordeaux.
WINE & DINE, CALIFORNIA FINE WINES MATCHED WITH GOURMET RECIPES
($15.95) by Ron Breitstein and Hendrik Van Leuven. This deluxe paperback features recipes
provided by famous California wineries intended to accompany specific examples of their wines.
Jordan, Ridge, Caymus, are just a few of the biggies featured.
A TRAVELER'S WINE GUIDE TO ITALY ($17.95) by Stephen Hobley. Another
new edition of the popular guide series, and they're all illustrated in full color complete with iteneraries,
maps addresses, directions, hours of operation, phone and fax numbers, plus local sights to see,
gastronomic specialties of each region and even festivals and special events and their dates.
APERITIF ($24.95) by Georgeanne Brennan. All about drinks that are served
before the meal, including Vermouth, Champagne and appropriate fortified wines like Sherry, Madeira
and Pinot des Charantes, as well as recipes for finger foods to accompany them. Beautifully illustrated.
A great gift book.
(Editor's Note: In the event that you have difficulty finding any of the books reviewed by Sullivan, please note that
virtually every wine title in print, and many which are not, are available from The Wine Trader. Feel free to call for information on hard-to-find titles.)
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Latest Update: December 10, 1997