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Tom Stevenson

Please note I haven't listed any prices here. This is because the links will take you to the relevant entry in the amazon.co.uk catalogue, which will give the up-to-date price (usually substantially discounted): this may change at short notice.  

New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia

Tom Stevenson

Hardcover - 600 pages 4th revised edition (4 October, 2001)
Dorling Kindersley; ISBN: 0751327778

Review (www.wineanorak.com)
If you want evidence of how much the world of wine has changed over the last decade, then compare this long-awaited update of Tom Stevenson's Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia with the second edition, published 10 years ago in 1991. 480 pages have become 600, and the text has been largely rewritten. Such is the pace of change in the world of wine that the third edition (1997) now seems antediluvian, and no doubt in three or four years' time, this new version will be just as badly in need of an update—so it looks like Tom will be gainfully employed for many years yet. Overall, this Encyclopedia is a remarkable achievement. Fully illustrated with plenty of maps and photographs, there's a wealth of information here that successfully bridges the gap between the needs of the hardened geek and the enquiring beginner. The first 50 pages provide fairly standard reference material on subjects such as how wine is made, tasting techniques and grape varieties. The rest of the book takes us on a tour of the wine regions of the world. The prime focus is on appellations: after a general introduction, each region and subregion is described in detail, with a selection of the leading producers highlighted. Producer profiles are included for some of the key regions; to me, this is one of the most useful features, and I wish there could have been more. Each section includes a selection of the author's favourite wines from that region, adding a personal voice that doesn't interfere with attempted objectivity elsewhere. Throughout, Stevenson writes entertainingly and clearly; he's not afraid of expressing strong opinions where necessary, but when he does, they always seem to be defensible. Take, for instance, his views on how German wines can improve their tarnished image, and his suggested way forward for the English wine industry. I've spent the last few days browsing effortlessly through this book, and although I've only really scratched the surface, it has already become an indispensable reference source. Criticisms? I imagine a lot of interesting material never made it into the final 600 pages, and my only regret is that we don't have access to this. I'd be particularly keen on more producer profiles. As an aside, the almost-simultaneous publication of the latest edition of Hugh Johnson's Wine Atlas (now under Jancis Robinson's wing) should set up an interesting head-to-head. Many wine geeks will probably end up buying both. On this evidence, the Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia will be hard to beat. 

Go to the amazon.co.uk catalogue entry for this book

tschamp.gif (12574 bytes)World Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine

Tom Stevenson

Hardcover - 336 pages (22 October, 1998)
Absolute Press; ISBN: 1899791981

You have to have a real fizz fetish to buy this for yourself, but it's a great present for someone who has more than just a passing interest in posh sparkling wine and who owns a large, glamorous coffee table.

That's not to say that all the wines featured are posh, but it would be too sadistic to put a review of Laurent-Perrier's Cuvée Grand Siècle 1952 (or the more readily available 1990) in front of a Champagne fan who couldn't afford to buy a bottle. Tom Stevenson has very forceful opinions and great technical tasting abilities. His beautifully put together reference book has been exhaustively researched and his knowledge of people, places and wines that feature here is second-to- none. If there's a criticism, it would be that the book lacks heart.

The author has had more expertise in sparkling wines than any other style--his specialist subject would deny Magnus Magnuson of any "passes". His book, Champagne, was a milestone on the topic and won him just one of his current holding of 22 literary awards. The book has been produced in association with Christies, for whom he gives an annual Champagne Master Class. Buy the book and a few bottles of the most highly recommended sparklers; invite a few friends 'round; forget the Master Class.

An encyclopedia covering the sparkling wines of the world.

The author, Tom Stevenson , 13 January, 1999
I loved Amazon's inhouse review, despite the comment about the book lacking heart (obviously I don't agree, but it would be churlish to complain after all the other praise and, what the heck, I believe in freedom of speech anyway!). When compiling an encyclopedia, an author is obliged to go into detail about every aspect of the subject. Furthermore, an encyclopedia about Champagne and sparkling wine must include all the producers, not just the best. If you're looking for the most comprehensive reference on the subject, look no further, but if you want a buyer's guide, the The Millennium Champagne & Sparkling Wine Guide is the book for you. Hopefully there will be a lot of people out there who have a need for both. While I'm at it, I might as well say that this is the book that proves "the English invented Champagne". It's not a new story. I mentioned it in CHAMPAGNE (Sotheby's Publications) 12 years ago, but it is the first time that the document proving the point has been published, which is why this became the first wine book to warrant a leader in the Guardian. While this upset Le Figaro, which accused me of trying to burn Dom Pérignon (not the most level-headed, rational argument to try and shoot me down with), the French were the first to award my book a prize - Best Wine Book of 1998 at the Salon International du Livre Gourmand in Périgueux - which I thought was very magnanimous of them.

Buy this book from amazon.co.uk