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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.  

hachettee.jpg (5138 bytes)Hachette Wine Guide 2001 (English translation)
2000 Hachette UK (Cassell) Hardcover, 1312 pages (ISBN 1842020676)
So the Hachette guide finally gets an English translation. Good news for all who have struggled through previous versions with their patchy 'O' level French (myself included). For those not familiar with this guide, let me try to explain how it works. Subtitled 'The French wine Bible' (it's printed on rather bible-like thin paper), in its 1300+ pages it describes some 9000 wines from across the regions of France. These are selected from a total of 28 000 entries by a panel of some 800 wine professionals. They don't all get together in one place, but the assessment occurs within each region, with small committees of three or so experts working their way through a few dozen wines in a day. They taste blind, and wines that make it into the guide are rated on a scale of four points (they are awarded zero to three stars), and are written up with a short descriptive paragraph. IN addition, producer contact details and opening hours/visiting arrangements are given (a very useful feature). There's also the added complication of the 'coup de coeurs': these are wines that were 'love at first sip' to the tasters, and their labels are reproduced in the book. Somewhat confusingly, many of the coup de coeur winners are two-star and not three-star wines. (Leafing through, I also found one wine -- 1997 Pavie-Macquin -- that has a coup de couer but no stars!) In addition to the descriptions of the wines, a large chunk of the book is given to assessing the 1999 vintage in each region, and there's other useful background information.

So is it worth buying? I find it a tremendously useful book and would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in French wines. However, like any guide of this nature, it has it flaws: the fact that wines have to be submitted means that some big names are missing; thus if a wine is absent, you don't know whether it didn't make the grade or simply wasn't submitted. In this respect, Hachette is probably at its strongest outside the classic areas of Bordeaux and Burgundy, where the coverage is denser. Another problem is the fact that you don't know who is responsible for the tasting notes: after all, tasting 'by committee' is a dubious process. At least the imprecision of the simple scoring system is to some extent an acknowledgement of this weakness. Overall, though, the sheer size of the scope of this guide makes this an extremely useful resource, and its utlity more than compensates for these weaknesses. I'd say buy it.

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parker.gif (9362 bytes)Parker's Wine Buyers Guide

Robert Parker

Hardcover (15 January, 2000)
Dorling Kindersley; ISBN: 0751388238

Review of the third edition, wineanorak.com
Robert Parker is a hugely influential wine writer famous for his 100 point scale for assessing wines. You can guarantee that if Parker gives a good score to a previously little-known wine it will sell out rapidly and prices will subsequently sky rocket. Some love him but others object to the way one individual's taste can have such a profound effect on the world of wine. None the less, the guide makes fascinating reading and the man is concerned with searching out good value wines as well as describing wines that few will ever get to taste. Whatever people think of his powerful influence on the wine world, he is undoubtedly a competent and hard-working individual who has earned his fame and fortune. One quibble I have with the guide is a purely personal one—he devotes very little space to Australian wines, and none to the wines of South Africa. Perhaps this will change with Australian wines beginning to break through into the US marketplace. Take his scores with a pinch of salt and accept that he can get it wrong occasionally, and Parker's guide deserves a place on your bookshelf.

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ocpwb.gif (5473 bytes)Oz Clarke's Pocket Wine Book 2001

Oz Clarke

Hardcover - 297 pages (14 September, 2000)
Little, Brown & Company; ISBN: 0316853992


One of the most useful portable all-round guides to wines, vintages, producers, grapes and wine regions, Oz Clarke's Pocket Wine Book has always been a fount of down-to-earth wisdom and good sense. The 2001 edition comes along and is no exception. Seasoned punters who have gone the course with Oz will know what to expect--trenchant views, clearly expressed; encyclopaedic knowledge lightly worn; and second-hand access to what is said to be one of the finest noses in Europe. For an expert of his standing, Oz Clarke can be very refreshing at times. (On fizz: "I sometimes think it doesn't matter what it tastes like as long as it's cold enough and there's enough of it".) Ease of use is among the great virtues of this little book: there's no point flicking back and forth among the cross references when you're standing in a crowded supermarket wine department. It's simple to find what you want among the 1,600 entries once the single page of How To Use rules has been absorbed. New sections added for 2001 include a fascinating and highly eclectic selection of personal favourites, and a series of Wines of the Year categories--in effect, Top Tips, such as "World Class Wines that Won't Cost the Earth", "Regions to Watch" and so on. Self-recommending, therefore, as always. --Robin Davidson

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ozssfine.gif (13834 bytes)Clarke and Spurrier's Fine Wine Guide

Oz Clarke, Stephen Spurrier

Hardcover - 352 pages (12 November, 1998)
Little, Brown & Company; ISBN: 0316647535

Decanter, December 1998
'...an excellent country by country, personal guide to some of the world's best [wines]. Better still, the producer entries give some of the most descriptive impressions of what you'll actually find in the glass.'

Book Description
The last few years have seen an explosion of interest in fine wine - matched, unfortunately, by an explosion in prices. What does this mean for the fine wine drinker? How do you get good value for money? Who do you look to for the best - not just the most fashionable - wines? Who are the up-and-coming superstars?

For no more than the price of just one decent bottle of red Bordeaux or a California Cabernet Sauvignon, Clarke & Spurrier's Fine Wine Guide takes you every step of the way. It's the best wine investment you can make.

Includes all the names to look out for - best growers and estates, key wine zones

Pinpoints existing superstar producers and those wines and producers with star potential

Includes personal recommendations from Clarke and Spurrier for each major wine style

Offers up-to-date profiles of producers, wines and regions

Contains detailed vintage and maturity information including at-a-glance charts and year-by-year assessments

Organized by country and wine region, this guide aims to cover only the world's best wines - though not necessarily the best-known. A straightforward format of at-a-glance lists of the best wines, best vineyards, best producers and other essential information is followed by more detailed A-Z lists of the top wine names and top producers within each region or country. The information is cross-referred within each section, so that a wine recommendation can be located by way of the wine name, the cru, the grower or the year. There is also a comprehensive index of thousands of recommended wines and producers.

Organized by country and wine region, this guide aims to cover only the world's best wines - though not necessarily the best-known. A straightforward format of at-a-glance lists of the best wines, best vineyards, best producers and other essential information is followed by more detailed A-Z lists of the top wine names and top producers within each region or country. The information is cross-referred within each section, so that a wine recommendation can be located by way of the wine name, the cru, the grower or the year. There is also a comprehensive index of thousands of recommended wines and producers.

From the Author
(Oz Clarke) I guess many people know me for my advocacy of the vibrant flavours typically associated with New World wines, but, believe me, what I love is not a particular place of origin but wines made with passion, wines that inspired the winemaker as much as they inspire me. And so I love wines from all over the world - the so-called classic styles and the young pretenders, too - they're all fine wines to me. Because fine wine is about passion. A top grape variety is of no use at all if it is grown and vinified in a listless or cynical manner. A great vineyard site is of no value unless it is cared for and nurtured by men and women passionate in their desire to help it express its greatness. And millions spent in modernising vineyards and wineries are millions wasted if the equipment is not controlled by producers with a passionate vision of the flavours they long to create from their grapes. Give me that passion and I'll give you fine wine.

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jhalwicom.gif (3303 bytes)Australia and New Zealand Wine Companion: 2000

James Halliday

Paperback - 538 pages ( 3 January, 2000)
Grub Street; ISBN: 1902304381

The customary remarks with which to preface discussions of Antipodean wines include those exclaiming at how few years it has taken for this youthful industry to find itself competing at the very highest level with the greatest wines in the world. Consider them said. James Halliday, in the 2000 edition of his reliable and authoritative Wine Companion, Australia and New Zealand also takes the maturity and perfection of the best Oz / NZ wines for granted. His grading system for wineries runs to five stars ("Outstanding winery regularly producing exemplary wines"), while for individual vintages he goes even further: five wine glasses signify 94-97 out of 100--"As close to perfection as the real world will allow". (98-100 is an unachievable ideal.)

Restricting himself to the top 20% of Australian and New Zealand wines, James Halliday can afford to be generous. Sensibly listing wineries alphabetically by name only, rather than, say, by region, which can be confusing, he profiles each establishment briefly and succinctly, listing and rating the vintages, as well as giving useful information such as contacts and opening hours. (These lists are useful to those on the spot at least: it's interesting how many of even the major wineries depend to a large extent on cellar door and direct mail sales.) Food partnerships are suggested, not as fixed rules but as additional, "subliminal" indications of wine styles. He can be quirky, too. Even where he disapproves of the wines, something can be rescued. A case in point would be the unfortunate Jackson's Hill winery, where the wines are judged "not exhilarating" but "Jackson's Hill does produce the most marvellous home-made chocolates I have tasted in a long time". --Robin Davidson

This guide to Australian and New Zealand wines profiles over 1200 wineries. It provides tasting notes for the 1200 wines featured, a vintage specific rating, information on the wine's production, advice on the best time to drink it and suggestions for complementary food choices.

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hjpwg.gif (7205 bytes)Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2001

Hugh Johnson

Hardcover - 280 pages (14 September, 2000)
Mitchell Beazley; ISBN: 1840003219

Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book is the world's best-selling wine book and gives up-to-the-minute information on growers, regions and over 6,000 wines. Pocket Wine lists the world's top wines, pointing out those offering the best value from every country, and reveals the wines to drink in 2001. It includes expert tasting notes and advice on matching wine with specific dishes and ingredients. Winemaking and grape varieties are explained and vintage reports are provided. - Completely revised and updated for 2001 - The world's favourite wine guide - More than 400,000 copies sold annually - Lists over 6,000 wines - Personally recommended producers and estates

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oxbuyg.gif (9197 bytes)Oz Clarke's Wine Buying Guide 2001

Oz Clarke

Paperback - 509 pages (14 September, 2000)
Little, Brown & Company; ISBN: 0316853968


In its way, Oz Clarke's Wine Buying Guide, now entering its 17th edition, is a great monument to the astonishing transformation that has overtaken all aspects of wine in the last decade or so. We're fortunate to be buying and drinking wine at a time when the word can encompass not only the immense grandeurs, and staggering prices, of a Chateau Pétrus or a Romanée-Conti (£3,285.89 and £2,937.50 a bottle for the respective 1961 and 1978 vintages), but the supple, attractive new-style wines that are being made so much now, and are so widely available through supermarkets and retail chains. This huge range is exactly what this book is all about and is what makes it an essential handbook for any buyer of wine, at whatever level this takes place. Covering the main wine-producing countries and regions, it lists the principal producers and/or appellations as appropriate, then proceeds to its main business of listing prices. Oz Clarke is a great populariser, completely free of prejudice and cant, passionate (and serious, which is not the same thing at all) about his subject--qualities which are reflected in his Guide. Alongside the useful but potentially rather dry price lists, his commentaries are chock-full of advice, on-the-nail discriminations and irresistible enthusiasm. "That disturbing smell of engine oil and mouthwash, do I want it in my mouth? Hell, yes." --Robin Davidson

Book Description
Best wines, best prices, best shops... Oz Clarke's Wine Buying Guide is the only comprehensive source of UK wine prices and is quite simply indispensable. Eagerly awaited by the consumer, this influential wine-buyer's handbook is also considered to be the bible of the wine trade. Established in 1984 and now in its 17th edition, Oz Clarke's Wine Buying Guide is the most authoritative, accessible and up-to-date wine-buying source available. Thousands of wines are listed by name, producer, vintage and price.

From the Author
We're fortunate in Britain. We may not think we have much luck with growing wine, but when it comes to buying it we have a better chance of a good bottle than any Frenchman, Spaniard, Italian or German who has vines growing on his very doorstep. And my Wine Buying Guide's objective is to help everybody make the best of this good fortune.

We call ourselves a Wine Buying Guide, and we intend to interpret 'guide' in as open and friendly a way as possible. We're not scouring the country trying to pinpoint every town's fleeting and profit-strangling 'best-buy'; we're not interested in one-off 'special offers' which are sold out a week after we go to press. No, what we want is to give everyone the confidence to know what a given wine should cost; to say that just because it's cheaper doesn't mean that it's necessarily a better bargain, and to point out the areas which seem to us to be particularly good or bad value. With the tremendous range of wines available we have no need to buy bad wine. Every shop will have better wine at the same price - or less - if we know what to ask for. It's our job to make that choice easier - to make sure we all know where to find good wine, and what we should pay. That's why Oz Clarke's Wine Buying Guide is here

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which.gif (6871 bytes)The "Which?" Wine Guide 2001

Susy Atkins, Simon Woods

Hardcover - 496 pages (5 October, 2000)
Which? Books; ISBN: 0852028377

Reviewing over 200 wine merchants in the UK from supermarkets and high street chains to independent merchants, this guide also includes details of national and regional awards for excellence. There is also a section on wine producers, their techniques, different vintages and grape varieties.

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