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The World of Fine Wine

Thereís a new wine magazine. Itís bimonthly, published by the Quarto group, and itís £13 an issue. With the rather straight-down-the-middle title and content that focuses on the elite of the wine world (with a smattering of arts and lifestyle material, too), this magazine is clearly pitched at the very well heeled.

The publishers have gathered together a star-studded cast of wine experts, with journalists, wine makers and trade figures among the contributors. Editor is Harpers' staff writer Neil Beckett, assisted by a heavyweight editorial board. Whatís it like? Itís sort of like an up-market Decanter, with longer, more in-depth features, more credible tastings and less advertising. Itís certainly very Ďestablishmentí in its approach. The design and layout is quite American-style and very conservative. The writing is of a good standard, but is a bit highbrow (deliberately, I suspect) and leaden in places. I particularly enjoyed Andrew Jeffordís lengthy but absorbing exploration of terroir in Bordeaux, Michel Bettaneís provocative but well argued column, and Neil Beckettís brave, solid feature stating Sherryís case for admission to the fine wine club. The round-up of Bordeaux 2003 here is the best Iíve seen so far, with informative tasting notes and what look like reliable scores.

Should you subscribe to it? Well, if you are shelling out regularly for fine wine en primeur, the price (itís undeniably expensive for a magazine) shouldnít deter you. What the magazine lacks in imagination and creativity, it makes up for with a sensible, thorough commentary on the world of fine wine by people who know what they are talking about. Assuming that the standard set by the first issue is maintained, this could be a useful contribution to the wine literature. Itís greatest strength is that it is giving writers the space they need to explore important issues in depth, and this is almost unheard of in wine magazine publishing. Iím looking forward to issue 2. 

website: www.finewinemag.com

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