With the publication of his classic volumes, Bordeaux and The Wire's of the Rhône Valley and Provence, together with the several editions of his Wine Buyer's Guide, Robert M. Parker, Jr., has emerged as America's most influential and articulate authority on wine. Whether he writes of the fabled French châteaux or of lesser-known growers and producers from around the world, his books have proved invaluable reading for connoisseurs and neophytes alike, for they contain not only hard-headed, frank analysis but an undisguised and positively contagious enthusiasm for his subject.
In his new book, his most ambitious and comprehensive to date, Parker offers an extraordinary guide to the growers, appellations, and wines of Burgundy, the viticultural region in eastern France that produces the most exotic, sought-after, expensive, and frequently least understood wines in the world.
In the introduction, Parker provides an overview of his subject: Where is Burgundy? What sort of climate prevails there and how is it likely to affect the growing season? What varieties of grapes are grown and how are the wines actually made? How are the wines of Burgundy different from those of Bordeaux? Why are they so expensive and frequently so hard to find? He also gives readers a short but incisive history of the Burgundy region, one that explains to a large degree why land holdings there are so fragmented and how, as a result, it is essential for the consumer to know not only where a wine originates (both the appellation and the actual vineyard itself), but who it is that actually makes it.
The heart and soul of Burgundy is divided into threeseparate but interdependent sections. In the first, Parker offers an alphabetical listing of some 640 growers and/or producers of wine. In each entry he catalogs the specific wines produced, discusses their overall quality and style, delineates the vineyard holdings, describes the wine-making techniques employed, and assesses the producer using a one-to-five-star system, with five signifying the very best.
In the second section, Parker provides a detailed analysis of the entire Burgundy region, beginning in the northernmost district, Chablis, and descending southward through the famed Côte d'Or (comprised of the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune), and on to the Côte Chalonnaise, the Mâconnais, and finally, Beaujolais. Covering some thirty-five appellations in all, he offers all the necessary information for the consumer: What is the hierarchy of wines in a given district? What are the Grands Crus and Premiers Crus, for example, in the legendary appellation of Vosne-Romanée? How many acres are under cultivation and with which grape varieties? What are the bench-mark characteristics of a particular wine? Where are the values? What is the aging potential? For the traveling wine enthusiast, he even passes along great tips on restaurants, hotels, and local color, as well as on those vineyards and producers most worth a visit.
In the third and final section, Parker sets down vintage summaries for burgundy wines during the years 19451989, noting the effects of the weather on crop size and quality, and describing the basic characteristics of each year's red and white wines. For the years 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988, he provides tasting notes and scores based on his 100-point system for dozens of wines from each vintage.
Like its predecessors, Bordeaux and The Wines of the RhOne Valley and Provence, Parker's Burgundy has all the makings of a classic. It is a beautifully produced book, and it boasts more than thirty specially made color maps, with those depicting the individual appellations drawn in such exquisite detail that each and every vineyard is visible. Burgundy is a fitting monument to the region that is capable of producing, in Parker's words, "the world's most majestic, glorious, and hedonistic red and white wine."