The New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Reference Guide toThe Wines of The World

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Authoritative, international and up-to-date, The New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia is arranged geographically and combines maps and photographs with information on all wine-growing areas, profiles of distinguished producers and assessments of individual wines. The book's easy-reference style, and wealth of practical advice, make it an unrivaled source of information for all lovers of wine — from the occasional drinker to the connoisseur.

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Overview

Authoritative, international and up-to-date, The New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia is arranged geographically and combines maps and photographs with information on all wine-growing areas, profiles of distinguished producers and assessments of individual wines. The book's easy-reference style, and wealth of practical advice, make it an unrivaled source of information for all lovers of wine — from the occasional drinker to the connoisseur.

Wines of the World. Distinguished wine authority Tom Stevenson examines the viticultural history of each wine-making country, discussing its wine-producing regions and the current reputation of its wines. He analyzes the factors affecting the taste and quality of each region's wines — location, aspect, soil, microclimates, grape varieties, and methods of viticulture and vinification — before assessing its appellations, the individual wine producers (chateaux or wineries), and, of course, the wines themselves.

Enjoying Wine. Tom Stevenson provides practical guidelines on wine tasting, while an "author's choice" chart at the end of each section lists the very best wines. A star-rating system identifies the finest producers and highlights those offering the best value. A "taste chart" explains how to identify the flavors in a wine, and a "troubleshooter's guide" spots common wine flaws.

Whether you are a newcomer wanting to explore the pleasures of wine or a wine enthusiast looking for inspiration, The New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia is the book to consult again and again.

Author Biography: Tom Stevenson has been writing about wine for 25 years and is the author of 20 books and the winner of 26 literary awards including, on three occasions, Wine Writer of the Year. In April 1999 he received the coveted Wine Literary Award, America's lifetime achievement award for wine writing. Only nine other authors have received this award prior to Tom Stevenson. The first edition of his Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia, published in 1988, won a record five awards, and The New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia, published in 1997 by Dorling Kindersley, won the Prix du Champagne Lanson Gold Label Award. These editions have sold more than 400,000 copies in 12 languages.

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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
Anyone with more than a passing interest in wine will easily become absorbed in this encyclopedia. Even if you're not interested in, say, South African wines or canopy management, the fact is that Tom Stevenson knows so much and writes so well that you'll be intrigued anyhow.

Weighing in at 5-plus pounds and 600 pages long, The New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia covers the wine world beautifully, proceeding region by region throughout the world. Its approach is extremely thorough. The section on France (pp. 58-129), for example, starts with a brief history of French wine laws, advice on reading a French wine label, and an overview of the country's viticultural regions. For a region like Bordeaux, Stevenson offers an essay on the region's trade, a detailed full-color map, the classifications of Bordeaux wines (premiers crus, etc.) and then on to the different producers within each appellation of Bordeaux (Medoc, Blaye, Saint Estèphethe, etc.). The section concludes with an Author's Choice of the best Bordeaux wines.

In all, the encyclopedia covers more than 4,000 appellations and wine styles, with profiles of almost 2,000 individual producers and practical guidance on wine tasting, buying, and storing. There's more information than I've ever seen about American winemaking in states other than California, Oregon, Washington, and New York, and more about Canada, too.

For all of its weight and scope, the encyclopedia is surprisingly full of tone and opinion. Here's what Stevenson says about France: "France makes the best and the worst wines in the world. No other country can rival France for the quality and diversity of its wine but its success is dependent on the sheer size of its production which has always been a double-edged sword." And Spain: "Spain continues to overperform, providing more wines of real interest and quality than the most optimistic critic could reasonably hope for." Or on the evolution of Valpolicella: "In the first edition I agreed with Robert Parker, the American wine writer, when he described most Valpolicella as 'insipid industrial garbage,' but technology has changed things over the last ten years. While most are still insipid and industrial, relatively few are garbage." Evaluations like these will keep the reader turning to this giant book again and again. (Ginger Curwen)

Robert Parker
Tom Stevenson has struck gold again.
Clive Coates
A tour de force, a triumphant success for which I have the highest praise.
Library Journal
DK's offerings are nearly unrivaled for clarity, design, authority, and superb organization, and this newest title maintains the same high standard, making it easy to find information. This updated edition of Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia (1988) has been expanded from 480 to 600 pages. The introduction covers "factors affecting taste and quality," with excellent discussions on assessing and tasting wine, vine training, and soil ("rock-speak"); the glossary on grape varieties is a condensed dead ringer for Jancis Robinson's Vine, Grapes, and Wines (1986. o.p.). The body of the work is divided by country, region, or continent, then further by appellations or areas. Lavish maps, illustrations, and photographs impart sensuality to these minilessons, and each important geographical chunk ends with a list of recommended wines, called "author's choice." Stevenson is an internationally respected expert (thrice "Wine Writer of the Year") who brooks little departure from tradition. For example, when rating wines (his system ranges from 1 to 3 stars), he rarely assigns a three to outstanding wines outside of France. Among his recommendations are many available and affordable choices, yet in uncompromising fashion, he suggests that the budget alternative to champagne with caviar should be mineral water. An essential purchase for wine collections.Wendy Miller, Lexington P.L., Ky.

AUTHOR'S REPLY TO EXCELLENT LIBRARY REVIEW

I greatly appreciate the excellent and studious review by Wendy Miller in the Library Journal, but would like to add a mischievous comment to clarify her claim that 'the glossary on grape varieties is a condensed dead ringer for Janice Robinson's Vine, Grapes, and Wines (1986. Out of Print)'. Yes, it may be viewed as that. Equally, Jancis' book could be seen as an expansion of my six-page ABC of Grape Varieties, which was published by Decanter magazine over two issues in 1980 and 1981.

Booknews
Well-illustrated in color, with maps of each region, this encyclopedia contains a wealth of information on wine. An introductory section includes descriptions of how wine is made, factors affecting taste and quality, a discourse on oak, and how wine should be stored and drunk. The remainder of the volume contains detailed entries by region, with the lion's share devoted to France, though the wine of all other countries are competently discussed. History, climate, soil, vintages, special factors affecting taste and quality are discussed, followed by a listing of each appellation with a rating and list of its wines. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789420794
  • Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/1997
  • Edition description: 1 AMER ED
  • Pages: 600
  • Product dimensions: 11.02 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 1.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Stevenson has been writing about wine for 25 years and is the author of 20 books and the winner of 26 literary awards including, on three occasions, Wine Writer of the Year. In April 1999 he received the coveted Wine Literary Award, America's lifetime achievement award for wine writing. Only nine other authors have received this award prior to Tom Stevenson. The first edition of his Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia, published in 1988, won a record five awards, and The New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia, published in 1997 by Dorling Kindersley, won the Prix du Champagne Lanson Gold Label Award. These editions have sold more than 400,000 copies in 12 languages.

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Read an Excerpt

THE TASTE OF WINE

The difference between tasting and drinking is similar to test-driving a car you may buy and the relish of driving it afterwards. One is a matter of concentration, as you seek out distinguishing merits and faults, while the other is a far more relaxed and enjoyable experience. Tasting is a matter of concentration, and almost anyone can acquire the technique.

When tasting a wine it is important to eliminate all distractions, especially comments made by others; it is all too easy to be swayed. The wine should be tasted and an opinion registered before any ensuing discussions. Even at professionally led tastings, the expert's job is not to dictate but to educate, to lead from behind, putting into perspective other people's natural responses to smells or tastes through clear and concise explanation. The three "basics" of wine-tasting are sight, smell, and taste, known as "eye", "nose", and "palate".

THE SIGHT OR "EYE" OF A WINE

The first step is to assess the wine's limpidity, which should be perfectly clear. Many wines throw a deposit, but this is harmless if it settles to yield a bright and clear wine. If it is cloudy or hazy, the wine should be discarded. Tiny bubbles that appear on the bowl or cling persistently to the edge of the glass are perfectly acceptable in a few wines, such as Muscadet sur lie and Vinho Verde, but probably indicate a flaw in most other still wines, particularly if red and from classic Old World regions. The next step is to swirl the wine gently around the glass. So-called "legs" or "tears", thin sinewy threads of wine that run down the side of the glass, may appear. Contrary to popular belief, they are not indicative of high glycerol content, but are simply the effect of alcohol on wine's viscosity, or the way the wine flows. The greater the alcohol content the less free-flowing, or more viscous, the wine actually becomes.

The colour of wine

Natural light is best for observing a wine's colour, the first clue to its identity once its condition has been assessed. Look at the wine against a white background, holding the glass at the bottom of the stem and tilting it away from you slightly. Red wines vary in colour from clairet, which is almost rose, to tones so dark and opaque that they seem black. White wines range from a colourless water-white to deep gold, although the majority are a light straw-yellow colour. For some reason there are very few rose wines that are truly pink in colour, the tonal range extending from blue-pink, through purple-pink to orange-pink. Disregard any impression about a wine's colour under artificial lighting because it will never be true - fluorescent light, for example, makes a red wine appear brown.

Factors affecting color

The color and tonal variation of any wine, whether red, white, or rose, is determined by the grape variety. It is also influenced by the ripeness of the actual grapes, the area of production, the method of vinification and the age of the wine. Dry, light-bodied wines from cooler climates are the lightest in colour, while fuller- bodied or sweeter-styled wines from hotter regions are the deepest. Youthful red wines usually have a purple tone, whereas young white wines may hint of green, particularly if they are from a cooler climate. The ageing process involves a slow oxidation that has a browning effect similar to the discolouration of a peeled apple that has been exposed to the air.

THE SMELL OR "NOSE" OF A WINE

Whenever an experienced taster claims to be able to recognize in excess of 1,000 different smells, many wine-lovers give up all hope of acquiring even the most basic tasting skills. Yet they should not be discouraged. Almost everybody can detect and distinguish over 1,000 different smells, the majority of which are ordinary everyday odours. Ask anyone to write down all the smells they can recognize and most will be able to list several hundred without really trying. Yet a far greater number of smells are locked away in our brains waiting to be triggered.

The wine-smelling procedure is quite simple: give the glass a good swirl, put your nose into the glass, and take a deep sniff. While it is essential to take a substantial sniff, it is not practicable to sniff the same wine again for at least two minutes. This is because each wine activates a unique pattern of nerve ends in the olfactory bulb; these nerve ends are like small candles that are snuffed out when activated and take a little time to reactivate. As a result, subsequent sniffs of the same smell can reveal less and less, yet it is perfectly feasible to smell different smells, therefore different wines, one after the other.

THE TASTE OR "PALATE" OF A WINE

As soon as one sniffs a wine the natural reaction is to taste it, but do this only after all questions concerning the nose have been addressed. The procedure is simple, although it may look and sound rather strange to the uninitiated. Take a good mouthful and draw air into the mouth through the wine; this makes a gurgling sound, but it is essential to do it in order to magnify the wine's volatile characteristics in the back of the throat. The tongue itself reveals very little; sweetness is detected on its tip, sourness or acidity on the sides, bitterness at the back and top, and saltiness on the front and sides. Apart from these four basic taste perceptions, we smell tastes rather than taste them. Any food or drink emits odorous vapours in the mouth that are automatically conveyed to the roof of the nasal passages. Here the olfactory bulb examines, discerns, and catalogues them - as they originate from the palate the natural inclination is to perceive them as tastes. For many of us it is difficult to believe that we taste with an organ located behind the eyes at the top of the nose, but when we eat ice-cream too quickly, we painfully experience precisely where the olfactory bulb is, as the chilly ice-cream aromas literally freeze this acutely delicate sensory organ. The texture of a wine also influences its taste; the prickly tactile sensation of CO2, for example, heightens our perception of acidity while increased viscosity softens it.

QUALITY AND TASTE: WHY OPINIONS DIFFER

Whether you are a novice or a Master of Wine, it is always personal preference that is the final arbiter when you are judging wine. The most experienced tasters can often argue endlessly over the relative merits and demerits of certain wines. We all know that quality exists, and more often than not agree which wines have it, and yet we are not able to define it. Lacking a solid definition, most experienced tasters would happily accept that a fine wine must have natural balance and finesse and show a definite, distinctive' and individual character within its own type or style. If we occasionally differ on the question of the quality of wine, should we disagree on what it tastes like? We may love or hate a wine, but surely the taste we perceive is the same? Conveying specific taste characteristics from the mind of one person to that of another is difficult enough, whether one is writing a book or simply discussing a wine at a tasting. Much of this difficulty lies in the words we choose, but the problem is not confined to semantics. In a world of perfect communication, conveying impressions of taste would still be an inexact art because of the different threshold levels at which we pick up elementary tastes and smells, and because of the various tolerance levels at which we enjoy them. If individuals require different quantities of acidity, tannin, alcohol, sugar, esters, and aldehydes in a wine before actually detecting them, then the same wine has, literally, a different taste for each of us. In the unlikely event of people having the same threshold for every constituent and combination of constituents, disagreement would probably ensue because we also have different tolerance levels; therefore, some of us would enjoy what others dislike because we actually like the tastes and smells they dislike. Thresholds and tolerance levels vary enormously; the threshold for detecting sweetness, for example, varies by a factor of five, which explains the "sweet tooth" phenomenon, and there are an infinite number of tolerance levels. Apply this to every basic aroma and flavour and it is surprising that we agree on the description of any wine.

© 2001 by Tom Stevenson

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Table of Contents

Sotheby's Introduction

AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION
Using this Book
The Taste of Wine
How to Assess a Wine
Factors affecting Taste and Quality
Guide to Vineyard Soils
Annual Life-Cycle of the Vine
How Wine is Made
The Choice of Oak
Glossary of Grape Varieties
Grape Variety of Synonyms
THE WINES OF FRANCE
Introduction
Bordeaux
The Medoc
St. -Estephe
Pauillac
St. -Julien
Margaux
Graves, Cerons, Sauternes, and Barsac
The Libournais District
St. -Emilion
Pomerol
Bourg and Blaye
Entre-Deux-Mers
Author's Choice

Burgundy
The Chablis District
Cote de Nuits and Hautes-Cotes de Nuits
Cote de Beaune and Hautes-Cotes de Beaune
Cote Chalonnaise
The Maconnais
The Beaujolais
Author's Choice
Champagne
Author's Choice
Alsace
Author's Choice
The Loire Valley
Pays Nantais
Anjou-Saumur
Touraine
Central Vineyards
Author's Choice
The Rhone Valley
The Northern Rhone
The Southern Rhone
Author's Choice
The Jura and Savoie
Southwest France
Author's Choice
Languedoc-Roussillon
Author's Choice
Provence and Corsica
Vin de Pays
Author's Choice
THE WINES OF GERMANY

Introduction
The Ahr
The Mittelrhein
Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
The Nahe
The Rheingau
Rheinhessen
Rheinpfalz
The Hessische Bergstrasse
Franken
Wurttemberg
Baden
Saale-Unstrut and Sachsen
Author's Choice
THE WINES OF ITALY
Introduction
Northwest Italy
Northeast Italy
West-Central Italy
East-Central Italy
Southern Italy and the Islands
Author's Choice
THE WINES OF SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
Spain Introduction
Rioja and Navarra
Cava and Penedes
Sherry Country
Portugal Introduction
Douro Valley
Madeira
Author's Choice
THE WINES OF THE REST OF EUROPE AND THE LEVANT
Great Britain
Switzerland
Austria
Southeast Europe
The Levant
Other winemaking countries of Europe
Author's Choice
THE WINES OF NORTH AND SOUTH AFRICA
North Africa
South Africa
Author's Choice
THE WINES of NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA
North America Introduction
California
Mendocino County
Sonoma County
Napa County
The North-Central Coast
The South-Central Coast
The Central Valley
Other Wine Appellations of California
The Pacific Northwest
The Atlantic Northeast
Other Winemaking Areas of the US
Canada
Mexico
South America Introduction
Chile and Argentina
Author's Choice
THE WINES OF AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, AND ASIA
Australia
New South Wales
Victoria and Tasmania
South Australia
Western Australia
Queensland and Northern Territory
New Zealand
Author's Choice
Asia
Serving Wine
Wine and Food
Taste Chart
Troubleshooter's Guide
Guide to Good Vintages
Glossary
Index
Acknowledgments


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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2007

    A reviewer

    I am a professional qualified Sommelier and official translator for the Italian Sommelier Association. I have had the pleasure of receiving this book as a gift and curiously read through it after having heard the hype it carries with it. In my humble opinion, as stated in the title, it is vastly overrated. First of all it beats the typical, cliché and expectable paths of stereotypes and basic common knowledge about world wines. France, for example, which nonetheless has a great wine identity, is described over a triple amount of pages than Italy, which is currently the most important wine producer in the world 'export and national production', possessing at least 5 times, if not more, different native grape varietals and appellations, as well as wine regions, than France. If, as it is called, this book was to indeed play the role of an encyclopedia, it shoulkd report full facts and details, not based on personal taste, opinions or common commercial beliefs created by marketing. The book is well illustrated and layed out and is definitely a great starting point for the uninitiated wine enthusiasts, but contains far too much personal opinion and is very judemental at times. It spends more time on explaining how Italy's wine-making legislation contains flaws, instead of accounting for and reporting its extremely and first rank spectrum of native, unique, grape varieties and terroirs, as well as ancient tradition and history. Something I am sure an objective curious reader would be more interested in reading. Also, regarding the Austrian grape Blaufrankisch, it states 'Some believe this Austrian variety to be the Gamay, and judging from the light and poor quality wine, they could be close to the truth.' I find these comments to be inapropriate for a professional text and also far from the truth. Austria produces some outstanding wines, mostly made from 100% or blended Blaufrankisch, far from being light or poor. This is merely one single example, but the book is full of judgemental 'personal taste' comments, which should not be present in a book who's objective should be that of infomring and reporting facts and figures, details and reality. Also, the quality-price relationship is never taken into consideration...something which I find to be fundamental in my judgement of a wine region / country. A lot could be discussed, but in mere conclusion, I can say that the book is well printed and planned, but is far from being the objective and truthful account of reality it presumptuously sets out to be.

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