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Book review: Hugh Johnson’s Wine Companion – The encyclopedia of wines, vineyards, & winemakers

>> Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hugh Johnson’s Wine Companion – The encyclopedia of wines, vineyards, & winemakers
By: Hugh Johnson, revised and updated by Stephen Brook
Mitchell Beazley book is now in its sixth edition. It is a tome that impresses by its scope and ambition. It does contain some introductory chapters on history, winemaking and wine styles in general, but the book is really a catalogue of wineries. Virtually every wine region in the whole world is covered. Each region gets a short introduction, which is then followed by producer profile after producer profile. This is what the book is about – mostly quite short descriptions on producer after producer, the authors’ personal selection of the best producers in each region. Some get a bit more space; Petrus e.g. gets almost half a page, but most are dealt with in a few sentences. It is a book that impresses by its ambition, quality of the insight and the amount of work that must have gone into it. At the same time, one cannot help thinking that it is perhaps past it prime. The first edition arrived in 1983. There was nothing at the time called “internet”. Today, if one looks for short, bite-sized information wineries, would one not rather make a search on the net? (We must also mention that BKWine Photography is proud to have provided several of the images in the new edition!)

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