The SOMM Journal

October/November 2014

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Page 12 of 120

{ editor's notebook } WE RECEIVED AN EMAIL FROM A WELL-MEANING FRIEND who suggested that our writers were "untrained" and their tasting notes were "all over the map," and she was kind enough to attach the 14-page Wine & Spirits Education Trust Systematic Approach to Tasting, a document full of charts and graphs that even I, who have been writing tasting notes for 40 years, found intimidating. If we were to demand that everyone who writes tasting notes for our magazines adhere to this rigorous discipline, not only would our pages be tedious and sterile but the message we would be giving would be completely opposite from how we see our purpose: to inform, but to do so in such a way as to communicate the visceral and organic nature of loving wine. We want to strip away the pretense and BS and tell you how we feel about a wine, how it gives us pleasure. Each of us has our own style and as an editor I cherish and honor those individual memes, no matter how idiosyncratic they may be. I also feel that breaking a wine into myriad pieces and aspects serves no conceivable purpose, especially for the consumer. Why perform an autopsy when you can have the living, breathing whole person? When we write tasting notes it is to tell you how we feel about the wine. Language is an inexact tool for expressing those feelings and emotions. We're not interested in picking out all the compo - nents that make up a wine. We think you want to know, in a few well-chosen and expressive words, what it's like, what total experi- ence you can expect. At least, that's how we see it. South America is doing for Malbec what Napa has done for Cabernet Sauvignon. But rein- vigorating that variety is just the beginning of an even bigger story. Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein captures this diverse region in a panoramic sweep in his authoritative book, Wines of South America: The Essential Guide (University of California Press, $40). The book begins with an introductory tour of the continent, highlighting the arrival of European wine culture, its grapes and the evolution of modern-day winemaking. Goldstein makes extended stops at the two wine titans of the land: Argentina and Chile. He also touches down in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela, providing a screenshot glimpse into each country's evolving industries and oenological activities. Tucked into the pages are current maps and relevant statistics to support each sub-region, as well as a sampling of the author's "Super South American Selections." Evan Goldstein's Wines of South America: The Essential Guide shines an enlightening spotlight – with economical style and considerable authority – on a heretofore under-reported but extremely important wine-producing region. Jumping continents, the stunning Wine Atlas of Germany by Dieter Braatz, Ulrich Sautter and Ingo Swoboda (University of California Press, $55) will delight avid Riesling drinkers with its comprehensive study of one the world's leading wine-producing countries. The book educates readers on the differ - ent characteristics of Germany's vineyards and its history of winegrowing. The authors then move through the country's grape varieties with painstaking atten- tion to detail, providing the origins, characteristics and exact number of hectares assigned to over 35 grapes. Each varietal summary is then crowned with an unambiguous tasting note for its respective wine. The majority of the book is devoted to 16 chief growing regions within Germany, all of which boast unique terroirs. The prominent regions are featured, including Mosel, Rheingau, Rheinhessen and Pfalz, but the book also pays heed to lesser known places, such as Ahr, Nahe and Saxony. Elaborate pic - tures and precise and eye-pleasing detailed maps differentiate among good, superior and excellent vineyards, and delineate borders within each region. The atlas rounds out nicely with vineyard and village indexes, as well as a complete list of the major producers in each of the 16 mentioned regions. While The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson is unofficially admired as the definitive atlas guide to learning wine, it only gives Germany 25 pages. Wine Atlas of Germany spans 400 pages and omits nothing. THE READING ROOM A Note on Notes 12 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2014 BARONESS PHILIPPINE DE ROTHSCHILD, 1933–2014 Philippine de Rothschild was a very special lady. She broke the mold of the stuffy Bordeaux proprietor by bringing just enough theater (a vestige of her former life at the Comédie Française) to her wine life. She loved to laugh and she loved being the center of attention; she was outgoing and always engaged. Many don't realize she also had a highly developed marketing sense, witness the dramatic artist labels for Mouton and her deft exploitation of Mouton Cadet and all the properties in between. Philippine was a driving force in Bordeaux and she was a wake-up call for the sleepy Bordelaise culture. Thank you, Baroness, for all you did for wine lovers the world over. PHOTO: KARL LAGERFELD

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