Then there are wine books that are slowly savored, in sound bites. Remember the days of getting ready for a book report? Yeah, that’s what it is. Part of blogging time requires reading and reporting on wine books. Book page is my resource for you. Each holiday season, since I can’t even remember when it began, I decided to share my findings, so others would have an idea of some great wine reading. Most were text books, then along came the novels.
If you love wine, love to read, and love to occasionally embark on a modern day non-fiction reality of wine; or, if you choose to embark on a fantasy wine journey (still) based on actual wine facts, wine novels also really deliver. There was an unusual amount of great novels released in 2019, and I had the joy of reading them, as advance copies. The following list delighted me, as I went along my 2019 wine book journey.
- Beaujolais, Georges Duboeuf
- Sipping Away, David Klein
- Tasting the Past, Kevin Begos
- The Wines of Long Island, José Moreno-Lacalle
- Wines of the French Alps, Wink Lorch
This is a wine books that I slowly savored, in sound bites.
Remember the days of getting ready for a book report? Yeah, that’s what it is. Part of blogging time requires reading and reporting on wine books. Book page is the resource.
Being asked, to go to Beaujolais on a media tour, this was just the beginning of a very intense, five-day sojourn into the world of Beaujolais. It was through the lens of a preeminent vintner, and world-renown expert in how one becomes and maintains success as a wine négociant… Monsieur Georges Duboeuf.
Let me tell you, it’s a fascinating read. Imagine tracing yourself back to the 15th Century? The family tree is complete, mind you; not skipping a beat, from one generation to the next…
Lifelong, closest friends of Georges Duboeuf are all in his book; a who’s who of Beaujolais. Some of those vintners mentioned I just met, took their photos, enjoyed their hospitality, tasted their own wines.
These are the kinds of stories we crave, those of legends, if we’re into wine. Georges Duboeuf is part of Beaujolais’ history for legally defining its terroir, regions, styles, soils, grape varieties… all of the steps carried out, in defining this specific region and history of France. That’s a very special distinction: to be this kind of innovator, a creator… Georges Duboeuf’s history book gives you all the steps.
This has been a long time coming, as I got Sipping Away, 30 Years of Unique Wine Experiences, by David Klein, just before I traveled to France. I took the book with me and read in flight. I was headed to Beaujolais, and all of a sudden I was reading about it… that the winemakers of Beaujolais are extremely serious and make complex and nuanced wines… the Crus of Beaujolais – all in regions where I was headed: Morgon, Fleurie, Brouilly, Moulin-A-Vent. What a coincidence.
Also, what a delight to read someone else’s journey, with many parallels to my own, but in a really differing segment of wine.
This is a story of a Jewish Italian gentleman, who grew up in New York City, and that’s an important lead into his part of the world of fine wine.
At first, I thought I’d be reading about wines he had tasted over the years and the experiences that went with them… including reviews. This book is so NOT that
When anyone gets into the wine industry as a professional, it’s a faster track to the world of wine knowledge. And, it’s done through so many different channels, with so many different nuances. It just depends on the segment that’s your calling. For David, it was to help his father in a liquor store he purchased.
In the fall of 2018, I read Tasting The Past, by Kevin Begos. It’s a truly engaging book, and one of my favorites for the 2018 wine book reviews, from books I devoured over the year. I took the book with me to Italy, to be read on the long flights from San Francisco to Rome, Italy and back again. I’m going to quote from the opening words of Kevin’s book, because they HIT ME HEAD ON; they’re so relevant to my title and backs up my perpetual thoughts of travel to completely “get” a wine, which then becomes truly memorable, from so many angles. “Produced and Bottled by Cremisan Cellars, HOLY LAND–Bethlehem ~ That seemed odd. It was the spring of 2008, and there were still vineyards in Bethlehem? My hazy Catholic taught me that people drank wine there in biblical times, but I’d never seen Cremisan on a store shelf or restaurant list, on in a review.
Admittedly, learning about wines outside of what’s on a retailer’s shelf or a restaurateur’s wine list is a bit limited. The flavors you might enjoy, but is the wine as memorable as being in that wine’s own region of terroir, and connecting more dots? From my own personal experiences, I have to say perhaps not as memorable. Now, if you can get a sommelier to your table and get her or him to share wine knowledge, you’ll add that to your experience of wine. That’s a bit more expansive.
But, what about world travel… right to the region where the wine is grown, harvested, created, bottles, and poured into a glass for you? You will remember that occasion and the wine that accompanied it, perhaps forever, as it did for Kevin Begos.
From Jose’s press release: The Wines of Long Island was originally published in 1987 and a second, revised edition was issued in 2000. 19 years later, it remained the best and most complete single volume on the history, geography, viniculture, winemaking, and the wineries of Long Island. It was carefully researched and quite well written. It is also seriously out of date.
In the 19 intervening years a very great deal of change has taken place in the wine industry of the region. In 2000 there were 25 wineries and vineyards, about half of which are no longer in business; in 2019 there are 62, including several wine brands that have no winery or vineyard as such and use a crush facility. A handful of the wineries are not even in the East End, but elsewhere in Suffolk County, with two in Brooklyn.
Wines of the French Alps, by Wink Lorch
We usually think of the French Alps for its world-class skiing, but do you know that there’s also some fantastic wines there? Wink Lorch has brilliantly written the Wines of the French Alps; Subtitled Savoie, Bugey and beyond with local food and travel tips. This is a major reference book. And, really, who better than someone who has a ski chalet in the French Alps. Also, who better than someone that first wrote a book about the Jura region, in eastern France. As writers go, Wink has taken a little known region and completely brought it to life. I just love champions of an underdog, because they’re pioneers… they fight the good fight as explorers. Wink has shone a bright light in a dark corner, converting the French Alps manifest destiny.I only write “dark corner,” because the region has always been there, but the publicity hasn’t. When it starts a snowball down a mountain side, the inevitable follows.
An avid skier, all of her life, and a very proficient writer, this book belongs on every library’s shelf. And, if you have your own wine library of books, you’ll treasure it. Everything you would ever want to know of a wine region is included. Winks sets the stage for you, putting the wine regions into context. She then writes about wine appellations, so you get familiar. The book has a lot of images, so you can begin to put it all into context. Then you’ll learn about food and wines. It’s a complete package, wrapped up in precise knowledge. If you’re thinking of traveling to the French Alps, bring this book with you. You’ll be much better prepared, and will flag pages, I’m certain of it.
She told me about one couple who bought her first Jura Book. They had now just purchased Wine of the French Alps. Her greatest fans, they had already blown through this one, showing her all of their notes. This reference book is 384 pages long. The font is quite small (for my eyes), the interviews are in interesting depth, and I just say enough abut how much this book is a treasure and extremely important to knowing the French Alps.
Some wine books you can’t put down. They’re exciting novels that are edgy, a bit naughty at times, and sucking you in ~ every second ~ for “more.” High voltage… Fiction at its finest. Here you go!
- Vintage 1954, Antoine Luarain
- Brut Force, Peter Stafford-Bow
- Cucina Tipica, Andrew Cotto
- Root Cause, by Steven Laine
WINE-BLOG REVIEW: From the moment I touched the book, it was immediate love… The smell and feel of its pages… A tender, Parisienne SciFi, stepping back through a 1950’s portal… all because of a bottle of wine, the right circumstances, and four characters… Every detail of 50’s in this story, and today’s modern times, are found within its pages. There are two realities; or, existentially are they? It’s for the readers to discover. Antoine Laurain has written a very alluring novel, that I will be reading again, just for the fun of it. My eyes were devouring word candy.
From Press Release
… because this captures the heart and soul of Vintage 1954.
Antoine Laurain has captivated American readers with charming books that combine a philosophical idea with an uplifting narrative. Each of his books are like a good fable that leave the reader with something to ponder.
Laurain’s new novel Vintage 1954 features a charming quartet of protagonists, a fabulous bottle of wine, vineyards, a love story and offbeat time travel. It is set in the nostalgic Paris of everyone’s imagination — when Paris was truly the style and cultural capital of Europe and the epitome of utter Frenchness.
Brut Force follows Corkscrew in Rollicking Hilarity, Outlandish Intrigue, and rooting for Felix Hart, Again…
Main character Felix Hart is Peter Stafford-Bow’s character of a professional wine buyer, who again steps in deep merde. If you think you can casually read this book, think again. It’s definitely a book that will have you leave everything else undone, until you get to the bottom of it; a.k.a, the last page that states “The End.”
It’s been left wide open, though, for the next installment, and I can hardly wait for the two years it will takes to construct such hilarity, scratches of the truth, and “what could go wrong next?” (which does develop in rapid fire).
For the lay person, while Felix Hart’s adventures take them into Wine 101, with words and explanations, like verasion, viticulture, pips, lees, and malo, we’re all then swept into the full blown planning of the Judgement of Bassildon. And, I don’t just mean the planning of who, what, when, and where, in its normalcy of planning. I mean the back end of it, where complicated chicanery becomes the usual, as the web grows larger and larger from competing forces, and guess who’s smack dab in the middle? Will he get out with his life and every limb?
Cucina Tipica, by Andrew Cotto
How Andrew Cotto unravels his Cucina Tipica novel is cleverly maneuvered. I just couldn’t put the book down for much else, until I got to “The End.” As I was about to finish his book, my heart was pounding and so wanting an ending I could live with. Cucina Tipica is story about finding an identity, for someone disheartened, which dates back to our hero’s birth right. Jacoby Pine had an isolated youth, for reasons you’ll want to explore, and it’s doled out in measured increments.
As I was on the last page of Cucina Tipica, my eyes swelled and a tear indiscriminately rolled down each cheek. I know, I know, it’s a girly thing. Still, it’s also a guy thing, if – in any way whatsoever – you (guy) can related to the main character Jacoby Pines. And I know there are plenty of guys who can relate…
Life hasn’t been easy or entitled for Jacoby, and a trip to Italy soothes his soul in many ways. But does he have to return to a life on the East Coast of the US, which was so unfulfilling? The anxiety had tears running down my cheeks, while I feigned irritated eyes to my husband. The one delight I have with any novel written, by someone who’s wine and region knowledgeable, is that I learn so much about our wine business and its culture in the process, almost as much as visiting a wine region. The fact that this book was written where I had just traveled? It held me in spellbound suspense, right up to the time when I finally and reluctantly closed Cucina Tipica, having all of the answers.
Root Cause, by Steven Laine
Steven Laine is going to deliver an impactful novel, of epic proportions. This story begins in the vineyards of Tuscany, Italy, and then takes you around the world’s wine regions, with its spellbound drama and your heart racing to keep up. As I was nearing the end of this journey, with all of its intriguing characters, my heart was pounding in my chest. Our characters Corvina Guerra and Bryan Lawless were either going to be heroes for world history, or major wine criminals, forever more. Never, in my lifetime of reading, did I ever wish I could read much faster… I even had the thought, “I wish this was a movie, so it could all just be delivered with quicker speed.”
According to his biography, Steven Laine was raised in Ontario, Canada and has dual Canadian and British citizenship. He has traveled the world working in luxury hotels for international brands including The Ritz, Hilton, Starwood, Marriott, and Jumeirah. When he was Beverage Manager of a five star hotel in London, he learned all about wine and has since visited over one hundred vineyards and wineries in Napa, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Lebanon, and South Africa. As the only North American ever invited to be a Member of the Champagne Academy, he had the privilege to tour the major Champagne Houses in France. His circle of friends is made up of winemakers, Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers, restaurant managers, and wine distributors from all over the globe. He is now working on his next novel.
And, I can hardly wait for that one, while I highly recommend this one, Root Cause.
Thanks to Wine Industry Insight for publishing this list.