One of the complaints I have of most wine books is that they are mainly for reference rather than reading. Of course I have a large library of wine books for when I need to look things up, but sometimes I think how nice it would be to just sit down and read a book about wine that rattles along at the pace of a novel.
There are not many such books, but my friend David Copp has recently added a splendid example to my meagre collection. David is no mean writer and he has three other excellent volumes to his name, Hungary: Its Fine wines and Winemakers, Tokaj: A Companion for the Bibulous Traveller and Australian Wine Walkabout: Notes From Visits To Australian Fine Wine Makers they are all available on Amazon and I recommend them to you.
David’s new book Bordeaux St Estephe: The Wines Of A Great Commune tells the story of St Estèphe in Bordeaux whose wines have interested me since I started in the wine trade. David is the perfect guide to St Estèphe as has enjoyed close links with the Bordeaux trade going back to the 1950s and has a deep knowledge of the area.
In many ways it is two books in one, the first half is a superbly readable history of Bordeaux and the Bordeaux wine trade. I recommend it highly to anyone with even the vaguest interest in Bordeaux or anyone who finds French wines confusing. I say this because if the whole concept of regionality and terroir that underpins French wine tradition is alien and odd to you, then this book will put it in context and open your eyes to what makes French wine tick.
It is also a good read and full of interesting stuff, for instance it had never occurred to me before that the old Kingdom of Navarre – the last vestige of which is the Spanish region of Navarra – was populated by Basques or Vascones south of the Pyrenees, whereas to the north they became known as Gascons.
The second half takes us on a tour of the wine Châteaux of St Estèphe and is a cracking potted history of all the famous and up and coming producers of this fascinating commune. I enjoyed it and will find it useful in the years to come. I just hope David gives us similar volumes on all the other communes of the Médoc.