MY FAVORITE BURGUNDIES
NEW BOOK BY CLIVE COATES
Published September 2013 by the University of Califonia Press
US $ 60.00 UK £ 41.95 300 pages
Not a text-book on Burgundy. I have already done this twice, and The Wines of Burgundy is still up-to date except for one or two important developments which are covered in My Favorite Burgundies. No, this is an account of the Vineyard, Domaine and Vintage Tastings that I have been fortunate to attend in the five years since The Wines of Burgundy was published.
Thus you have accounts of many of the top vineyards from Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Caillerets to Gevrey-Chambertin, Clos Saint-Jacques, by way of Richebourg and Romanée-Saint-Vivant, complete with in-depth tasting notes and detailed maps; twenty-seven Domaine Profiles from the Marquis d'Angerville to Comte Georges de Vogûé, again with extensive tasting notes; and Vintage Assessments (even more extensive tasting notes!) comprising Chablis Grand Cru 2010 to 2008, Burgundy Three Years On 2009 to 2005, Burgundy Ten Year On 2002 to 1998, plus 1995 and 1990.
"Masterful........offer(s) his sage wisdom and distinguished palate as our guide."
Heimburguer's European Traveler
'' Magisterial....The vineyard and domaine profiles are first-rate, reflecting Clive Coates' profound knowledge and long experience of this fabulous region.''
Stephen Brook, Decanter
"Clive Coates('s) acumen is unchallenged....his thoughtfulness provocative, and his opinion on individual wines as close to definitive as subjectivity can be....You ....can read with ....pleasure his in-depth essays on regions and domaines he has known for many, many years."
John Mariani, Virtual Gourmet
"A personal view enriched with Coates's expertise laid out in a number of sections including vineyard profiles, domaine profiles and vintage assessments. . . . Of value to a variety of readers, novice or connoisseur alike."
Jancis Robinson, jancisrobinson.com
Burgundy does not make it easy for the American wine lover, what with all the lengthy French names on the labels, the tiny vineyards masquerading as appellations, the general jumble of the geography. It takes time, tastings and, if you're lucky, a clever tutorial (preferably in Burgundy) to really begin to understand the region.
So if you are a total Burgundy newbie, Clive Coates' new book, "My Favorite Burgundies" (University of California Press, $60) is not the book for you. This very fine work is aimed squarely at true (or aspiring) Burgundy believers.
"Not a textbook on Burgundy" is how Coates, a distinguished wine writer and author who lives in southern Burgundy, describes this book. And he's right. The work is far more personal. Coates, a master of wine, is the best kind of industry insider. He knows his stuff; the writing is lively, fresh, steeped in an intimate knowledge of the wines and winemakers. But — and this is a big but — he assumes a certain level of wine knowledge among readers of this book, which he views as a companion to his "The Wines of Burgundy" of 2008. People, places, terms and processes are dropped into the text without much explanatory comment in the belief that you know what he's talking about. And, given that Coates' tasting notes for a given wine can range back over decades, there's a presumption that your tongue is well-trained and your pockets well-lined.
The book is divided into four sections: Vineyard profiles, domain profiles, vintages (when to drink that wine) and "general observations" on such issues as "premature oxidation of white Burgundy," biodynamism and global warming. Each section has its strengths. I love the detailed vineyard maps with every little plot delineated. The domain profiles offer history, personalities and lively interviews with some of Burgundy's top wine figures that both inform and entertain. The "when to drink chapter" answers all those who wonder when they should uncork that lovingly tended bottle. These first three sections are all liberally annotated with tasting notes. The final section gives Coates an opportunity to ruminate on assorted topics of the day. His essay on biodynamism is one of the best I've ever read on the topic.
"My Favorite Burgundies" is being billed as more of a personal and anecdotal book than some encyclopedic work on Burgundy. But there's still so much information here that even the most confirmed Burgundy lover may feel a bit overwhelmed — and delightfully so. As with great wine, there's no such thing as too much information.
Bill Daley, Tribune Newspapers