Benjamin Wallace: The Billionaire’s Vinegar
The Billionaire’s Vinegar tells the story of a Bordeaux 1st growth that supposedly was acquired in the 1780’s by Thomas Jefferson, the USA’s founding father, who was living in Paris at the time, and then “discovered” some two hundred years later and sold at auction for a record price in 1985. The book leads the reader into the rarified atmosphere of high end wine collecting and the potential for counterfeiting. As a result of a successful legal suit, this book is now unavailable in the UK.
Ralph Steadman: Untrodden Grapes
Steadman is an English graphic artist with a wicked sense of wit. He used to feature regularly in Private Eye, the English satirical magazine, and he has done work for Hunter S. Thompson (books), Pink Floyd (album covers), and illustrated a number of wine bottles. This book features commentary and sketches of the people and places he’s visited in his pursuit of great wine.
The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of AmericanTaste, by Elin McCoy
This book chronicles the rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr., the world’s most influential and controversial wine critic, who, over the last twenty five years, has dominated the international wine world and caused a revolution in the way wines around the globe are made, sold, and talked about. To his legions of fans, Parker is a cross between Julia Child and Ralph Nader, part enthusiastic sensualist and part consumer crusader. To his many enemies, he is a self appointed wine judge bent on reducing the meaning of wine to a two digit number.
Parker’s bimonthly newsletter, The Wine Advocate exerts a significant influence on consumers’ wine buying habits and impacts the way wine is being made in every wine producing country in the world. He has been profiled in countless magazines and newspapers and most of his books have been best sellers. Despite all this, Parker stands at the centre of a heated controversy. Is he a passionate lover of wine who, more than anyone else, is responsible for its vastly improved quality, or is he, as others claim, waging a war against centuries of tradition and in the process killing the soul of wine.
The Emperor of Wine tackles the myriad questions that swirl about Parker and reveals how he became both worshipped and despised, revered as an infallible palate by some and blamed by others for remaking the world’s wine industry into a single global market, causing prices to skyrocket, and single-handedly reshaping the taste of wine to his own preference.
In telling Parker’s story, McCoy gives readers an insider’s view of the eccentric personalities, bitter feuds, controversies, passions, payoffs, and secrets of the wine world, explaining how wine reputations are made, how and why wine critics agree and disagree, and tracking the startling ways wines are judged, promoted, made, and sold today. This fascinating portrait of a modern day cultural colossus shows how a world that once was the province of gentlemen’s clubs and the pastime of stuffed shirts turned into a sensual hobby for the middle class, creating a luxury industry bent on making money on a worldwide scale and how one man has revolutionized the way the world thinks about wine.
The Widow Clicquot by Tilar J. Mazzeo
This is the story behind one of the great champagne houses of the world. Barb-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin was born into a life of luxury in Reims, France. Her husband died suddenly when she was only 27 leaving their small wine brokerage on the verge of collapse. In the next ten years, she transformed the business into perhaps the most important champagne house of the nineteenth century and introduced technical innovations, which are with us to this day. In doing so, she became one of the wealthiest and celebrated entrepreneurs in all of Europe.
Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch
Kermit Lynch is a USA wine merchant specializing in small production, expressive, and lighter-styled French wines in contrast to the rich, full-bodied wines that the critics favoured throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. In 1988, possibly as a rebuttal of the trends of the time, Lynch authored a memoir “Adventures on the Wine Route: A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France”.
The book is an account of his travels through the major French wine regions, as he searches for wines to buy, including the Loire, Bordeaux, Provence, Beaujolais, Chablis, and the Rhone. In his account, he tries to find the very essence of the wine world and draws vivid portraits of the various vintners he meets.
When the book was first published, Victor Hazan said, In Kermit Lynch’s small, true, delightful book there is more understanding about what wine really is than in everything else I have read. In 2007, Eric Asimov, in The New York Times, called it one of the finest American books on wine, and in 2012, The Wall Street Journal proclaimed that it may be the best book on the wine business
In 2013, a 25th Anniversary edition was produced including an epilogue in which Lynch provides an update on some of the colourful wine making characters and families detailed in his memoir, and a list of his twenty-five most memorable wines.