Stuart George

Hugh Johnson’s Wine Companion

Image courtesy of Octopus BooksHugh Johnson; fully revised and updated by Stephen Brook

672pp

Mitchell Beazley

£40

In his introduction, Hugh Johnson writes, “ It has been 25 years since the first publication of this book: beyond argument, the most eventful quarter-century in the history of wine. Five previous editions have done their best to keep up with the ever accelerating change. For this and the previous edition I have recruited one of the best-informed and most polished minds in the world of wine: Stephen Brook, himself the author of 12 books on the subject, to scan all my accumulated work and correct and update it for the twenty-first century with all the resources at the publisher’s disposal” (p.6).

There could be no better person than Stephen Brook to update this splendid book. He is supremely well-informed on just about everything to do with wine. It is hard to think of a region or producer of note that has not been included. However, I might have included Cricova in the Moldova listings and Magrez-Aruga in the Japanese section. And it is something of a pity not to see Persimmon Creek Vineyards of Georgia—the US state, that is.

The technical stuff is very well-explained and the maps at the back of the book are extremely informative and helpful. There must be thousands of pithy producer profiles here; they are all done accurately and often wittily. It is a tremendous feat to put so much knowledge into print.

For £40, though, one would hope not to see solecisms such as “Featsaca Alba” (p.17),  “Fifteen to years” (p.52), “Vlctorian” (p.58) or “inetrnational” (p.97). Poor proof reading has been a feature of Mitchell Beazley’s wine books for some time now. But Hugh Johnson’s Wine Companion remains an indispensable reference work.

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