Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide: Oz Clarke’s Pocket Wine Guide 2009

Oz Clarke is one of the top wine writers in the world and his annual Pocket Wine Guide (Harcourt) has come to be a must-have for certain segments of the wine-drinking community.

Though at least certain aspects of the coming year might be lean, wine lovers can easily rationalize the purchase of Clarke’s reasonably priced little book as he goes out of his way to find not only the best wines, but also the best “World Class Wines That Don’t Cost the Earth” as well as “Top value Wines.” As well, he reports on producers and regions to watch.

Especially interesting this year is a section on the effect that climate change might have on wines and wine producers. He makes some interesting points, but concludes that the type of temperature change associated with global warming might well have us entering a “post-classic” era of wine production.

And as astute a wine writer as former actor Clarke has proven to be when it comes to international wines, potential readers with an interest in Canadian wines and wine production will want to give this one a wide berth: Canada doesn’t even rate its own section, but rather gets lumped in with “Other Wine Countries” between -- get this -- Bulgaria and China, both of which get a more intimate look than does Canada. In fact, of all the “Other Wine Countries” the one that gets the closest and most detailed look is England (Did I mention Clarke is a Brit?) which is just stupid: the United Kingdom produces more wine than only six countries: Syria, Malta, Panama, Lichtenstein, India and La Réunion. And don’t tell me it’s about quality: no one is running around claiming that Sussex wines beat the pants off… well… anyone.

Now all of that said, for many people, Clarke’s annual guide is an absolute must. For those people, Oz Clarke’s Pocket Wine Guide 2009 is a terrific gift.

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