edited by Sue Courtney
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The Oxford Companion to Wine
When Jancis Robinson's comprehensive tome entitled "The Oxford Companion to Wine" was released in 1994, I knew I had to have a copy. And it has proved to be the ultimate reference book for wine - my A-Z wine bible. But with any work of this nature, the reference becomes dated as the years progress and this is especially true in the rapidly developing wine industry.
So it was much fanfare that the eagerly awaited second edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine (OCW2) was released in the States and the U.K. in October 1999, although it did not arrive in New Zealand until December.
The first thing I noticed was its striking cover (a different jacket to the edition on sale in the US). And the book is a larger dimension (276 x 200mm) to handle the new three column format. So even with 500 new entries and hundreds of other revised entries, there are 200 less pages than in OCW1. This at least makes the book a little lighter to handle - an important consideration for those whose thirst for wine knowledge is so great that they will want to read it in bed.
There are four new wine producing countries listed in the Companion. Also new are vintage charts, statistics of wine production and consumption by country, an overview of investment in fine wine based on recent prices and a complete guide to the grape varieties behind the geographical names.
And the new entry on influential U.S. wine writer Robert Parker and his controversial 100-point rating system makes interesting reading indeed
Jancis Robinson wrote over half of the 3400 or so entries herself with the remainder coming from over 70 expert contributors world-wide, including Bob Campbell MW who provides up-to-date information on the expanded New Zealand section, now considered one of the world's most important New World wine producing countries.
Assisting in the editorial department were Australia's Richard Smart as Viticultural Editor, and A. Dinsmoor Webb, Professor Emeritus of the University of California at Davis and Pat J. Williams, formerly Deputy Director of the Australian Wine Research Institute, as Oenology Editors.
In NZ the retail price is about $135.00. Expensive yes, but certainly value for money with its 848 pages, 32 colour plates, numerous black and white illustrations and 31 maps.
The Oxford Companion to Wine contains anything anyone would ever want to know about wine and no serious wine lover should be without a copy.
Footnote: May 2000. The Oxford Companion to Wine is now available online on the Winepros web site. Just imagine it, and online, indexed and searchable Oxford Companion to Wine on your desktop. Use the searchable companion in the left hand margin of the Winepros site, type in the word(s) you are looking for and all the references that match your selection will be listed for you to scroll through.
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