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Featured Publication
for week ending 23rd May 1999

The Stories Behind The Labels
The History, Romance and Characters of the World of Wine and Drink

Cover of 'Stories behind the Labels'

By Andrew Jones
ISBN 1 86333 1116
First published 1994

I totally enjoy books about wine that provide a story and this book is one that definitely comes into the story category. The Stories Behind The Labels is in fact a collection of short stories providing the reader with an insight to another side of the wine industry. Andrew Jones confesses he has always been intrigued by the history and personalities of wine and what better way to centre the interest than on the label of the winemaker's product.

The book is divided into chapters to reflect themes - themes such as 'Animal Lovers', 'Christianity and Wine', and 'Fragments of History'. There are seventeen chapters in total.

It's not only the story behind the label that is told, for in the chapter 'Presidents, Royals and The Famous' it is the label that these distinguished people are drinking that is the story. People such as Bill Clinton - although we now know now that he drinks Diet Coke, Queen Elizabeth II and Kate Bush.

New Zealand labels get a mention. The story of Babich, entitled 'That Family Sacrifice' and the story of Cooks, entitled 'A Mixed Welcome' are in the 'Across the Oceans' chapter. The story of Limeburner's Bay Vineyard, entitled 'A Pile of Shells', is in the 'Humble Beginnings' chapter and Stoneleigh Vineyard gets a mention in the 'What's in a Name' chapter.

I particularly enjoyed reading the story of Chateau Musar of Lebanon in the 'Personal Tales' chapter. It was 1981 and Andrew Jones tried to trick Wynford Vaughn-Thomas, one of the most knowledgable fine wine tasters of his generation, with a bottle of Chateau Musar. But it didn't work. Vaughn-Thomas was indeed a fine wine taster and remembered this wine well from the time he worked in Lebanon. And so the story of Chateau Musar is told.

This 270 page, A4 size book is studded with photographs and the two column layout makes easy reading. It's perfect for the coffee table or for the bedside.

My book cost $39.95 which is excellent value for a book of this size and quality. I don't think it is stocked by all bookshops, as it's a 1994 publication but I saw it for the first time only last March (1999). Perhaps it is new in New Zealand.

Andrew Jones has a website, entitled Wine on the Web. Here he continues the story of the labels. Check it out.

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