Hugh Johnson’s Latest Wine Guide

by Fergal Gleeson

hjpg 2016

We all think we are the centre of the universe. It’s how we keep going. It gives what we are doing purpose.

About 90% of your local bottle shop will be dedicated to Australian & New Zealand (ANZ) wines, the rest will be a mix of Champagne & Proseccos and a nervous looking bunch of disparate and misunderstood imported table wines. Australian wine writers have a similar emphasis on ANZ wines in their work.

The world’s best-selling wine guide, Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2016, literally reveals a whole new world. The sheer diversity of the wine industry is boggling.

China is the 5th largest producer of grapes. India and Brazil are wine making nations as are Bulgaria, Mexico and Macedonia. Italy has over 400 different recognised grape varieties.

I noted that French wine warranted 82 pages vs 15 for Australian wine reflecting the history and complexity of the world’s leading wine producer. Size matters but moving on …. the Australian section is concise but incisive.

Johnson is now in his mid-70’s but still retains a passion for wine and succinct observation: ‘’on Terroir: More winemakers talk about ‘expressing terroir’ than do it”. This little book has something for the curious novice and the wine know all. Wines from the Slovak Republic or Bolivia anyone?

How can one man know so much about such a fast changing and voluminous topic? Like the white bearded Christmas guy, Johnson has a team of little helpers. Campbell Mattinson, one of Australia’s best wine scribes, is one of 40 or so who gets an acknowledgment.

If you’re looking for a last minute Christmas wine gift, this beats the cork off other wine books. Like scientists who dedicate their lives to studying the universe it also confirms that the more you know about wine the more you realise that you don’t know!

Widely available. Price c$20. For more Wine Reviews read and follow  Drink and be merry this Christmas!

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