Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2010

Published by Sally on October 27, 2009

Title of book:   Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2010
Author: Hugh Johnson, et al.
Publisher: Mitchell Beazley
Publication date: 2009
ISBN      978 1 845 33501 4
Pages: 320
Price:   £10.99


HJ's Pocket Wine Book

HJ's Pocket Wine Book

The book inevitably attempts to cover an impossible amount of detail in such a tiny volume, and it goes along its way to achieving this by using codes and symbols. The reader inevitably requires a degree in abbreviations and colour co-ordination to get the best from the book. However the cross-referencing is pretty straightforward once you’ve got the hang of it, though for the neophyte it will take a little time. It is worth the perseverance because this little volume does pack an holistic vinous punch significantly above its weight.

There’s a decent little food and wine section, for those moments at table when you’re confronted with the menu, and need to select the right style of wine; you may not need to know the reasoning behind the choice, just to make the right one at that moment. And HJ’s humour comes to the fore with his recommendation for coq au vin “one bottle of Chambertin in the dish, two on the table.”

For HJ followers it’s good to have a glimpse of what he’s been enjoying over the previous twelve months, and gratifying to learn there’s even a pinot grigio in there (albeit Livio Felluga’s), among the more classic Domaine de Chevalier, though HJ doesn’t divulge which vintage(s) of Chevalier have stood out in his mind as particularly pleasant (maybe have the vintages in italicised text too next year).

Into the meat of the book, and its by now familiar – having first been published in Silver Jubilee year, 1977 – alphabetical listing by country, of wines, producers, appellations and other wine-related phenomena. This is an especially good way of organising information if you don’t know if, for example, Comté Tolosan is a producer or a region.

Minor gripes include the inevitable imprecision on heavily précised technical definitions. ‘A little learning …’ (inside the back cover) really may be a dangerous thing, and is arguably too briefly explained.

It would have been good for the psyche to have kept the price under the tenner barrier, but no doubt it is discounted somewhere.

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