Noble Rot: A Bordeaux Wine Revolution

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9780393326949: Noble Rot: A Bordeaux Wine Revolution

"Echikson's understanding and explanation of how the business works...is fascinating and easy to swallow."―Michael Philips, Wall Street Journal

For wine lovers the world over, Bordeaux is the center of the universe. But in the past two decades, revolutionaries have stormed its traditional bastions, making their mark―and their fortunes―modernizing the production and marketing of wine. Noble Rot introduces us to the figures who epitomize the changes sweeping Bordeaux―the noble family behind Château d'Yquem; a stonemason turned winemaker whose wine, made in a garage, sells for $100 a bottle; the Maryland-based critic Robert Parker, whose opinion routinely makes or breaks a wine; the New World operations that have used branding to undercut Bordeaux's supremacy―and delves into the mysteries of the legendary classification of 1855. 23 illustrations, map.

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About the Author:

William Echikson, author of Burgundy Stars, lives in Brussels, where he is bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires and a wine columnist for Wall Street Journal Europe.

From Publishers Weekly:

In vino veritas. Yet as Echikson (Burgundy Stars) shows in this entertaining journey through Bordeaux's wine-making landscape, the truth of wine is also highly subjective and subject to change. Bordeaux has long epitomized fine wine. In 1662, Echikson relates, the English diarist Samuel Pepys described "a sort of French wine called Ho Bryan that hath a good and most particular taste...." This Haut-Brion was the first Bordeaux wine; it would soon join a handful of other chateaux that became the coveted "first growths." Indeed, Thomas Jefferson noted there were "four vineyards of first quality": Margaux, Latour, Lafite and Haut-Brion. After a rigid classification system was imposed in 1855, it seemed likely that the French reverence for tradition would make "innovative Bordeaux" an oxymoron. Over the last several decades, however, some revolutionary "garagistes" (garage wine makers) have begun using new growing and wine-making techniques to show the world that less than perfect land and less than blue blood can yield extraordinary wines. Echikson, a wine columnist for Wall Street Journal Europe, profiles merchants, brokers, enologists and the most influential wine critic in the world, the American Robert Parker. The title comes from Chateau d' Yquem, the maker of a legendary sauterne ("noble rot" has to do with allowing grapes to begin to rot on the wine to achieve concentration and sweetness). Oenophiles will come away from this lively account with a sense of how globalization and economics have challenged the rot and created ferment and growth in ancient Bordeaux. 23 illus.
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