Over the past twenty-five years, renowned critic Robert M. Parker, Jr., has visited both legendary and fledgling wineries all over the world and has tasted hundreds of thousands of wines. Only a fraction of those wines have earned his highest ratings and are considered by him to be truly legendary. In his latest book, Parker brings together what he calls "the best of the best," taking readers on a personal tour of the wineries that have impressed him most with their dedication to quality, consistency, and excellence.
The World's Greatest Wine Estates pays homage to exceptional wines and the exceptional people who make them. These lavishly illustrated pages showcase 175 of the world's most accomplished -- and most spectacular -- estates. Parker goes be-yond the labels, bottles, and ratings to present the land, the history, and the dedicated artisans practicing their craft. Though they form a wildly diverse group, all of these producers "share an inexhaustible commitment to their vineyards, a passion to produce as fine a wine as is humanly possible, and a vision that the joys of wine are infinite and represent the pinnacle of a civilized society."
Parker begins with an overview of what makes a wine great -- the ability to please both the palate and the intellect, to offer intense aromas and flavors without heaviness, to improve with age, to reflect its place of origin as well as the skill of its producers -- and explains how he came to choose the profound wines he features here. He also offers insider tips for ordinary wine-lovers who want to get their hands on extraordinary bottles.
The heart of the book contains profiles of the greatest estates of Argentina, Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United States. Each region is illustrated with a full-color map and accompanied by an introduction explaining the general wine history of the country. In his profiles of individual estates, Parker offers essential geographical information such as grape varietals, average age of the vines, and density of plantation; details about the estate's history and techniques and the wines it produces; visiting information for those who want to see the process up close; and tasting notes on the best recent vintages from each winery. Each profile also includes photographs of the vineyards and the people behind the wines, and labels from their best-known vintages.
Complete with a list of up-and-coming wineries ("Future Stars") and a glossary of wine terms, The World's Greatest Wine Estates is a very special reference for amateurs and connoisseurs alike.
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Robert M. Parker, Jr., has been the author and publisher of The Wine Advocate for more than twenty-five years. He has won countless awards, including two of France’s highest presidential honors: in 1993, President Francois Mitterrand pronounced him a Chevalier dans l’Ordre National du Merite. In 1999, President Jacques Chirac signed a decree appointing Parker a Chevalier dans L’Ordre de la Legion d’Honneur, and in 2005, elevated his title to Officier. He is the author of many books about wine, including Bordeaux, Burgundy, The Wines of the Rhône Valley, and Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide. Visit the author online at www.eRobertParker.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
A Workable Definition of Greatness
The Elements of a Great Wine
What is a great wine? This is one of the most controversial subjects of the vinous world. Isn't greatness in wine, much like a profound expression of art or music, something very personal and subjective? As much as I agree that the appreciation and enjoyment of art, music, or wine is indeed personal, high quality in wine, as in art and music, does tend to be subject to widespread agreement (except for the occasional contrarian). Few art aficionados would disagree with the fact that Picasso, Rembrandt, Bacon, Matisse, Van Gogh, or Michelangelo were extraordinary artists. And though certainly some dissenters can be found regarding the merits of composers such as Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, or Brahms, or in the more modern era, such musicians/songwriters as Bob Dylan, the Beatles, or the Rolling Stones, the majority opinion is that these people have produced exceptional music.
It is no different with wine. Most wine drinkers agree that the legendary wines of the 20th century -- 1945 Mouton Rothschild, 1945 Haut-Brion, 1947 Cheval Blanc, 1947 Pètrus, 1961 Latour, 1982 Mouton Rothschild, 1982 Le Pin, 1982 Lèoville-Las-Cases, 1989 Haut-Brion, 1990 Margaux, and 1990 Pètrus, to name some of the most renowned red Bordeaux -- are profoundly riveting. Tasting is indeed subjective, and no one should feel forced to feign fondness for a work by Picasso or Beethoven, much less a bottle of 1961 Latour, but as with most of the finest things in life, there is considerable agreement as to what represents high quality.
Two things that all can agree on are the origin and production of the world's finest wines. Great wines emanate from well-placed vineyards with microclimates favorable to specific types of grapes. Profound wines, whether they are from France, Italy, Spain, California, or Australia, are also the product of conservative viticultural practices that emphasize low yields, and physiologically rather than analytically ripe fruit. After 27 years spent tasting over 300,000 wines, I have never tasted a superb wine that was made from underripe fruit. Does anyone enjoy the flavors of an underripe orange, peach, apricot, or cherry? Low yields and ripe fruit are essential for the production of extraordinary wines, yet it is amazing how many wineries never seem to understand this fundamental principle.
In addition to the commonsense approach of harvesting mature fruit, and pruning to discourage the vine from overproducing, the winery's individual winemaking philosophy is of paramount importance. Exceptional wines (whether they be red, white, or sparkling) emerge from a similar philosophy, which includes the following: 1) permit the vineyard's terroir (soil, microclimate, distinctiveness) to express itself; 2) allow the purity and characteristics of the grape varietal, or blend of varietals, to be faithfully represented in the wine; 3) produce a wine without distorting the personality and character of a particular vintage by excessive manipulation; 4) follow an uncompromising, noninterventionist winemaking philosophy that eschews the food-processing, industrial mindset of high-tech winemaking -- in short, give the wine a chance to make itself naturally without the human element attempting to sculpt or alter the wine's intrinsic character; 5) follow a policy of minimal handling, clarification, and treatment of the wine so that what is placed in the bottle represents as natural an expression of the vineyard, varietal, and vintage as is possible. In keeping with this overall philosophy, winemakers who attempt to reduce such traumatic clarification procedures as fining and filtration, while also lowering sulphur levels (which can dry out a wine's fruit, bleach color from a wine, and exacerbate the tannin's sharpness), produce wines with far more aromatics and flavors, as well as more enthralling textures. These are wines that offer consumers their most compelling and rewarding drinking experiences. Assuming there is a relatively broad consensus as to how the world's finest wines originate, what follows is my working definition of an exceptional wine. In short, what are the characteristics of a great wine?
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