Today's most influential authority on wine offers the definitive guide to the most expensive and sought-after wines in the world: the wines of Burgundy. Including a detailed analysis of each district in the Burgundy region, from Chablis to Beaujolais, Parker provides an A to Z listing of 500 producers and describes their relative qualities and styles. 27 maps. 14 wood engravings.
No question about it, Robert Parker has set the wine world on its ear. With his 100-point scoring system, and his taste for dark, tannic, amply oaked California cabernet, Bordeaux, Rhone and Italian red wine, Mr. Parker has set the standard everyone now attempts to follow in wine making, marketing and buying. And that, dear friends, is the first reason why this failed attempt to write a "comprehensive guide" to Burgundy ought to be crossed off your shopping list. Parker's penchant for big, strapping wines is diametrically opposed to what Burgundy is all about, and quite frankly, based on what this book has to say, he plainly does not understand the wines, or at least did not when he wrote the book in the late 1980s. For example, because they are not the dark, tannic, and often low acid cabernet, syrah and nebbiolo based wines to which his palate is attuned, Mr. Parker assumes red burgundies, no matter what their source or appellation, are for relatively short term keeping. Anyone who has cellared and enjoyed even a modest 1er cru Beaune or Savigny from a good producer and good vintage at ten or fifteen years of age knows Parker has missed the mark and missed his calling. Parker himself seemingly has acknowledged that as far as Burgundy goes, he is out of his depth, having essentially abandoned the region over the past few years. That, along with reports that he has said some rude and improvident things about a number of reputable producers and has made far too many enemies in Burgundy, appears to explain why he has handed responsibility for reporting on the region in his "Wine Advocate" to a second chair. And after all, no one should be expected to be an expert about everything. Which brings us to the second reason not to buy this book. It is hopelessly outdated, in large part because Mr. Parker has spent the past decade turning his attention elsewhere. The book therefore fails to address the revolution in the Burgundian vineyards and cellars that has occurred since its 1990 publication date. Many properties have changed hands, many wines that used to be sold to large negociants and anonymously blended are now domaine bottled, many new and important smaller negociants have arrived on the scene. The quality and style of many wines have changed dramatically. You won't know about any of it if you look to this book as a reference in 2001. Which now brings us to our third reason to buy a different book if you want to read about Burgundy. There are a number of excellent newer volumes that will give you more information and more insight into what makes Burgundy a joy -- and which will get you closer to being up to date about what is going on in the region. Clive Coates' "Cote d'Or" is an excellent work. So is Remington Norman's "Great Domaines of Burgundy," second edition. So is Anthony Hanson's most recent edition of "Burgundy," although I think his book tends to be a bit quirky and he has some strongly held opinions that may not necessarily be in the mainstream, so I probably would not make Hanson's book my only source of Burgundy information -- it's a nice second or third text to thumb through and compare with others. And then there is Matt Kramer's "Making Sense of Burgundy," also an older book and not necessarily a good primary sourcebook, but fun to read and more in tune with what the region is about. This is not intended to bash Parker. He has his place for those who seek out the sort of wines to which his palate is attuned and to which he directs his time and attention. But for Burgundy, he simply is not a very good source, and his decade-old "Burgundy" is not a very useful book.
In Defense of Parker2000/6/28
Raymond M. Anthony
I have several excellent books on Burgundy, but this is the one that I refer to most frequently. Parker is the most influential wine critic in the world and as such has become the worlds most criticized wine critic, especially as to his 100 - point rating scale. For example, both Clive Coates in his book Cote d'Or and Anthony Hanson in his book Burgundy, both of which I highly recommend, are very critical of Parker's 100 point rating system. Some feel that wine is like music or art and should not be rated numerically at all (i.e., can one put a numerical rating on Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and compare it to a numerical rating on Pachelbel's Canon in D?). Others argue that young Burgundies cannot be accurately rated until they are given some time to evolve and stabilize. There is, however, a fatal flaw in this logic. The producers, distributors and retailers rate the wines numerically upon release using a scale of $25 to in excess of $500 per bottle, and if a consumer wants to be assured of securing rare wines in good condition, such wines must be purchased upon release. In other words, the wines are numerically rated early in there lives, the only question is whether the consumer relies solely on dollar ratings established by the wine merchants, or whether the consumer seeks guidance from an independent expert before making a purchase of what are some of the worlds most expensive wines. As useful as qualitative critiques may be, they are difficult to interpret without a corresponding quantitative rating. The format of the book is typical of books of this type, containing an analysis of the various appellations, the producers and finally specific wines. The write-ups on the appellations are thorough. Additionally, for each appellation Parker gives travel tips (hotel and restaurant recommendations, etc.) that would be useful if the book were more recent. The analysis of the individual producers is the most valuable part of this book, and is the most comprehensive of any book on Burgundy that I have found; the book covers virtually every producer of wines that a consumer is likely to encounter. The section of tasting notes is not very useful since the book is 10 years old, and a consumer is unlikely to be able to find most if not all of the wines critiqued. The age of this book is its greatest negative. The quality and methods of producers change over time; this book is badly in need of updating.. Notwithstanding this flaw, the thorough analysis of the individual producers makes this book indispensable to any serious purchaser of Burgundy wines.
Burgundy and Parker don't mix2000/1/22
I think Robert Parker should stick to Bordeaux and leave the complex area of Burgundy and its wines to the real wine experts. I often travel to Burgundy to buy wine direct from the growers and through bitter experience can recommend to readers that they forget Robert Parker. Firstly, Robert Parker uses his Bordeaux yardstick to judge burgundies. If a burgundy is inky black and unapproachable then Parker is impressed and rates the wine highly. To any true burgundy lover, Parkers reviews are nonsense and show a complete lack of understanding of what makes these wines so delicious. Also the book tends to show that he rates only those wines which are sold in prominent shops on main roads where English is spoken- Philippe Leclerc for example in Gevry. Burgundy is unfortunately not like Bordeaux- where the estates are huge and the Chateaux produce wine like GM produces cars. Some of the truly stunning burgundies come from almost anonimous growers hidden down dirt roads. They may achieve a miracle one year and a disaster the next! Robert Parker feels more at home with Armand Rousseau (shop on the N2 main road!) and Romanee Conti because they are accessable to the English speaking tourist, but is incapable (seemingly)of discovering the treasures hidden in Santanay and Rully and other little know areas. In all -it is recommended to buy this book only if you can't find something from David Peppercorn or Serena Sutcliffe, Michael Broadbent or Hugh Johnson - all of whom know their stuff! Bordeaux wines and the appreciation thereof is a safe subject for wine beginners but Burgundy is more like a mysterious religion where only the gifted should purport to communicate the unknowable.
Not as comprehensive at the Coates book; coloured by Parkers wine tastes2013/3/7
Julian H Colman
The book provides useful additional nformation and Parkers reviews. However, it is no where near as comprehensive as the Clive Coates book. And it is very much coloured by Parkers personal wine preferences, whch favours wine with greater concentration. It is the world according to Parker. And it is now out of date. This being said, it was a useful addition to my Burgundy library. I like to read several points of view when considering a wine purchase. It would not have been my 1st Burgundy book purchase. The Coates book is still the seminal work. Great Domaines of Burgundy was and would be my #2 purchase. I bought the Parker book at a used book price.
Very good book, great maps, commentary. Could use a little more info on wine-making styles, under-valued wines and special finds, otherwise it covers the region well.