New book on Portuguese wines from the author of Port and the Douro

12 November 2020 by in Classic Wine Library, Wine and spirits

Portuguese wine and British drinkers have a relationship going back centuries. In the latter part of the twentieth century the picture of Portuguese wines held by most Brits was most likely a combination of quaffable pink wines, sunny reds drunk on holiday and Christmas Ports. But one Englishman was paying a bit more attention. Richard Mayson first visited the country as a child and was instantly enchanted by the place and its people, later developing a fascination with its wines. Having lived and worked there, including at one time owning and managing a vineyard in the Alentejo, he is ideally placed to introduce readers to the great variety of wines produced in Portugal.

In The wines of Portugal, Mayson demonstrates a clear love for both the wines and the country. After placing the wines in their historical context, the award-winning writer goes on to explore the grapes, of which Portugal has around 250 indigenous varieties, before explaining the demarcated wine regions. For a small country Portugal has a remarkable range of terroirs and wines. The book is divided along broad geographical lines into four main chapters: coastal Atlantic wines, wines from the mountains (largely in the north of the country), southern plains wines and wines from the islands of Madeira and the Azores. The wines range from the young, fresh, Atlantic-influenced Vinho Verde of the north-west to the “ripe and easygoing” reds of the Alentejo in the south, where the use of traditional talhas has been revived. But there are also the two famed fortified wines, Madeira and Port, and sweet wines such as those from Sétubal, which Mayson recommends as an ideal accompaniment to Christmas pudding. While the contribution of Mateus and Lancers to the revival of Portuguese wines should not be forgotten, there are now producers creating interesting, crafted rosés, and the recent fashion for sparkling wines has seen winemakers in all regions creating fizz worth celebrating.

Reading the story he tells here, wine lovers will find it diffi­cult to resist dreaming of wine holidays in spectacular Douro scenery or planning sunny coastal trips with a wine angle. Mayson is adept at explaining how grape variety, terroir, social changes, tastes in wine, vineyard management and cellar practices all interact to create the wines being produced today. Drawing these elements together in a compelling narrative he says, “Wine brings all these strands together: why is one wine different from another? The answer comes from the innumerable physical and human variables embodied in a deep sense of place. That, in short, is what makes wine so fascinating.” Readers who enjoyed Mayson’s two previous Classic Wine Library books, Port and the Douro and Madeira: The islands and their wines, should add this new book to their Christmas lists.

About the author
Richard Mayson entered the wine trade as a result of living and working in Portugal and spent five years working for the Wine Society before becoming a freelance writer. He is the author of six wine books. In 2014 Richard was the Louis Roederer International Wine Feature Writer of the Year and in 2015 Madeira: The islands and their wines was shortlisted for the André Simon Award. Richard has contributed to a number of publications, including the Oxford Companion to Wine, the Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine and the World Atlas of Wine. He writes regularly for Decanter and the World of Fine Wine and chairs the Port and Madeira panel for the Decanter World Wine Awards.


The wines of Portugal is published by Infinite Ideas on 12 November 2020.
ISBN: 9781999619305, pb, rrp £30, 234 x 156mm, 366pp.
Also available as an eBook.
Review copies available from marketing@infideas.com; 07802 443957

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Wine on the range: why Southwest wines should be on every wine adventurer’s list

21 September 2020 by in Classic Wine Library, Wine and spirits

Growing grapes in the arid plains of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico or in Colorado’s mountainous terrain has never been easy. Drought, disease and extreme weather events all present problems, but for the ambitious optimists who dare to pursue their winemaking dreams in America’s southwest perhaps the greatest challenge faced is convincing drinkers to try their wines. Despite advertising, the efforts of producer associations and highway directions to tasting rooms, many potential customers may not even be aware that wine is produced in their state. Now, a new book, The wines of Southwest U.S.A., by Texan wine expert Jessica Dupuy, aims to change perceptions and convince wine lovers that these states are producing wines every bit as good as those made by their friends on the west coast.

New book, just in

Hot off the press (ladybird sold separately)

Acknowledging the difficulty of her task Dupuy says, “taking on the project to share the story of wine in a quadrant of America that is most associated with cacti, cattle, and cowboys was a bit daunting.” Dupuy points out that the wine industries of these states are still emerging and working out their identities but she is not the only one persuaded of the potential for great wine in the Southwest. Many of the region’s growers and winemakers have gained experience working in more established regions, not only California but also Burgundy, Italy, New Zealand and more. They could easily have pursued their careers elsewhere but something drew them back to this part of the U.S.

Texas may have the most developed industry of the four, but those of New Mexico and Colorado are gathering pace and Arizona is generating excitement with the quality of its wines. Dupuy takes each state in turn, beginning with its history – the pioneering spirit that informed the development of these states perhaps goes some way to explaining the mindset of today’s winemakers. She then explores the unique growing conditions, the regions (AVAs) and the challenges peculiar to each. The chapters on each state’s wine producers cover around 10–15 per cent of today’s producers and feature those who helped to form its wine industry or who are actively pushing it forward. As Dupuy remarks, “this selection serves as a blueprint for the many great things that lie ahead.” The growth of the wine industry in the Southwest is reliant on people getting out and tasting the wines. To that end Dupuy concludes each section of the book with a listing of some of the places where visitors can best experience the legendary warm southern welcome and sample these wines alongside local food.

For anybody interested in discovering a truly up-and-coming wine region this book makes for fascinating reading.

About the author
Jessica Dupuy has written about Texas wine, particularly for Texas Monthly magazine, since 2007. She is a regular contributor as a wine and food columnist for Forbes.com and has also written for Imbibe, GuildSomm, SevenFifty Daily, Wine Enthusiast, Southern Living, and National Geographic Traveler. She is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, a WSET Advanced Certificate holder and a Certified Specialist of Wine and Spirits through the Society of Wine Educators. Jessica has also covered food trends for various publications and is the author of several cookbooks, including Uchi: The Cookbook, The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family and Love and Jack Allen’s Kitchen Cookbook.


The wines of Southwest U.S.A. is published by Infinite Ideas on 24 September 2020.
ISBN: 9781913022112, pb, rrp £30, 234 x 156mm, 268pp.
Also available as an eBook.
Review copies available from marketing@infideas.com; 07802 443957

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Climbing the peaks of South Africa’s new wine scene

2 July 2020 by in Classic Wine Library, Wine and spirits

Fifteen years ago, when Jim Clarke first visited South Africa, he discovered a country of contrasts. Although the era of apartheid was over, the country was still suffering from its legacy, with a huge gap to be bridged between rich white and poor black South Africans. The contrast in the wines was no less stark – while there were glimpses of the quality that could be achieved many of the country’s wines were at best cheap and cheerful.

Much has changed in both society and the wine industry over the intervening years, as a new book, The wines of South Africa, by Jim Clarke, explains. Where he saw potential fifteen years ago Clarke now regularly encounters truly expressive, quality wines, noting that the quality level in all wines has been raised, and clumsy wines are now a rarity. He says, “Today one can taste through the wines of South Africa and experience the expansive range of expression the Cape’s many terroirs are capable of … the industry is at a point where its right to a seat at the table is undisputed by anyone who has taken the time to taste. South Africa is making great wines.”

Of course, one cannot discuss the wines of a country with a political legacy like South Africa’s without placing those wines in their social context. As a chapter on the country’s history shows, the racist attitudes that led to apartheid, and which still cause inequality, were baked into the republic from its foundation as a European colony. Clarke devotes an entire chapter to the country’s recent transformation, explaining the efforts made by the wine industry to create better conditions for the largely non-white agricultural workforce and encourage more black people to choose wine as a career.

The scenery of the Western Cape is stunningly beautiful and the unique geography, geology and climate conditions here contribute greatly to the wines these days. While in the past, in pursuit of wines appealing to international markets, South Africa’s winemakers aimed to manipulate and obscure the natural expression of the wines, today’s craftsmen and women allow the terroir to come to the fore. By discussing the signature grape varieties and their expression in each region, Clarke says he aims to guide readers towards those wines that suit their tastes.

The book does not attempt to include more than a sample of South Africa’s producers. The profiles here provide a cross-section that demonstrates the range of different approaches and styles on offer, from large, well-established businesses through to smaller or younger producers, and show what is most interesting or representative within each region.

Overall, The wines of South Africa is a must for all those interested in tracing the rebirth of South African wine.

About the author
Jim Clarke became interested in wine after moving to New York City in 2001 and taking a job waiting tables, training as a sommelier on the job and through classes with the American Sommelier Association. A writing competition led to an introduction to South African wine and the start of Jim’s journalistic career. He has written for the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, World of Fine Wine, Beverage Media, and Fortune, among others. In 2013 Jim took a position as Wines of South Africa’s U.S. marketing manager. He remains active as a freelance writer, covering wine, sake, and related subjects. He speaks regularly at a number of wine events and judges in several international wine competitions.


The wines of South Africa is published by Infinite Ideas on 20 July 2020.
ISBN: 9781913022020, pb, rrp £30, 234 x 156mm, 324pp.
Also available as an eBook.
Review copies available from marketing@infideas.com; 07802 443957

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The Classic Wine Library – going strong

1 May 2020 by in Book publishing, Classic Wine Library, Current events, Wine and spirits

There is no doubt that businesses of all types are finding the current situation challenging. We wanted to reassure you that the Classic Wine Library is still here, and we are busy selling our published books as well as working hard to create new ones. We are currently preparing two books for publication in the summer: Jim Clarke’s The wines of South Africa and Jessica Dupuy’s The wines of Southwest U.S.A., which will be available in July and August, respectively.

In the meantime, we have a fantastic backlist that is now 24 books strong. If you aren’t familiar with the titles in our list, or would like to see what other books we’re hoping to bring to you in the future, take a look at our latest catalogue.

To help out those of you who are finding it hard to purchase print books we have halved the recommended retail price of our wine ebooks until the end of July. You can find them at Amazon, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo and a range of other ebook sellers. Please note that some retailers may take longer than others to reflect the price change. You may also see further discount offered by some vendors.

And remember, you can still buy our printed books direct from us. Our warehouses in the UK and the USA are working with reduced staff numbers, as are postal services and delivery companies so it may take longer than usual for your books to reach you. Please bear with us.

Finally, do sign up to our mailing list for all the latest Classic Wine Library news. We regularly make special offers for mailing list subscribers; you can unsubscribe at any time.

Thank you for supporting informed and enlightening wine writing
The Classic Wine Library

Austria’s wines go from strength to strength

4 December 2019 by in Classic Wine Library, Wine and spirits

The Austrian Wine Marketing Board is reporting that this year’s harvest was of excellent quality, with good volume. But many of today’s wine drinkers still have memories of Austrian wine that conjure up a different story. Overproduction, a wine industry stuck in a rut and, of course, a contamination scandal all served to create a poor image in the minds of consumers. But for some years now Austrian wine has been on the up. In fact, there is so much good, innovative and new wine being produced that Stephen Brook has needed to update The wines of Austria, with a second edition out this month.

“Today the quality of Austrian wine, in all its manifestations, has been fully vindicated,” says Brook. “Few would deny that quality is extremely high – overall the quality of winemaking is impeccable”. Several factors have helped to turn the industry around. As with its close neighbour, Germany, climate change has altered growing conditions, often favourably, allowing producers to diversify their offering. And the glycol scandal may have had a positive effect – it woke up those producers who had become set in their ways, encouraging a reconsideration of their craft in both vineyard and cellar. Wishing to avoid scandal in the future, the industry put in place measures designed to make quality checks more stringent and created an appellation system.

Having first enjoyed it in the 1970s, Brook has experienced the extreme lows of Austrian wine as well as seeing the country rebuild its wine production. Much has changed just in the four years since the publication of the first edition. New producers, new wines and newly fashionable wine styles, such as amber wines, are all covered in this comprehensively updated book. Many wines have been tasted up to the 2018 vintage. Brook’s refreshingly honest reviews make it easy to see who is making great wines today, who the newcomers to keep an eye on are – and who may need to change tack in coming vintages.

After a short chapter on the history of Austrian wine Brook provides details on the varieties grown in Austria. He then takes the 16 major wine regions in turn, explaining the terroir and detailing any significant vineyards before focusing on the most prominent and interesting producers. Although the growing area is less than half that of Bordeaux, Austrian producers are creating a huge variety of wines. The white wines made along the Danube in Niederösterreich rival those of Burgundy, Burgenland is renowned for its botrytised sweet wines and Steiermark has its own unique rosé in Schilcher. Even the capital, Vienna, contains a significant number of vineyards, from which wines are made to slake the thirst of locals and tourists who visit the winery-run inns known as Heurigen. There are also amber wines, Sekts and pétillants naturels to experience, as well as an increasing number of red wines. The book concludes with a summary of vintages from 1963 to 2018.

This meticulous book is an essential addition to the library of anybody selling, studying or interested in Austrian wine.

About the author
Stephen Brook is a distinguished author of numerous books on wine, especially on the wines of Bordeaux and California, and an award-winning wine journalist. He writes regularly for international wine magazines and has been a contributing editor for Decanter since 1996. Stephen is in demand as a guest judge at wine competitions around the world.


The wines of Austria was published by Infinite Ideas on 2 December 2019.
ISBN: 9781913022075, pb, rrp £30, 234 x 156mm, 324pp, colour plates, maps.
Also available as an eBook.
Review copies available from marketing@infideas.com; 07802 443957
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The full story of the birthplace of wine – and how it was reborn

27 November 2019 by in Classic Wine Library, Wine and spirits

Natural wines are currently in vogue. With wine producers from the Barossa Valley, to Bordeaux, to Napa experimenting with artisanal and minimum intervention winemaking, they have become the subject of much debate in wine publications and on social media. The methods used in creating such wines owe much to the traditional winemaking of the Republic of Georgia. Here, wines have been made for centuries using the same methods, which involve the grapes being allowed to ferment in sealed, buried clay jars called qvevri or churi. This has revived interest in Georgian wine but as one new book demonstrates there is much more to enjoy here than natural wine.

In The wines of Georgia, US author Lisa Granik MW explores the current winemaking revival in this ex-soviet state. A former lawyer, Granik was first enchanted by Georgia thirty years ago when she visited the Soviet Union to teach on a Fulbright programme. Over the years her obsession grew. She gained an MW qualification, quit the law and returned to Georgia on a second Fulbright, this time aiming to find out all she could about the land, its wines and the people who make them.

Having immersed herself in this culture she is well placed to provide a detailed and scintillating picture of a land where wine is integral and tradition is strong. But despite wine’s centrality to Georgian culture the current industry is very young, having expanded from a handful of producers to 1,300 in little more than 20 years. While Granik writes lovingly of these wines she is not uncritical: this old–new industry faces a particular set of issues. Many of those creating the wines are hobbyists with no formal wine training and believe that producing wines is simply a matter of putting grapes in a qvevri and allowing them to get on with the winemaking by themselves. This can yield some delicious, rustic wines but it can also produce flawed, unhygienic wines or wines unsuited to travelling beyond the winery gates. One of her stated goals in writing the book has been to encourage Georgian producers to strive for greatness. “Georgia may be the birthplace of wine, but its reputation as a source of fine wine will rest on producing balanced, stable, intriguing, expressive, unique and, yes, delicious wines,” she says.

The chapter on Georgia’s varieties is justifiably vast. Estimates vary but most experts agree that there are at least 400 native Vitis vinifera varieties here. Granik profiles nearly a quarter of these, in a lucid and easy-going voice that makes the descriptions a pleasure to read. Granik’s portraits of the eight major wine regions are vivid, describing not only the wine-growing environment but also focusing on features of the landscape and explaining how everyday life here is lived. Profiles of some notable producers and their wines are woven into the story to complete the picture.

In short, anybody who really wants to know Georgian wine needs to read this book.

About the author
Lisa Granik MW has a wine career that includes work in retail, import and distribution channels in the United States. In her current business, she advises wine companies and regions seeking to improve their sales in the United States. Lisa became a Master of Wine in 2006, and was a Professor of Wine at the New York Institute of Technology from 2013–15. She continues to speak about wine internationally, and judge in international wine competitions. She has written for publications such as the New York Times, The World of Fine Wine and Sommelier Journal, and has an ongoing column in Revista de Vinhos.


The wines of Georgia was published by Infinite Ideas on 2 December 2019.
ISBN: 9781913022006, pb, rrp £30, 234 x 156mm, 336pp, colour plates, maps.
Also available as an eBook.
Review copies available from marketing@infideas.com; 07802 443957
Buy The wines of Georgia