Our wine library of classic books and contemporary ideas, by Richard Mayson
Our wine library of classic books and contemporary ideas, blog by Richard Mayson
I have always thought that there is something deeply satisfying about sitting down at the end of a day with a glass of wine accompanied by a good book. It is even better when the said book explains the raison d’être of the wine you are drinking. It brings the wine, the region and the people behind it to life. This is the nub of the Classic Wine Library: good books for the wine enthusiast.
Our authors are all passionate experts in their field, many with a lifetime experience in the region they are writing about. For example, Julian Jeffs first visited Jerez in 1956 and took a job with a sherry shipper where he saw every stage in the making of the wine, from the vine to the bottle. He subsequently became a barrister and QC but maintained a lifelong relationship with the shippers and the region. His wealth of experience, wit and wisdom is captured in his book Sherry. Nicholas Faith, author of Cognac and The Story of Champagne, came to wine writing as a professional business journalist, writing in the Sunday Times, Financial Times and The Economist. His books cover the social history of two classic regions, brought to life with topical anecdotes. They bring the regions up-to-date and explain how they operate today.
I joined the wine trade fresh from University thirty years ago with great respect for these authors. In 1987, whilst working at The Wine Society, I was awarded the Vintner’s Scholarship and Julian Jeff’s book was my mentor when I spent two weeks on self-styled ‘Sherry safari’ as part of a three month trip round Iberia. One day, I thought, I might want to write a book myself. I achieved this aspiration rather sooner than I imagined when, in the early 1990s, I was commissioned to write a book on Portugal, a country that was still something of a terra incognita in the wine trade. Portugal was and is my passion, having introduced me to wine in my gap year whilst working in a bar and restaurant named Godot’s (it was so called because the owners thought that the place would never be finished!) I started visiting vineyards and, with the advantage of speaking fluent Portuguese, became good friends with many wine growers and producers. A few years later Julian Jeffs, then editor for Faber, commissioned me to write a book on Port (Port and the Douro) and I followed this a few years later with a book on Madeira (the second edition of which was shortlisted earlier this year for an André Simon Award). I am currently planning a new book on Portugal, to be co-authored with fellow Lusophile and co-editor Joshua Greene.
Little did I think, thirty years ago, that I would become editor of a wine series, commissioning authors to write new books as well as helping to up date some of the classic titles that I came to know so well when I first joined the wine trade and began studying for exams. So it is with great satisfaction that I see the Infinite Ideas Classic Wine Library coming together with the authors of new classics. Rosemary George MW, whose delightful portrait of Faugères, the leading wine village in Languedoc, was published this summer also began her wine trade career at The Wine Society. Her book on the Languedoc will be out in 2018. We have quite a few other new classics in the making. Roussillon, Canada, the Côte d’Or, northern Italy, Jura and Spain are just some of the subjects for new books due to be published in 2017. And I welcome authors Richard James, Rod Philips, Raymond Blake, Michael Garner, Wink Lorch and co-editor Sarah Jane Evans MW to Infinite Ideas.