Book Review: Bill Nanson’s The Finest Wines of Burgundy

Bill Nanson is perhaps the wine industry’s most professional non-professional. He’s not in the trade and in no way obligated to the producers whose wine he tastes and writes about. But his on-line Burgundy Report is one of the most respected and serious wine web sites.  In addition, he’s a superb writer.  Fortunately, the University of California editors behind the Fine Wine series of books on the world’s wine regions chose Bill Nanson to write on Burgundy.  In my opinion, the resulting The Finest Wines of Burgundy is one of the best in this superb series.

Like the other books in this series, this volume starts off with an introduction to the region and its wines.  It includes geography, history, appellations, viticulture and winemaking. Readers of the International Wine Review reports will find this organization very familiar.  Nanson’s introduction is followed by a presentation of exemplary producers in the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune.  Exemplary does not necessarily mean only the most famous. The producers presented include both iconic ones, whose wines most of us cannot afford, and less well known ones, who make the wines many can aspire to enjoy.

Bill Nanson knows and loves his subject as much as anyone, and it shows in his writing. His 50 page introduction on this complex, historic region is concise but packed with relevant information and advice, covering topics as diverse as the science behind biodynamic viticulture, the premature oxidation of white Burgundies, and the aging of red Burgundies.  The text is accompanied by artistic wine photographs taken by Jon Wyand, presented in glossy color. The combination of fine, knowledgeable writing and inspiring photography make this a “must-have” book for anyone interested in learning more about what many consider to be the world’s most special wine region.  Thanks to Bill Nanson, the editors at The World of Fine Wine magazine, and to the UC Press for bringing us a beautiful and fascinating read.

Don Winkler, Editor, International Wine Review


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