<?xml version="1.0"?>\n<img src="http:\/\/www.decanter.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/34\/2014\/07\/000008853-Christies_Encyclopedia_of_Champagne_Sparkling_Wine.jpg"><h2>Christie\u00e2\u0080\u0099s Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine<\/h2><strong>Christie\u00e2\u0080\u0099s Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine<\/strong><br>Tom Stevenson & Essi Avellan MW<br>Absolute Press (third edition), \u00c2\u00a350<br><br>The latest edition of Tom Stevenson\u00e2\u0080\u0099s classic tome is much more than an update. This is clearly the creation of Essi Avellan, who, given carte blanche by Stevenson, has shaped it in her own image. One senses a new voice \u00e2\u0080\u0093 convincing, precise, analytical and mercifully free of dogmatic judgment masquerading as incontrovertible truth. Put another way, Avellan wears her knowledge and authority lightly, born of quiet self-confidence in the accuracy of her own palate, which is one of the best in the effervescence world.<br><br>Leafing through the encyclopedia\u00e2\u0080\u0099s 510 pages, the reach of fine bubbles across 41 countries is breathtaking, yet the author\u00e2\u0080\u0099s selection is always careful, her judgement magisterial. What\u00e2\u0080\u0099s more, she\u00e2\u0080\u0099s disciplined in her awards of stars and particularly of scores. No wine, not even one of the greats, gets more than 98\/100 \u00e2\u0080\u0093 something of a rebuke to the modern tendency of grandstanding pundits who blithely award 100\/100 to entry-level Bruts riding the wave of fashion. No such gilding of the lily here.<br><br>Most engaging is Avellan\u00e2\u0080\u0099s scrupulously fair treatment of Champagnes that may not be among her favourites but which get dispassionate, proper assessment. Having known her for a while and tasted often together, I don\u00e2\u0080\u0099t think that she really warms to a fully oaked, oxidative style \u00e2\u0080\u0093 Henri Giraud and Anselme Selosse are obvious examples. Yet her profiles of both masters are a model of evenhandedness, because she implicitly acknowledges that theirs is a style admired by some very fine tasters. Withal, Avellan stays honest in her appraisals of cult Champagnes. Unlike less brave tasters, she implies that the 1999 vintage at, say, Salon was not its finest hour.<br><br>The added value of this new edition is the much expanded coverage of the cr\u00c3\u00a8me de cr\u00c3\u00a8me of grower\/domaine Champagnes. Though still only a small percentage of total Champagne exports, these now have a visibility on metropolitan markets out of all proportion to their size. Window shop down Manhattan\u00e2\u0080\u0099s Park Lane, London\u00e2\u0080\u0099s St James\u00e2\u0080\u0099 or Paris\u00e2\u0080\u0099 rue Ste Dominique and you\u00e2\u0080\u0099re as likely to see a bottle of Egly-Ouriet or Jacquesson as a flagon of Krug or Cristal. The time of the little guys has come. In compiling her grower profiles, the author has been greatly aided by Amanda Regan, an Australian who lives much of the year in Paris and is a dependable taster of Burgundy and Champagne.<br><br>The coverage of fine sparkling wines across five continents is as meticulous as for the real thing. It\u00e2\u0080\u0099s good to see, in particular, the newish DOCG Prosecco Superiore, from the classic Trevisan hills north of Venice, given thorough evaluation and praise. The delicate, refined single-site Proseccos of such leaders as Ruggeri, Adami and Nino Franco are fine wines by any standards and particularly right for today\u00e2\u0080\u0099s trend towards informal meals. With their flick of sweetness, they can be brilliant partners of Asian cuisine and irresistible to sophisticates in shirt-sleeve moments.<br><br>The encyclopedia features a model glossary and vintage notes as good as they get. <br><br>Michael Edwards<br><br><img src="http:\/\/www.decanter.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/34\/2014\/07\/000008855-Native_Wine_Grapes_Of_Italy.jpg"><h2>Native Wine Grapes Of Italy<\/h2><strong>Native Wine Grapes of Italy<\/strong><br>Ian D\u00e2\u0080\u0099Agata<br>University of California Press, \u00c2\u00a334.95<br><br>This book had to be written, and Ian D\u00e2\u0080\u0099Agata is the only person I know who could have done it. Thirteen years in the making, in his own words \u00e2\u0080\u0098it represents by far the most thoroughly researched, in-depth and accurate book on Italy\u00e2\u0080\u0099s native grapes and wines available today\u00e2\u0080\u0099. That\u00e2\u0080\u0099s no leaf unfurled and no bottle uncorked.<br><br>D\u00e2\u0080\u0099Agata\u00e2\u0080\u0099s background in medical science and familiarity with detailed research stand him in good stead, as he turns the microscope to this complex subject in a Herculean attempt to bring order to the glorious confusion. He sets about his task with gusto: a man wholly immersed in his subject who delights in sharing his knowledge with others.<br><br>The book is written in two parts. The first looks at how grape varieties can be identified through ampelographical, biochemical and biomolecular studies and DNA profiling, before tracing the origins of their presence in Italy.<br><br>Part Two starts by unravelling the many grape families and groups, some of which are familiar \u00e2\u0080\u0093 Greco and Trebbiano, for example \u00e2\u0080\u0093 and others such as Gropello and Pallagrello less so, and whether the links between individual members have any true genetic basis or are merely circumstantial. The following 340-plus pages are devoted to the major cultivars that account for most of the country\u00e2\u0080\u0099s finest and best known wines. Giving the reader essential background information on each, D\u00e2\u0080\u0099Agata then lists the most representative examples in production today with unerring judgement. Of course, we might not always agree wholly with his selections but they offer the perfect point of departure for further discussion. As if some of the names in this section were not strange enough already, D\u00e2\u0080\u0099Agata then moves on to consider so-called minor varieties before concluding with a study of the various crossings also in use.<br><br>It is a truly remarkable work, not only for the quantity and quality of the research but also for the way in which D\u00e2\u0080\u0099Agata\u00e2\u0080\u0099s relaxed, often conversational style of writing lights up the enormity of the subject. I strongly suspect every wine professional and wine consumer with a serious interest in Italian wine will come to count on the book as an indispensable work of reference for many years to come. The variety is the star and D\u00e2\u0080\u0099Agata our friendly, authoritative guide. <br><br>Michael Garner<br><br><img src="http:\/\/www.decanter.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/34\/2014\/07\/000008854-Extreme_Wine.jpg"><h2>Extreme Wine<\/h2><strong>Extreme Wine: Searching the World for the Best, the Worst, the Outrageously Cheap, the Insanely Overpriced, and the Undiscovered<\/strong><br>Mike Veseth<br>Rowman & Littlefield, \u00c2\u00a315<br><br>That\u00e2\u0080\u0099s a pro mising title, and the author sets off by linking wine and extreme sports, an analogy that creates even more promise. Are we in for vinous versions of thrilling back-flips and broken limbs, chills and spills, startling insights? Unfortunately, we are not. The author is a professor of economics, and his methodology is classically academic: set up straw men to get our attention, knock them around a bit to get us thinking, shoehorn some conclusions into shape with a few caveats, and \u00e2\u0080\u0098next slide, please\u00e2\u0080\u0099. Thus, \u00e2\u0080\u0098extreme terrain viticulture\u00e2\u0080\u0099 skims over icewine, highaltitude Andean vine-growing and the lunar landscape of Lanzarote to conclude that \u00e2\u0080\u0098wine must be a very special thing for people to go to all the trouble\u00e2\u0080\u0099 to produce it under such circumstances. Later, a ramble through \u00e2\u0080\u0098extreme booms and busts\u00e2\u0080\u0099 concludes that \u00e2\u0080\u0098stability\u00e2\u0080\u0099 is the real extreme.<br><br>The \u00e2\u0080\u0098most ubiquitous\u00e2\u0080\u0099 wine? As any traveller knows, Mouton-Cadet. The role of cooperatives? \u00e2\u0080\u0098Quite diverse\u00e2\u0080\u0099. Basically, this is an avuncular and anecdotal version of Wine 101, blandly summarised in a series of ruminations that fall somewhere between lecture notes and blog posts. At the end, there are 10 pages of chapter notes, comprising a digital daisy-chain of blog posts, press releases, Wikipedia entries and a smattering of detritus swept up from websites. It seems, after all, that T S Eliot got it wrong \u00e2\u0080\u0093 the way the world ends is neither with a bang nor a whimper, but with Google and the click of a mouse.<br><br>Brian St Pierre <br><br><img src="http:\/\/www.decanter.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/34\/2014\/07\/000008859-The_Food_Lovers_Guide_to_Paris.jpg"><h2>The Food Lover\u00e2\u0080\u0099s Guide to Paris<\/h2><strong>The Food Lover\u00e2\u0080\u0099s Guide to Paris<\/strong> by Decanter contributor Patricia Wells (Workman Publishing, \u00c2\u00a311.99) is the fifth edition of this well-produced companion to the restaurants, markets and food and wine shops of the city. It\u00e2\u0080\u0099s sprinkled with quotations (Emile Zola on cheese, comparing brie to \u00e2\u0080\u0098the dull gentleness of damp tambourines\u00e2\u0080\u0099), black-andwhite photographs and 40 recipes (for example, Gontran Cherrier\u00e2\u0080\u0099s Chocolate, Honey and Nut Tart).<br><br><img src="http:\/\/www.decanter.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/34\/2014\/07\/000008852-Canadian_Wineries.jpg"><h2>Canadian Wineries<\/h2>Tony Aspler is Regional Chair for Canada at the DWWA, and his <strong>Canadian Wineries<\/strong> (Firefly Books, Ontario, \u00c2\u00a318) has just been published. It\u00e2\u0080\u0099s an engaging and knowledgeable winery-by-winery account of a booming industry, well written and well illustrated.<br><br><img src="http:\/\/www.decanter.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/34\/2014\/07\/00000885a-Wine_Atlas_of_Germany.jpg"><h2>Wine Atlas of Germany<\/h2>German wine lovers might go for a <strong>Wine Atlas of Germany<\/strong> by Dieter Braatz, Ulrich Sautter and Ingo Swoboda (University of California Press, Berkeley, $60\/\u00c2\u00a341.95). This serious, detailed examination of one of the world\u00e2\u0080\u0099s greatest wine countries focuses on the geology of each vineyard. It is an impressive reference resource, which adds to the sum of published knowledge on the subject.<br><br><img src="http:\/\/www.decanter.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/34\/2014\/07\/000008856-Penfolds_The_Rewards_of_Patience.jpg"><h2>Penfolds The Rewards of Patience<\/h2><strong>Penfolds: The Rewards of Patience<\/strong> (7th edition) by Andrew Caillard MW (Hardie Grant Books, \u00c2\u00a325) is Penfolds puff but the winemaker is woven tightly into the history of Australian wine \u00e2\u0080\u0093 it was established in 1844. The book features tasting notes on every vintage since 1951. Even the Grange of that year is now past it, but the 1952, made in the year when Anne Frank\u00e2\u0080\u0099s Diary of a Young Girl was published, Eva Peron died and the hydrogen bomb was first tested, is still drinking.<br><br><img src="http:\/\/www.decanter.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/34\/2014\/07\/000008857-Reds_Whites_Varsity_Blues.jpg"><h2>Reds Whites & Varsity Blues<\/h2>The Oxford & Cambridge blind wine-tasting competition is still going, too, and to celebrate 60 years of it we have <strong>Reds, Whites & Varsity Blues<\/strong>, edited by Jennifer Segal (Pavilion, \u00c2\u00a335). Pictures of Oz Clarke with a \u00e2\u0080\u009970s hair-do! Mark Savage without a \u00e2\u0080\u009970s hair-do! If you know the people, it\u00e2\u0080\u0099s irresistible.<br><br><img src="http:\/\/www.decanter.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/34\/2014\/07\/000008858-The_Concise_Guide_to_Wine_Blind_Tasting.jpg"><h2>The Concise Guide to Wine & Blind Tasting<\/h2><strong>The Concise Guide to Wine & Blind Tasting<\/strong> by Neel Burton and James Flewellen (Acheron Press, \u00c2\u00a325) is drier but more useful. It\u00e2\u0080\u0099s a detailed textbook. One doesn\u00e2\u0080\u0099t doubt that the authors are knowledgeable, but some of that knowledge seems garnered from other books rather than from time spent in the actual regions. It\u00e2\u0080\u0099s very thorough, however.