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Book Review – Michael Cooper’s Buying Guide to N.Z. Wines 2011

By November 19, 2010No Comments

The man is a machine! How does Michael Cooper manage to put out such a comprehensive book such as this every year? For the 2011 edition, his 19th, Michael has reviewed 3,333 wines in a book that is over 650 pages long. Michael is one of the most credible wine writers in the country. His factual style is very clear and easy to understand, and while this is crucial for wine consumers, what makes Michael’s book so important is that it complements his other work, that when combined, there is a most comprehensive overview of the New Zealand wine industry. Michael’s ‘Wine Atlas of New Zealand’ is the essential reference, and this is supported by his ‘Classic Wines of New Zealand’ and his column in ‘The Listener’. This guide provides another and essential perspective that the other books do not do..

This ‘Buyer’s Guide’ has Michael’s tasting notes and ratings of the wines on a 5 star system across all the wine varieties and styles that you are likely to come across. Besides the ubiquitous Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon categories, there are wines tasted from Arneis, Flora, Marzemino and Zweigelt! For many of the wines, there are assessments of older vintages and drinking windows. These supplement the description, quality rating, sweetness indication and value rating by Michael.

While the wine reviews make up most of the book, Michael also describes the different growing regions, summarises the 2010 vintage in these regions and has a vintage chart for the last decade. His ‘Best Buys’ are nominated (I won’t tell you what they are – you should buy the book to find out!) and discusses the ‘Wine Glut’, one of the most talked about crises of late. Michael has rated New Zealand wines on a scale of how ‘Classic’ they are, and this ‘Buyer’s Guide’ updates his ratings.

The book is a true gem and there is no equivalent in New Zealand. It follow a similar format to James Halliday’s books for Australia and this proven formula is superb for providing a huge amount of information for the reader. The only failing is one that which plagues all books in a living world. Material is out of date as soon as it is printed. While the vast majority of wines will be available from the release of the book, an increasing number will be no longer available as time marches on, frustrating both buyer and seller. There is no easy answer to his, and one must live with I, and wait for next year’s book. However, at $35.00, this is not worth quibbling about!

– Raymond Chan

Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide to New Zealand Wine 2011, Michael Cooper, Hodder Moa, Auckland 2010

RRP $35.00

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