Wine critic for The New York Times Eric Asimov presents “The Best Wine Books of 2014.” This year’s selection is heavy on the categorical and regional subjects including Barolo and Barbaresco: The King and Queen of Italian Wine by Kerin O’Keefe, which narrows in on Italy’s Piedmont, a region that has, up until now, been a neglected subject in English language books. O’Keefe’s study of Piedmont is thorough, but does demand a basic understanding of wine production.
Novices may begin this year’s list with Natural Wine: An Introduction to Organic and Biodynamic Wines Made Naturally by Master of Wine Isabelle Legeron. In addition to her presentation of biodynamic practices and producers, Legeron also explains the complicated processes of winemaking in a beautifully lucid way. Also on the subject of natural and biodynamic wines, is Deirdre Heekin’s An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir. Upon returning to Vermont from Italy, Heekin and her husband break ground on their own vineyard, weaving it into the farmscape of their other crops, and make a strong argument for approaching winemaking and agriculture holistically.
On the subject of a much older plot of land is Shadows in the Vineyard: The Trues Story of the Plot to Poison the World’s Greatest Wine by Maximillian Potter, a thriller about the great Romanée-Conti vineyards and the assassins who attempted to take hostage the storied vines of Burgundy, France.
Asimov’s closing number, Sherry: A Modern Guide to the Wine World’s Best-Kept Secret by PUNCH editor Talia Baiocchi satisfies both the tastebuds and travel lust with evocative writing about Andalusia and its sherry producers as well as recipes for sherry-based cocktails and cooking, so that readers can recreate at bit of the Spanish region themselves.
Shortlisted: Native Wine Grapes of Italy by Ian D’Agata, Sake Confidential: A Beyond-the-Basics Guide to Understanding, Tasting, Selection and Enjoyment by John Gauntner, Jura Wine by Wink Lorch and The Essence of Wine: Celebrating the Delights of the Palate by Alder Yarrow. [The New York Times] [Image: Flickr/Feans]