The premise is simple: 1001 wines that a varied assortment of wine critics from around the world believe that you should try before you die. The emphasis is placed more on interest rather than purely aiming for the best of the best – many of the vintages highlighted here are top examples (such as the 05 DRC) but there was obvious care and attention to see some wines picked from lesser regarded vintages (like the 99 Chris Ringland Shiraz). On the Aus/NZ front, Bob Campbell and Huon Hooke both put recommendations forward (which helped ratchet up my tally considerably) and i do like the eclectic mix they went for – from 71 Grange (an all time top wine) to the humble (yet noteworthy) 2007 Jacobs Creek Chardonnay (which is freely available worldwide).
The biggest problem with this book actually comes down to Geography – with the state of the wine markets in Australia and NZ heavily biased to local product, much of the wines in this book are simply not brought to our end of the world. Most of the writers perspectives are skewed towards old world regions and styles (quite naturally) and with our distance from these markets (both geographically and figuratively) we just don’t have access to the lesser known (for example) Pfalz or Loire producers products. I went on a (online) hunt to try and find a few of the wines listed in this book to purchase domestically and after 15 different attempts could nary find more than one available for purchase (at a quite ridiculous price) let alone the vintages specified.
What this book does brilliantly however, is to highlight diversity – if the quality found in the Australian and NZ examples is anything to go on, there should be some very interesting and varied vinous experiences to be had in getting to know more of these 1001 wines – If I had a limitless budget I would treat this as my virtual wine shopping list, drinking my way around the world in an orgiastic frenzy of great wine.
In the meantime I was just happy to know that I had at least experienced 10% of the wines in this book. 50 wines of the 1001 I have physically tasted, with another 51 of them I have tasted other vintages of the specified wine (some of them numerous times – there is some well known wines in there). I look forward to ticking off more in the years to come….