Three new books
Being a slow reader, I’ve only read parts of these books so far, but enough to know that they are all outstanding works. They’re books that I’ll be reading from cover to cover.
Château Tanunda, Icon of the Barossa, Winemakers Since 1890, by Geoffrey C. Bishop and Donald A. Ross
This took two years to complete and was launched in late November during the official opening of the new cellar door at Château Tanunda. It marks 20 years of ownership by the Geber family, who restored the building and landscaped the surrounds to a level that could never have been dreamt of by the founders, who built the chateau in 1890.The word ‘icon’ is much overused these days, but it is absolutely justified here.
Geoffrey Bishop is a wine industry historian of high standing and it is no surprise that this book reads superbly. It has been researched, written, illustrated and produced to the very highest level. The pictures and illustrations alone could occupy the casual browser for an hour or so.
What John Geber and his family have achieved with the restoration of the property, to say nothing of the high quality of their wines, is extraordinary. The word ‘icon’ is much overused these days, but it is absolutely justified here. And this excellent book does it full justice.
2018, softback, 250 pages, AUD $65. Available from the Château Tanunda cellar door or online.
Hill Of Grace: 150 Years of Henschke Under Southern Skies, by Fiona MacDonald
Speaking of icons, Henschke’s Hill of Grace Shiraz is truly one. Much has already been written and published about the family and the wine, but this book showcases it all. Superbly written and presented, the book eschews gloss and the entire work, including the cover, is in matt finish – which suits the rural subject matter admirably. There is some outstanding photography as well, in appropriately muted colours, and perhaps most surprisingly, a black-and-white photo of the Hill of Grace church during construction in 1860.
There are tasting notes for every vintage, notes on various other top Henschke wines, a timeline, and contributions from luminaries such as Jancis Robinson, James Halliday and Andrew Caillard as well as journalist and family member Ian Henschke.
The over-arching feeling reading through this book is that of a family story, six generations of winemakers, which would be common in Europe but is rare in Australia, with an unswerving dedication to their land and to quality wine.
Hardie Grant Books 2018, hardback, 218 pages, AUD $ 59.95. Available from bookstores around Australia and Henschke cellar door and online. Gift-boxed is AUD $89.95 at cellar door only and online.
Sake and the Wines of Japan, by Anthony Rose
A fascination with sake is a logical progression from a fascination with wine, and so it was for veteran English wine writer Anthony Rose. They have much in common: the provenance and variability of the raw materials, whether rice or grapes; the terroir; the all-important micro-organisms that conduct the transformation of the raw material; the culture of the people, and the water. Ah, yes! The water.
The first chapter I read was the one on water. Water is as at least as critical to sake as it is to single malt Scotch whisky. The fastidiousness of the Japanese is evident in their devotion to the minutiae of whatever they attempt. The chapter on water will hook you into this book.
Anthony Rose has researched his subject with a meticulousness that is itself almost Japanese.
It’s a great read, but more than sake, it also treats Japanese wine – which is on a roll these days and has a very promising future.
And, for those visiting Japan, there’s a visitor’s guide and an up-to-date A to Z of Tokyo restaurants and wine and sake bars tucked into the back end of the book.
Infinite Ideas, 2018, softback, 380 pages, AUD $80 from www.angusrobertson.com.au