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Michael Broadbent's Vintage Wine Hardcover – November 1, 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After devoting five decades to sampling, studying and selling wine, Broadbent boasts encyclopedic vinous knowledge. Head of Christie's wine department since 1966, the author has tasted almost everything. In this volume, Broadbent offers detailed accounts of wines he's tried (always mentioning when his last tasting took place), peppered with anecdotes of wine dinners and wealthy oenophiles. Each major wine-producing region, from Bordeaux to California to New Zealand and everywhere in between, has its own chapter. Chapters are subdivided into time periods, with an introduction to the region during each period, a list of specific years that produced great vintages, year-by-year highlights, and a zero-to-five star rating system for each wine catalogued. Broadbent gushes about his favorites, but he remains forthright: while a 1945 Bordeaux from Chateau Latour is a "great wine. Surely one of the best ever Latours, drinking beautifully now but with many years more life," a 1954 Bordeaux from that same vineyard is "chunky, coarse, and blunt." Anyone considering a vintage purchase or wondering about the right time to uncork a dusty bottle could consult this extensive guide. And anyone seeking to impress friends with wine bravado could easily quote Broadbent's colloquial opinions.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.



"Michael Broadbent is in the first rank of wine authorities, and has led the way in defining and commenting on wine for the past 50 years. His early recognition of the possibilities for California wine, and his analysis and support over the years, have been crucial in our development. There is no one whose judgment I trust more than Michael’s."--Robert Mondavi

"[Michael Broadbent] has traded in and tasted a greater number of fine and rare wines than anyone else in the world." --Jancis Robinson

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1st edition (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151007047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151007042
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 8.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #905,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I first fell under Mr. Broadbent's spell during my earliest days as a fledgling sommelier. His slender volume, Michael Broadbent's Complete Guide to Wine Tasting and Wine Cellars (1982) has long been, like they say about middleweight boxers, pound-for-pound the best book I've ever read about appreciating wine. When the wine auction scene arrived in Chicago in the mid-eighties. I can still remember attending some of the first few events at the University Club, sponsored by Christie's and conducted by the legendary MB. I was overwhelmed watching him lead auctions, but way too shy and in awe of him to introduce myself.
Because MB is a wine tasting hero. He's quite possibly the most accomplished wine taster in the world, certainly when it comes to Bordeaux, and heir to centuries of Britain's dominance as the arbiter of European and thus the world's best wines. This book, Vintage Wines, is a compilation of tasting notes spanning his career. It presents notes on thousands of wines in MB's impeccable, staccato style in which he is often able to elucidate the innate character or value of a wine in a few succinct phrases, along with his 0-5 star rating system. It also weaves in wonderful details of vintages, wines, and people he has known and loved.
Mr. Broadbent is a classicist, by which I mean his definition of quality predates Robert Parker's arrival on the wine scene. Inconceivable as it may be to many Americans, good wines were both made and enjoyed before Parker redefined the terms. Which is not to say that Parker adds no value to the debate, it's just that more modest authorities like Mr. Broadbent advocate a traditional style of wine making in which the individual character provided by soil and climate is given its expression rather than the creation of souless fruit-bombs.
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Format: Hardcover
By Bill Marsano. We can divide wine drinkers into three classes. Ordinaire Joe, who'd rather drink wine than talk about it, is here advised to flee: This book will bore him stupid. The Wine Geek is just the opposite; for him wine is an excuse to prattle about clonal selection and hints of toffee on the nose. He'll love this book--will take it to bed with him. It is a gold mine of tasting notes covering many decades and innumerable wines from most regions of the world. The emphasis is on France, with Germany a distant third (there is no second), Italy a distant fifth (there is no fourth) and everybody else reduced to odds and ends. There's lots of stuff on champagne and port, too--a quintessentially British slant.
Never mind: The author, Michael Broadbent, is British, and the British have always leant that way. He is also one of the Great Men of Wine: revitalizer of Christie's wine auctions since 1966, writer, advisor, globe-trotting taster and collector of anecdotes and memories. In Japan such a person is officially labeled a Living National Treasure.
That makes this book of value and interest to the third class of wine drinkers--the Sub-Geek (or perhaps wannabe) who recognizes that his enjoyment of wine can be enhanced by a little more knowledge of its history and traditions, its lore and learing, its famous places and personages. There's a lot of that in this book, and it's always modestly and charmingly delivered. The reader must patiently winkle it out, however. It's all wrapped up in sidebars among those endless pages of tasting notes (about 500 of them) and is sometimes hidden inside individual tasting notes themselves.
This is the sort of book that will grace a shelf for a long time. There's no possibility of reading straight through it, and that's the wrong approach anyway.
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Format: Hardcover
Michael Broadbent is a justifiably legendary critic whose perspective is especially valuable in a Shanken/Parker-dominated world. This book is great.

However, one word of caution on this book -- a non-negligible fraction of his tasting notes from old wines are likely inaccurate, because the wines in question were likely fake. Namely, Broadbent (and many other critics) relied heavily on a German dealer/collector named Hardy Rodenstock for samples of the oldest wines noted in the book (by which I mean pre-WWII and especially pre-1900). For example, if you look at MB's tasting notes on pre-1900 Chateau d'Yquem, it appears that one-third or more of the TN's are attributable to Rodenstock-sourced bottles. Rodenstock is now the subject of lawsuits filed by two prominent collectors, Bill Koch and Russell Frye, as detailed in a recent WSJ article. He is steadily developing a reputation as one of the bigger [...] in the history of the fine wine business. This is not to say that most of the old wines tasted by MB weren't genuine, but because Rodenstock was such a major source of old wines, it is now difficult to know which were fake and which were real.

MB was likely a victim of Rodenstock's chicanery, pure and simple. But the responsible thing to do at this point would be to issue a new edition down the road with known Rodenstock-sourced bottles stripped from the book.
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Format: Hardcover
This is indeed Broadbent's best work to date. He combines his 50 years of experience to rate wines from the 17th century to 2001 Vintages. Each page includes everything from average price to serving suggestions for dinner. This is a great book for the aspiring beginner as well as the seasoned expert.
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