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The Complete Bordeaux Vintage Guide: 150 Years from 1870 to 2020

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by Neal Martin
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A chronological summary of each of 150 years of the growing seasons in one of the world’s most revered and changeable wine regions.

Neal Martin has been writing about Bordeaux wines for nearly thirty years, holding important positions at The Wine Advocate, and more recently at Vinous. In this sweeping, 500+ page book, he describes not only the weather in Bordeaux in each of the years he chronicles, but the state of the wine industry there, the responses not only to weather but other factor such as pestilences, and the expectations of growers and critics.

He includes his own tasting notes on many vintages, sometimes drawing on the writings of earlier critics such as André Simon when he has not been fortunate enough to taste relevant wines. And there are times when he feels the predictions for the future of a vintage may have missed the mark.

Just as significantly, Martin places the vintages in wider historical context, noting the influence of various wars and political upheavals on the wine trade, and highlighting cultural developments. 

Of the 1904 vintage, for instance, Martin says it “may well be the best between 1900 and 1920 even if the dearth of decent growing seasons damns it with faint praise,“  The year was also notable for the outbreak of Russo-Japanese war,  the premiere of Madame Butterfly at La Scala, and the first known use of slow-motion in a film.

Erudite and wide-ranging, but still capable of bringing tight focus to a particular moment in time, this is an unusual and notable guide for anyone with a serious interest in Bordeaux wines.

Hardcover. Black-and-white photos.

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