Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wines Of the Southern Hemisphere: The Complete Guide

It is now autumn, with a brisk chill to the air, and the winter season will arrive in a couple months. We often don't think about the fact that in the Southern Hemisphere it is now spring, and they are looking forward to summer in a couple months. Near the end of our winter, grape harvest will begin in countries like Argentina and South Africa. How much do you know about the wine regions of the Southern Hemisphere?

You can learn more about these regions in a newly released book, Wines of the Southern Hemisphere: The Complete Guide, written by Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen, the World Wine Guys (Sterling Epicure, October 2012, $24.95). It is a 580 page hardcover book, broken down into seven chapters, each covering a different wine producing country. DeSimone and Jenssen are wine, spirits, food and travel writers and are the Entertaining & Lifestyle Contributing Editors for Wine Enthusiast Magazine. They have also written for numerous other magazines and previously published The Fire Island Cookbook.

Their book covers seven countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and Uruguay. Each chapter is broken down into five sections: a History & Overview, Major Grape Varieties, Wine Regions, Recipes and In Their Own Words. The greatest bulk of the book consists of information about the wineries of these regions. Australia and New Zealand have the longest chapters, each over 100 pages. It is great to see coverage of Brazil and Uruguay, two countries which seem to rarely be addressed anywhere else. 

This book is primarily geared toward the novice wine lover, providing more of a general overview rather than a comprehensive and detailed exploration of these regions. A more advanced wine lover may want much more detail than is provided in sections like the brief History & Overview. Personally, I would have liked to see a more extensive exploration of the history of these countries. The Major Grape Varieties is useful, though I would have also liked to see some information on the lesser known grapes too, to see which new grapes may be up and coming.

The Wine Regions section, the largest part of each chapter, discusses each country's wine regions and then lists many wineries in those various regions, providing basic information about the wineries with a few tasting notes of their wines. This is more of a starting point about these wineries, a sampling that might intrigue you to seek more information elsewhere.    

It is the other two sections of each chapter which most intrigued me. Each chapter contains one to four Recipes, usually provided by the wineries, and often represent regional specialties. For example, you will find a recipe for Familia Zuccardi's Argentine Empanadas. I have visited the Zuccardi winery and greatly enjoyed their empanadas, so it was cool to see this recipe in this book. As another example, you will find a recipe for the Pisco Sour cocktail in the Chile chapter, another item I enjoyed while visiting Chile. From Bellingham Braai Pie (South Africa) to Waipara Lamb Chops (New Zealand), there is much to entice the food lover in this section.

The final section of each chapter is In Their Own Words, a series of interviews with wine personalities from each region. You will find fascinating interviews with people such as Laura Catena of Argentina (winemaker/owner of Catena Zapata), to Philip Van Zyl of South Africa (editor of Platter's Guide). This section will appeal to wine lovers of all levels, providing intriguing insights into the wine industry of each country. These interviews captivated my attention and I am sure other wine lovers, from novices to advanced, will also find much of interest and value.

At $24.95, this hefty book offers an excellent value as an introduction to the wine regions of the Southern Hemisphere. Though primarily for novice wine lovers, there are sections, like Recipes and In Their Own Words, which will appeal to more advanced wine lovers too. The chapters on Brazil and Uruguay also provide much needed information on these countries, information which is tough to find in other wine books. With the holiday season, consider this book as a gift for your wine lover friends.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this thoughtful, balanced review. One point though: the grapes sections feature up-and-comers. For a few examples among many, see Viognier in Argentiina, Sangiovese and Tempranillo in Australia, and Semillon in New Zealand. Again--thank you for spreading the word! --Mike and Jeff