Best Books on Bordeaux
Like any wine enthusiast, I've spent many years learning about wine via wine tasting, but also through reading. It has taken over a decade to amass my library on wine regions, winemaking, and critic reviews. Unlike Napa and Sonoma, which I can visit every day of the week, books were particularly helpful in teaching me about Bordeaux and Burgundy, the top of the wine "food chain" and an ocean away. Some books were incredibly insightful, and some were less so. The books that covered a single geographic regions tended to be my favorite. For anyone looking to discover the best books on the Bordeaux wine region, here are my top three recommendations:
The Wines of Bordeaux, by Edmund Penning-Rowsell
This book is both thorough and entertaining. It reads more like a novel than a textbook, though it is completely factual. It covers the unique aspects of each of the sub-regions and the interesting early history of the region. Not really relevant, unless you are looking to purchase a bottle from the 1960's, the chapter on Bordeaux vintages and the appendices on rainfall can be ignored. The most recent edition is from 2010, but the history is just as valid as the first edition, which I won, from 1970. But if you are only going to read one book on Bordeaux, this should be it.
Bordeaux, by Robert M. Parker, Jr.
Every serious wine connoisseur should own at least one wine encyclopedia. This is my go-to resource for all questions on Bordeaux. Compared to an equivalent book written by Clives Coates (The Wine of Bordeaux), which I also own, the Robert Parker writing style is more first-hand empirical data. This seems to make it more interesting to me, like a little inside scoop on the Chateau. It also has great recommendations by vintage that are helpful when shopping for wine. Of course, since it was published in 1998 it is missing the past twenty years, but that is why I use erobertparker.com. Even in this time of google research, I find it to be much faster to just check the index in this book and get my question answered with a high level of confidence in the author'scredibility. If you are only interested in an encyclopedia about the top tier Chateaux, then Clive Coates makes an exceptional book called Grands Vins that I highly recommend.
The Winemasters of Bordeaux: The Inside Story of the World's Greatest Wines, by Nicholas Faith
The first edition of this book had a better title ("...The Story Behind the Glory and Scandal of Bordeaux"), but far less wine substance. I much prefer this second edition version. Also written more like a novel, this book is easy to read and gives you the sense of actually being present amidst the great challenges faced by these well-known Chateaux.