If you are like me, you are always looking for good wine books both for enjoyment and for a reference. This book is highly recommended on both accounts. Curtis concentrates on vintage Champagnes although he does also include some non-vintage designated releases in which he has ascertained that all of the grapes used are from the same vintage.
The book begins by going through many of the producers which are grouped in rankings of basically five through one. Only Krug gets the highest grade. The classifications are defined not just by quality but consistency, availability and also price and re-sale pricing (i.e. auctions, etc.). While the list is not exhaustive, it is very extensive. I might put a few wines differently (Salon), though it is hard to quibble with the rankings. The analysis is quite interesting and will be useful for making future purchases as well as for exploration.
The second part of the book reviews vintages back to 1899. For a wine geek, that is a fascinating read. Curtis includes many of his own tasting notes on wines that only a few people will ever have the opportunity to taste. He also reviews some very common and available wines, which is helpful to get a handle on his tastes and preferences. That is key to understanding any wine critic. Finally, he has a thorough review of the laws surrounding Champagne.
I have one major criticism of the book which seems to come up more and more in wine books. It doesn’t appear to have undergone serious proofreading. It is hard to go more than a few pages without a typo, strange symbol or missing word. Perhaps the money for a final read thru is not there, or we need better proof readers. For those perusing this web site or my notes, and probably this article, it may seem hypocritical as there can often be found proofreading errors. The difference is this book costs $25 (paperback). The errors distract from the flow and enjoyment.
My other critique would be that this book will cost me a lot of money as Curtis makes the wines sound so good, that my wine budget may need some “adjusting”.
For those who like reading about wine, and for those who want to learn more about Champagne, this book is highly recommended. It will make a great holiday present for the wine lovers in your life, even if that lover is you.
My copy was purchased on Amazon, but most book stores should be able to order it.