Hugh Johnson 2018/2019

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Mark Carrington, Sep 22, 2017.

  1. The 2018 annual has arrived today. (No, not from Amazon).
    I always look forward to his introductory spiel. Yet again a cogent & well articulated piece. He remains a fine writer, with a down to earth feel for wine, together with an understanding of the current zeitgeist & latest flimflam. The passion appears to still shine bright.
  2. I find myself referring to it less and less but as it is inexpensive I shall probably buy a copy.

    Johnson writes very well, but I could easily live without the glossy bit at the end, and other ways the publishers have found to pad it out. I think they are losing sight of the original intention and name Pocket Wine Book.
  3. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    I presume Oz Clarke's competitor version is no longer published? Haven't seen it for a few years.
  4. 1977: 144 pages, 120 grammes. 2018: 336 pages, 300 grammes.
    Steve Slatcher likes this.
  5. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Probably a neat representation of what's happened to the global wine industry and the UK: in 1977 New Zealand barely existed as a quality wine exporting nation, likewise South America and to an extent South Africa. Plus the rise of the Vins de Pays, the newer regions and geographical indicators for countries like Australia, and the appearance of 'new' European wine regions on the global market, from Hampshire to Rias Baixas to Prosecco. I guess a doubling of the diversity, if not quantity, of wines being imported into the UK over the past 40 years might not be far off the mark.
  6. Some of those extra pages might be due to the availability of more wines. Others are due to glossy pages at the end, new sections at the front, and additional boxes in the main body of the book. Thicker paper too I suspect.
  7. The only thing we have found frustrating is the alphabetisation of the entries. I wish there was an element of grouping beyond the macro country level. It was great when we visited the Loire as we were able to look for the AOCs immediately around where we were staying. We didn't have internet so we were able to do a bit of pre-research to pick out a couple of producers to visit off the hoof.

    However, for our visits to both Burgundy and Alsace where producers tend to spread across the AOCs using it as a research tool was much more cumbersome and almost impossible in the Alsace where we were novices to both the region and its wines.

    If it were grouped even by region you would still be able to use it to see what he says about a bottle you find in a shop as there is likely to be enough info on the label to help someone get to the correct region to search from there. And it would also be useful for people visiting a region to find all the info from that region more easily to hand without having to have access to other resources to help you narrow a search, otherwise what's the point of it being pocket-sized? But yet, he has the separate Bordeaux section? When there must be as much variety if you take the Burgundy region as a whole, and the Loire for that matter (using France as the example given that's where our wine holidays have been recently)
  8. I can't think of another wine book that contains so much information in so little space, and for so little money.

    It has seen me through from a complete novice to the obsessive geek that stands before you today.

    I buy it every year.
    Neil Sellen and Lee Knights like this.
  9. Out of interest, what exactly is it? A summary of the wines he's tasted during the year?
  10. It's the reason I got into all this
    Lee Knights likes this.
  11. Hugh Johnson is 78 years-old. I think it's likely that his connection to the publication now is not more than editorial supervision, if that much.
  12. In the introduction of the Bordeaux section Johnson explains why there is a separate section on Bordeaux. At least he used to in the older editions, something to the effect that Bordeaux has historically been prominent in the world of fine wine and continues to be an area that produces a great deal of high quality wine.
  13. ... and the introductory spiel at the start, which was the basis for the thread, and some of the bits that never change. I think he also writes the "if you like, then try" section, and says which wines he enjoyed in the past year, so they can be italicised. Otherwise you are right.
  14. True, but there's probably as much mediocrity too. And continuing to push Bordeaux separately as the pinnacle of wine is doing a disservice to the rest of the wine world. My point, however, is that if a Bordeaux section works, then regionalising rather than nationalising the rest of the book would work equally well.
    Mark Temple likes this.
  15. In 1977, when the book first came out, one could easily argue that Bordeaux wines were the pinnacle of red wines, head and shoulders above other regions. Since then, the rest of the world has at least caught up to Bordeaux, and so I think the justification has vanished. But Johnson has long been known as a Bordeauxphile, even taking the position of its superiority to Burgundy in a rather dodgy debate with Jancis Robinson.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
  16. Over one hour long thanks.
  17. I quite like Bordeaux having its own section. It makes it easier to ignore :)
  18. Blimey. I've not watched it, but how on earth can otherwise rational people string out a debate on Bordeaux vs Burgundy for an hour and twenty minutes?
  19. From someone that has been on the UK Wine Forum since the year dot I am more than a little surprised by that question :)
  20. There should be a "Me no like" button!
  21. I quite like the guide and offered it to my children for Xmas before...
  22. To quote Chandler Bing; 'Shall I use my powers of invisibility for good, or for evil?'
  23. Exactly, they'd only be scratching the surface.
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  24. Probably no one believed you really hadn't seen one. It's only a few quid, so you should get yourself a copy, if only to find out what it is like. Meanwhile here's my best shot at a description...

    It's a pocket-sized annual wine encyclopedia, organised by country (and Bordeaux), and alphabetically within each country. Entries include producers, wines, varieties and regions. Includes best vintages, and those to drink now. Additional section for varieties and food matching, which remain pretty static year to year. Plus a few editorial bits that change.

    HTH :)
  25. I've had it every year since about 2001. It's a bit like a comforter/security blanket - i usually receive it as a Christmas present from my dad, and it gives a comforting few hours of browsing, skimming and cross-referencing in the holiday stupor.

    In many ways, content-wise, not a lot changes (it's pretty hopeless on California, for example, Ridge always gets ****, for example, and there appears to be no time given to the "new" trends, but a few producers in Spain have appeared recently that I follow. The introductory paragraphs for each country make decent reading. I do refer to it quite a lot throughout the year, and it comes with me on holidays too.
    Fintan Kerr and Nigel PMartin like this.

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