Wine Books: John Livingstone-Learmonth
John Livingstone-Learmonth is a British wine writer with a strong penchant for the Rhône Valley and related styles of wine from South Africa and beyond. His tome on the wines of the Northern Rhône is a magnum opus of great significance for the region.
I now experience a steady stream of books coming through for review on The Winedoctor, but try and limit the books featured to those that have intrinsic merit; this book certainly has that. It arrived several weeks ago, exacerbating the postman's already handsome hernia, as he struggled with the weight of the 704 pages in this fine, hardback tome. Such is the depth of information contained within that I felt it only fair to delve deeply before writing any review; this is a work which without doubt reflects years of graft for Livingstone-Learmonth, and I was determined to give that due recognition.
What this book makes plain is Livingstone-Learmonth's feel for the Northern Rhône as a region, as he meanders through the major appellations of the north, from Côte-Rôtie down to St Peray, followed up by the vin de pays. The book brims with accounts of personal visits, first encounters, cellar tastings, and I think there is no better way, save visiting the region for yourself, of getting to know these wines than opening this book. All the top vignerons are reviewed, with each critique informing the reader of address and telephone number, followed by an account of the family or business and of what wines are produced. The more highly regarded the winemaker, the more information there is to be found, and for many there are series of tasting notes, up to 2004 for some Condrieu vignerons, but generally 2003 elsewhere. The book is rounded off nicely by some interesting appendices relating to the Rhône Valley and its wines. This is a remarkable work, notable for its depth and attention to detail as well as the personal touches that can be found inside the front cover. I will continue to delve deep within; I humbly suggest that anyone else with a penchant to match Livingstone-Learmonth's do the same.