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4000 Champagnes

By Richard Juhlin
(Flammarion; $60)

Reviewed by Nancy Huang

While many Champagne lovers are savvy enough to understand the prestige behind such names as Dom Pérignon, Rémy Krug and Louis Roederer, there are few that realize just how extensive and complex the world of Champagne is. Drinking the bubbly beverage is easy enough, but choosing a good bottle is an entirely different story, with many questions to consider. For example, what is the difference between a cuvée and a brut? Do older vintage years mean better Champagne? Should one buy a bottle based on its price and label? And finally, which Champagne tastes the best?

Swedish Champagne expert Richard Juhlin answers these important questions and more in his latest book, 4000 Champagnes, a comprehensive 384-page guide. Like Juhlin’s previous work, 2000 Champagnes, the first half of the book explains the popular beverage, including its history, methodology, food matches, labels, famous Champagnes and the famous people who drank them.

The second half of this book serves as a reference guide featuring extensive tasting notes for 4000 Champagnes, all tasted by Juhlin, world record holder for most Champagnes tasted. The guide contains detailed statistics of major Champagne houses followed by ratings and descriptions of each of the wines tasted there. Also included are a glossary, several “Best Champagne” lists and contact information for winemakers and producers. Unfortunately, the book is clumsily organized and lacks a much-needed index—surprising for what is supposed to be a reference guide.

Overall, 4000 Champagnes is more of a coffee table decoration than a must-have bestseller, but the tasting notes alone are worth the hefty $60 price. Juhlin’s guide is unprecedented in scope of information, and provided you agree with his palate, his notes will help you to pick Champagne like a pro.

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