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Château Margaux

By Nicholas Faith
(Éditions Flammarion, $50)

Reviewed by Nancy Huang

Simply to have a bottle of Château Margaux on your dining room table is not just a declaration of your love for Bordeaux, but a show of reverence to one of the pillars of French wine. In Château Margaux, author and financial journalist Nicholas Faith pays homage to this famous vineyard and its long and storied heritage. Starting in the 17th century with the purchase of the land by the Lestonnac family, Faith traces the history and "renaissance" of the estate, its land and its people to the château's present-day manager, Corinne Mentzelopoulos. Also included is a detailed description of the vineyard's wine and winemaking techniques, as well as essays from architect Jean Dethier and master sommeliers George Lepre, Markus Del Monego and Shinya Tasaki. Detailed tasting notes from every vintage since 1945 round out the hefty 160-page book.

Beautiful, crisp photographs adorn nearly every page of the book, enough so that it makes you wonder whether the entire tome could have been solely photos and captions. Although far from a good read, should the text catch your eye, you'll find a comprehensive but biased chronicle of events. Noticeably missing from the book is any mention of the conflict between French and California wines that took place in the late 70s and early 80s, when California wines won over famous French labels in a number of tastings, including the famous Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 and the Ottawa Wine Tasting of 1981. Although Château Margaux did not participate in the former, its famed 1970 vintage came in next to last in Ottawa. But such editorial omissions are easy to overlook, especially considering the history of Margaux's well-respected wines. If anything, use the book to expand your Bordeaux collection—for starters, we recommend searching out the 1990, 2000 and 2003 vintages.

(Published: 02/23/06)

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