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A fabulous thing - mysterious, sensuous, transcendental, the greatest wine in the Dukedom of Burgundy..." So begins Richard Olney's marvelous book on Romanee-Conti, arguably the most highly regarded wine of all, a legend issued from a sliver of land barely thirty miles long. The strange and partly apocryphal history of the area stretches over 11 centuries; the larger than life characters who played it out and the very nature of the wine reads here like a historical novel set in a fabled time.
Chapter by chapter, Olney explains the circumstances that make the wine great - the land, the micro climate, the grapes themselves.
A particularly brilliant chapter is given over to a discussion of the wine at the table, with food. Menus are discussed, including one mounted at the Cafe Voisin on Christmas day in 1870, during the siege of Paris when the zoos were raided for food. The most practical aspect of this book must be the chapter Vintages, in which the notes of the world's leading wine critics - Michael Broadbent, Robert Parker and Serena Sutcliffe among others - are given for bottles going back to the early years of this century.