Ox. Comp.

To London for the launch of the fourth edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine at the wonderful Vinoteca near St Pancras Station. I contribute the entries covering Port and Madeira having relinquished coverage of Portugal ten years ago when I started producing wine myself. It was a gathering of editors and contributors from near and far and we all found ourselves sharing our experiences, many of us having been in on the project from the start in 1994. I just managed to include the new Madeira wine law, which was published on 13th January this year, causing a minor headache for the editors so I can guarantee that the new edition is up-to-date. The book adds up to nearly a million words and one of the most revealing sections is the list of 300 new entries. There are one or two new Portuguese entries: Marufo, Monção and Melgaço, Rabigato and Tejo.

But more revealing I think are some of the English expressions that have entered the lexicon: additives, barel alternatives, blogs (wine),  cellar rat, counterfeit wine, funds (wine), grubbing up, minerality, natural wine, Syrah decline, vandalism, vine architecture to name just a few. I brought a copy to Portugal this week (almost certainly the first in the country) and I am looking forward to having the time to ‘surf’ through the book. I say ‘surf’ because in the Ox. Comp. looking up one entry always leads to looking up another. It is a fascinating book. (And if you ever have along wait for a train at Kings Cross or St Pancras Vinoteca is the place to go – but be careful as you might easily miss the next train!)

Scoring

19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)

17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)

15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)

13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)

10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)

8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)

Below 8 Faulty