James Halliday's Wine Encyclopedia

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This is a distillation of the knowledge I have accumulated over the past 40 or so years. That said, the memory of a 70-year-old male is much less reliable than that of a 30-year-old, or any age in between. So I have had recourse not only to books, papers and articles written by others with far greater expertise than mine on given subjects, but also to books I have written over the decades.

This, I suppose, is a form of living history, and I have variously been surprised, confused and delighted by what I have found. I am acutely aware of the fact that merely having written something (say) 30 years ago about a then recent event, or a recently researched event, does not in any way guarantee its truth. Moreover, the truth or relevance may have been undermined by the intervening period. 

These ruminations reflect the underlying purpose of this content.I have tried to write it in an easily accessible fashion, rather than in the precise, didactic and compressed language more commonly found in encyclopedias. Even the spelling of the word ‘encyclopedia’ gives an early warning sign of my approach.

So I have included generous helpings of background history, and might rightly be charged with self-indulgence on this score. When writing about Australia’s wine regions, I have endeavoured to convey
a sense of the physical presence, the beauty, which many of those regions have. I have been slightly more circumspect when writing about the people, past and present, who have contributed so much to the Australian wine industry.

Space constraints I had in the book mean that the profiles of important wineries established over the past 40 years tend to be short and to the point, but where the wineries have a history stretching back two centuries, I have dwelt on it. The transition from this type of content to the scientific is bridged by explanations of tasting terms and information on all the grape varieties being commercially grown in Australia as at 2009. (This will become ever more incomplete with each passing vintage.)

Once I move into wine science, I have tried to be more disciplined, but also to explain the particular subject using as much lay language as possible. I must emphasise that I have no first-hand scientific knowledge – I have no tertiary qualifications in any aspect of wine science – and can only hope that I have accurately summarised what I have gleaned over the years from qualified winemakers, conferences, scientific papers and, most importantly of all, from the academic staff of the Australian Wine Research Institute. 

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