Neal Martin’s Most Intimate Guide to Pomerol

PomerolNeal Martin is wonderfully engaging writer who some of you may know from his work at Wine-Journal or afterwards at eRobertParker, where he was invited to contribute. His latest contribution to the wine literary field is his self-published “Pomerol”, a beautiful, large, personal story of discovery that deserves a slow, lollygagging read.

One the surface, “Pomerol” is a simple chronicle of the history of the small Bordeaux appellation and its better known châteaux. In this respect, it works just fine. If you are looking for a chronicle of what the better known Pomerol estates do, how they do it, and who does it at the estates, you’ll find the book very instructive and deserving of a place on your book shelf.

But quite quickly, you realize that Martin is trying to do something different than simply write the who, what, where and when of Pomerol. In fact, what we have here is something of a chronicle of Martin’s road trip through Pomerol in which he is behind the wheel and you are his companion in the passenger seat. The read feels like a long, happy, comfortable conversation between driver and passenger.

Along the way we meet various Pomerol personalities. These personalities behind the Pomerol wine trade and the châteaux he introduces us to seem to open up to Martin about much more than simply vine spacing philosophy, fermentation temperatures and evaluations of their recent vintages. They seem every bit as willing to summon personal back stories as they are personal vintage notes. It’s a tribute to the honest curiosity and sincere delight in his subject that Martin possesses.

The first part of Pomerol provides the reader with a lay of the viticultural and winemaking land in Pomerol from its history to the current methods by which the Pomerol winemaker tends to make wine. It’s an excellent grounding and straightforward education that touches all the bases without lingering too long on the details. It’s also nice of Martin that he assumes a certain amount of wine education and knowledge on the part of his reader.

From here Martin dives into the bulk of the content: Multi-page profiles of his top 50 or so châteaux. Each is an engaging chapter on its own that upon finishing, the reader has a sense of intimacy with the estate that goes beyond simply understanding how many hectare are under vine. We understand, instead, the meaning of the estate. And in many cases, we finish reading a profile of an individual châteaux with a better and more intimate familiarity with Martin himself. He’s a revealing wine writer, something you don’t come across every day in this genre.NealMartin

The last part of the book, entitled “The Entire Case”,  provides Martin with a chance to provide brief profiles of the remaining Pomerol cast of estates, both alive and dead. That’s right, even brief descriptions of crus that have come and gone make an appearance in “Pomerol”.

I had never investigated the Pomerol appellation too closely. I was familiar with its big names, its location and not much else. Today, I actually feel a certain intimacy with the region, due entirely to Neal Martin’s wonderful new book that instructs, guides, respects and enthusiastically drives the readers into and around the nooks and crannies of Pomerol.

As I mentioned this is self-published book—all 600 pages of it. The book is shipped directly from Martin’s kitchen table for the price of 50 British Pounds Sterling, which today translates into about $80. I’m told the FedEx shipping charges from Martin’s kitchen table to the U.S. is pretty reasonable. Martin could have easily sold this book via Amazon or any other literature distribution service. He has chosen instead to take the personal route. More power to him.

“Pomerol” can be purchased directly at

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3 Responses

  1. Le Vin Perdu - January 30, 2013

    Sounds like a really interesting read, but my gosh: 600 pages? Oh well, it’s still only half of JR’s ‘Wine Grapes’. Keen wine readers need time and patience these days, that much is clear.

  2. NEWS FETCH – JANUARY 30, 2013 | Wine Industry Insight - January 30, 2013

    […] Neal Martin’s Most Intimate Guide to Pomerol […]

  3. doug wilder - January 30, 2013

    Being familiar with the costs of self publishing, it is notable he can offer a book of such high caliber with obviously a lot of research, photography and writing and still make a profit. Well done, Neal!

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