'Why the French Hate Us' by Cambell Mattinson
Hardie Grant Books, Melbourne, 2007
I want to discuss more books so I'll start with a ripper. I'd been wanting to read this for ages and was rather excited when I discovered a copy at Page One. Cambell Mattinson is an Australian writer and critic who amongst other things publishers an excellent website, The WineFront.
Mattinson's title is provocative, but it's also tongue in cheek crack; he's not really having a go at the French, but rather is referring to the strength of Australian wine exports. Understanding this title is the key to understanding Why The French Hate Us, which is simply a celebration of Australian wine. It's written with obvious skill, passion and love and Mattinson successfully conveys his ideas through humour and personal antidotes. The text is fluid and fun, and the book is structured around a series of casually related ideas. The first part contains seven chapters that address topics such as Australia's "cult wines", the importance of Grange and our relationship to the New Zealand wine industry. It's something of a mix of history, opinion and speculation. The second section deals with individual wineries. Mattinson critiques a diverse range of producers in his quest to prove that Australia offers world class fine wine along side the cheap and cheerful commodity wine we do so well.
Critics could claim that the book lacks fact and structure, but Mattinson's approach is personal; more akin to friendly chat than a report. For a book on wine it's entertaining and I often laughed out loud. Why the French Hate Us comes highly recommend; it's a passionate book about a worthy topic and I'm all for celebrating the potential of Australian fine wine.