First, you should know that I'm far from a wine expert. I'm working hard to get past the "I just know I like this one" stage, reaching towards the state of "somewhat knowledgeable." Books like this are helping me achieve that goal, however.
The Wines of Germany is essentially organized in two parts. The first five chapters give an overview of the unique issues of the German wine landscape, covering the wine law of Germany; vineyard classification; German wine styles; going to market; and the German grape varieties.
The rest of the book is devoted to wines from each region, covering both the obvious regions (such as Rheingau and Nahe) and the regions that other dismiss in a few paragraphs (such as Sachsen and Saale-Unstrut). In each of those chapters, he begins with an overview that discusses everything from the hectares devoted to winemaking ("The Rheingau has about 3,200 ha of vines, grown by 1,500 owners") to the geology to wine-growing history to the current market conditions. For each region, Brook discusses both individual vineyards and the producers. In other words, you can look up a wine by the village it comes from, and by a particular winery. (Some wineries, after all, have vines in more than one area.) Oh -- and there are excellent maps.
That sounds EVER so dry, but gosh -- it really isn't. What Brook does amazingly well is both explain what the issue is (such as the 1971 wine law), what it means to the winemakers and thus to the consumer, and how it'll affect the wines you buy (and their cost). Nor does he shy away from the politicial issues.I finally understand why the German wine labels are so confusing, for example, and why it took an entire chapter to make it understandable!
He's also immensely entertaining, and extremely opinionated, both about the wines and their producers, and the larger issues surrounding them. For example, he says, "Baden wines and Baden wine marketing are, in short, a bit of a mess. No one is particularly motivated to sort it out. Individualist growers simply go their own way and trust in the quality of their wines to secure a share of the market."
But what about the wine ratings? After all, that's probably why you're considering buying this book. He gives great, pages-long coverage to the most visible of the wineries, the ones most likely to be imported to the U.S. (such as Prum and Dr Loosen), but don't expect a bottle-by-bottle rating. For instance, he says of Dr Loosen, "...the Wehlener Sonnenuhr is invariably racy and zesty and delicate, as it should be, whereas the Urziger Wurzgarten is more spicy..." He does mention vintages, but usually in regard to the region rather than an individual producer. But if you want to compare his opinion to yours, for a bottle you just brought home from the store, you may be disappointed; several sites and wineries get only a paragraph or so. On the other hand, with a book this complete, at least you can be reasonably sure that your bottle, no matter how obscure, will be mentioned.
What you *won't* find here is any kind of travel guide for visiting wineries. If that's any part of your goal, you'll also want to pick up a copy of A Traveller's Wine Guide to Germany. (I suppose it's dated, now, but it's far better as a tool for exploring the wine regions.)
Overall, I've found this the best book on German wines around. Well worth the money.