In a gorgeous wine valley in northern California, the economic downturn has put a number of dreams on hold. But above it all is esteemed critic Clyde Craven-Jones, a man whose ego nearly surpasses his substantial girth. As the novel opens he blind taste-tests a sampling of Cabernets and to his confounded delight discovers one worthy of his highest score (a 20, on the Craven-Jones-on-wine scale), an accolade he's never before awarded. But the bottle has no origin - and that's a problem for a renowned critic. An investigation into the mystery Cabernet commences, lead by the critic's wife, Claire, and a couple of underdogs - one a determined throw-back to ancient viticulture, the other a wine-stained, Pygmalion-esque scribbler - who by wit and luck rise on incoming tides of money, notoriety and, yes, love. The stage is set for this true theatre of the varietals - where the reader joins the local vinous glitterati and subterranean enthusiasts hanging out in a seedy bar called the Glass Act. Soon Clyde Craven-Jones finds himself in a compromised position in a fermentation tank, a prominent family finds its internal squabble a public scandal, and a lowly vintner seeks redemption for a decades-old wrongdoing.This is a witty, delectable, and fast-paced novel that, like a good Cabernet, only grows more enjoyable once opened.
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