In a gorgeous wine valley in northern California, the economic downturn has put a number of dreams on hold. But not so for wine critic Clyde Craven-Jones, a man whose ego nearly surpasses his substantial girth. During a routine tasting in advance of his eponymous publication's new issue, he blindly samples a selection of Cabernets. To his confounded delight, he discovers one bottle 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, no one seems to know how it appeared on his doorstep?and that's a problem for a critic who's supposed to know everything. An investigation into the mystery Cabernet commences, led by the Clyde'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 theater 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. James Conaway's Nose is a witty, delectable, and fast-paced novel that, like a good Cabernet, only grows truly enjoyable once opened.