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.
“Very engaging . . . a funny and suspenseful and above all, for me, evocative story about a valley much like Napa and its wine-making, wine-drinking people.”
—Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize--winning author
“A wonderful, fast-paced, and entertaining lens on the fiercely competitive world of wine and the many noses at play. From a writer well known for his knowledge of this world, this is a real page-turner.”—Susan Richards Shreve, author of You Are the Love of My Life
“More than the five senses are stirred by wine. Lust, avarice, ego, wit, intrigue, memory, and dreams all await uncorking on each page of this sleek, passion-filled, powerfully informed novel.”---Thomas Caplan, author of The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen
“Nose is the novel for all seasons—a terrific mystery, a love story, an under-all-the-soil good-and-evil saga.... Conaway’s prose is as gorgeous as some of the Northern California scenes he describes.” ---Jim Lehrer, PBS NewsHour and author of Super
“A spirited romp through the rarefied world of oenophilia by a smart, funny writer who knows the milieu well. Conaway expertly decants one of the world’s most obsessive subcultures, giving us a bold, fruit-forward novel with distinct notes of hilarity.”—Hampton Sides, author of Americana and Hellhound on His Trail
“James Conaway’s Nose is a delicious, swashbuckling winery romance—best in its class since Miranda’s Vines.” ---Madison Smartt Bell, National Book Award finalist for All Souls’ Rising
“The cheerful complexity of Conaway’s novel rivals the richest, most nose-worthy, palate-pleasing Cabernet.” ---Kirkus Reviews