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Passion for Pinot: a journey through America's pinot noir country (May 4, 2009)

book review
by Dean Tudor, www.deantudor.com

Passion for Pinot: a journey through America's pinot noir country
(Ten Speed Press, 2009, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-58008-986-9, $30 US hard covers) is by Jordan Mackay, a Texas and California wine writer. The photography for this (largely) picture book is by Andrea Johnson and Robert Holmes. Both are experienced travel photographers.

"Pinot noir country" actually just refers to the American West Coast. There is nothing here on British Columbia, or on New York State. Nor is sparkling wine covered. The blurb says that this is a portrait of the most fashionable grape in the wine world, showcasing California and Oregon producers.

Pinot noir has been described as the perfect food wine, with occasional silkiness for sipping. But most pinot noirs on the US west coast don't even taste like a pinot noir should; they just don't have the Modal Varietal Characteristics (MVC) of what makes pinot great (i.e., classified Burgundy). Pinot noir comes from Burgundy, and it should taste Burgundian. There is nothing wrong with that.

Nevertheless, this is an engaging book, with profiles of top US pinot producers, terroirs, and bottles. The text promotes the different styles and approaches to the viticulture and viniculture of the pinot grape. The photography clearly shows most of the terroir through the many landscapes and seasons. Additional material is found in quotes and sidebars and maps. All the AVAs are described, and there are photos of the winemakers and owners. Typical estates covered include Calera, Abbott Claim Vineyard, Acacia, Domaine Drouhin, Donum, Tualatin, Quail Ridge, and many more.

Audience and level of use: travelers, pinot noir fanatics.
Some interesting or unusual facts: Statistics show that pinot noir sales have increased 120 percent in the last two years. This is due to the Sideways factor and to increased mass production of the lower-quality wines.
The downside to this book: There are very few actual tasting notes.
The upside to this book: Great photography.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.

 

 

 

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