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Featured Publication
for week ending 15th November 1998

The Heartbreak Grape

A journey in search of the Perfect Pinot Noir
By Marq de Villiers

This is a story of love, passion and romance - a story of one man's quest to make the perfect bottle of Pinot Noir. Beautifully written by South African born Marq de Villiers, in romantic passionate style - I quote from the opening paragraph .....

"Outside, the sun was slanting down over the golden California hills, warm and still on this October afternoon, but inside the great vaulted cellar of the Calera Wine Company the air was cool, damp, heady, vinous. Josh Jensen, the owner strategist and propagandist- in-chief of Calera, eased a silicone bung from one of the racked barrels and it came away with a soft, sighing hiss, a faint cabonic prickle adding itself to the damp-oak and washed-earth and crush-fruit smells of the winery. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply and the aroma went directly, as aromas do, to the vaults in the brain where nostalgic memories are stored ........"

Okay, his book has been around a long time - it was first published in 1991 - but since I first found it in a book shop in Sydney a few years ago, it has become my favourite wine book as it tells a good story as well as being educational. Marc de Villiers follows Califoranian Josh Jensen's search for the perfect Pinot Noir. We will never know if the vines came from the great vineyards of Domaine de Romanée-Conti - the proof will be in the taste.

Amongst the romance - lots of education. The geology, the 'terroir' that Pinot Noir likes best, the decisions, the techniques, the dilemmas, the heartbreak. But at the end of it all, the perfect bottle of Pinot Noir. Oh how I would love to try a bottle of this Calera wine.

Each chapter starts with a little poem - the final chapter is headed.

"In which the wines are priced,
distributors are found,
and the wines are taken out into the world
for their final date with the consumer".

Congratulations to de Villiers for making the technical issues of wine growing and wine making such a delight to read. Every time I try a Pinot Noir, I think of the 'Heartbreak Grape' and this book.

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