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.