If you are seriously annoyed by this cold weather and intend to head down to the tropics to sip chilled wine, recuperate and read, I recommend Pinot Envy.
Pinot Envy (published by Bancroft Press, author Edward Finstein) made me laugh immediately, especially since Finstein is a friend and fellow member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada.
I’m not much for wine fiction, but I really enjoyed this book. It’s an easy read packed with mystery, suspense, blackmail, murder and interesting historical and grape growing facts about Pinot Noir.
The story takes place in California’s wine country and San Francisco and is written in first person from the perspective of the main character named Woody. (I thought this was funny since that’s a wine term we often use to describe an over-oaked Chardonnay for example) His full name is Woodrow Robins. Woody, as he refers to himself, is also a wine writer and author of an award wining publication called “Wine is a Four-Letter Word.”
Writing in first person and making the main character a wine writer with over a decade of experience is the mark of a fiction writer wanting to create a true reality and authenticity to the characters and story line. And Finstein has certainly achieved this with Pinot Envy. As a wine lover I loved scenes where the characters enjoyed rare vintages in properly shaped high-end wine glasses. In one scene where Woody meets the wealthy wine collector, an ’85 La tache Pinot Noir is poured. I could taste that Pinot in my mind as though I was in the room.
The story begins with a car chase, hard to achieve on paper to be imaginarily effective. It then immediately launches into a mystery based in French wine history. In the background of the story Napoleon is a lover of Pinot Noir from the priced Grand Cru Le Chambertin of Burgundy’s Cote-d’Or. When Napoleon married Josaphine in 1796 he had bottles from the 1784 vintage etched with his initials. All the bottles were consumed except for one – a double magnum.
Now enter present day with Woody, the sleuth hired to find this rare collectors item. Woody is ideal for the job, given that he already conducts investigatory work involving rare wine artifacts. This particular 1796 vintage was stolen from the vault of a wealthy collector named McCall at a party he hosted.
I think Finstein has a good grip on cliff hanging at the end of chapters and onion peeling skills in developing rounded characters. Woody is certainly a flawed human being with some emotional issues and quirks.
Pinot Envy is the perfect gift to include in a wine lover’s stocking stuffer.
As an avid Apple geek, I love that Pinto Envy is available on itunes, $9.99, which can be downloaded to your iphone, ipad, iPod and Mac.
Pinot Envy is also available through Amazon.com, $22.91. Edward Finstein is aka The Wine Doctor ( www.winedoctor.ca ).
Category: EVERYTHING FOOD AND WINE