A great read: ‘The Man Who Made Wine’

Your mission, should you decided to accept it (and you absolutely should):

Set aside a couple of hours on a lazy, hazy afternoon (or any other kind). Turn off all electronic devices, except perhaps for a stereo playing chamber music. Pour a sizable serving of Bordeaux (or whatever), and settle into an easy chair with J.M. Scott’s “The Man Who Made Wine.”

ScottThis book is the very definition of a reverie, evolving from engaging to engrossing, and deserves a suitable environment in which it can be savored like … you know.

Basically, the novella encompasses one night’s ruminations of Michel Rachelet, covering his 53 years as vigneron at Chateau La Tour-St-Vincent. Just like the vintages of wines, his path has its ups and downs, but the writing is infused with a warmth and passion that quickly have us caring deeply for M. Rachelet.

Indeed, this character is an embodiment of the kinds of wines the best Bordelais vintners produce, with that ineffable combination of intensity and elegance. When Rachelet says he “would not have changed places with an emperor,” we believe him.

Happily, Scott does not fall into the trap of going wine-geeky or oversentimentalizing Rochelet’s reflections.

In fact, with wonderfully detailed descriptions of what transpires in the vineyard and cellar, this would make a dandy primer on winery work for the budding enthusiast. Meanwhile, those who love wine in general and Bordeaux in particular are highly unlikely to find a better afternoon’s or evening’s companion.

(The book appears to be out of print but can be found at public libraries. And I bought a copy at a very reasonable price at the wonderful website biblio.com.)

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