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North American Pinot Noir Hardcover – September 14, 2004

4.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pinot noir is the moodiest of grapes: at its best, it can be velvety and complex, a good pairing for both seafood and red meat; but its temper can change quickly, as the wine is fragile and unstable. As Haeger explains in this comprehensive guide to the wine, "pinot can show beautifully from barrel and then suffer an acute case of bottle shock. It can taste ethereal one day, but then close down to a shadow of its former self." No wonder, then, that it’s taken American producers so long to master pinot’s personality and develop wines that rival France’s burgundies. But they have. Though Haeger’s discussion of terroirs and his instructive essays ("The Rise of Pinot Noir in North America," "Winegrowing and Winemaking," etc.) may appeal only to serious oenophiles, the good news he shares is for everyone: "the food-friendliest wine on earth" now has scores of excellent American producers. Heager profiles 72 of them in this volume, many of them smaller vineyards that casual wine drinkers may not yet have heard of. Thus Heager succeeds in giving wine lovers a deeper and broader appreciation of the grape than any top-ten, five-star list could deliver.
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Review

"An impressive work, scholarly and masterful. Haeger's book paints a thorough portrait of pinot noir in America today - what's happening, where, and with whom. Wine lovers will gain a broader understanding and appreciation of pinot noir wines; aficionados of pinot noir will find the book a bible to feed their passion." - Mary Ewing-Mulligan, MW, coauthor of Wine for Dummies and President of the International Wine Center; "Haeger combines the skills of a reporter with those of a poet in this definitive study of one of the world's great wine grapes as it is grown and vinified in North America - combining solid research and illuminating interviews with vivid descriptions of that most important thing: what the wine actually tastes and smells like." - Colman Andrews, Editor in Chief, Saveur; "John Haeger has written an engaging, thought-provoking book that every pinot noir lover will find fascinating." - Karen MacNell, author of The Wine Bible "Finally, a book to demystify pinot and explain how American craftsman winemakers turn out wines made from Burgundy's legendary grape. Pinot noir pairs exceptionally well with a wide variety of foods, making it one of my personal favorites - and the ideal choice when dining out." - Bradley Ogden, author, chef, and co-owner, Lark Creek Restaurant Group"
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 455 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (September 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520241142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520241145
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a part-time wine instructor and wine enthusiast, I'm always looking for good resources to share as well as for my own use. This book is simply outstanding: the writing is clear, there is more information than you could ever possibly use, but you don't feel like you're drowning in irrelevant junk. Bravo!
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Format: Hardcover
This book gives a very good description of pinot in the USA. It cuts through all the stereotypes assoiciated with growing and making pinot noir, and gives warm-climate growers a second look.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are interested in Pinor Noir and want to know more about its history, winemaking practices, or benchmark producers in North America, you need this book. Period. However, note that it is decidedly *not* a wine guide. It is about the varietal and its history, with selected (and now out of date) coverage of wines and producers.

The book starts with history of PN production in the US and covers winemaking practices in moderate depth. It then profiles a few dozen of the most important producers, describing their history, vineyards, winemaking protocols, and some tasting notes. This is extremely helpful for three audiences: (1) those interested in PN history; (2) those who want to learn about PN winemaking practices; (3) those who want to find the benchmark producers and have an introduction to their style. For instance, I found a small producer I had never heard of, ordered some of their wine, and have become a big fan. But note that the number of producers is small and far from exhaustive -- they are chosen for importance and representiveness -- and the book was published in 2004, meaning that most of the specific wines discussed are from the 1990s and very early 2000s.

How does this book (NAPN) compare to Haeger's later book, "Pacific Pinot Noir" (PPN)? There are three primary differences. First, PPN presupposes that you either know or are uninterested in much of the history and detail available here in NAPN. If you want to substantial detail about the history, the founding producers and their practices, or the winemaking protocols, then this book (NAPN) is the better choice. Second, PPN focuses exclusively on the Pacific region, so the (few) producers elsewhere such as NY State are excluded (but some are included here in NAPN).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book for me is like porn. I am Sommelier. I have been for nearly 20 years and in that time I have tasted some of the best Pinot Noirs made. For the past 10 years I have honed my specialty on North American Pinot Noir; California and of course Oregon. I love this grape, always have and always will. The detail that Haege goes into is some of the best I have read on Pinot Noir. Despite the trend Pinot Noir hit a few years ago because of the book and film Sideways (which started a trend of low-end Pinot Noirs flooding the market) you can still fine vineyards that have been growing this very persnickety varietal for many years and this book does a great job of pointing them out. A nice book that will be added to my collection of top-notch wine books.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ever since the movie "Sideways," it's been easy to love pinot and to know why. Like the movie's characters, pinot noir (the grape) is unpredictable, occasionally brilliant, often bad and otherwise given to fits and starts of temperment and quirkiness. John Haeger's "North American Pinot Noir" is the backstory. From the grape's historic evolution (probably in Burgundy) to it's spread through North America's most marginal winelands, the pinot story on our continent is one of renegade artisinal winemakers living and dying with fickle vintages and improvised technology and, ultimately, winning the grudging respect of Burgundy's barons. This encyclopedic account starts with the plant, it's natural history (habits, pests, preferences and all) and progresses all the way through it's best products -- the wines themselves. The tasting notes are extensive and regrettably bounded in time, but they offer acclaim to some great vintages and some great vintners. As the book ages, the notes themselves will only serve to remind most of us of what we missed. But as a survey of pinot's great American terroirs and their beautiful fruits, the book confers rich knowlege and a deep sense of why this grape matters. The book is the University of Pinot Noir. For graduate school, find a place that you like -- Dundee HIlls or Santa Maria Bench -- and proceed to the advanced seminars they offer.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Haeger did extensive research and gives an excellent history of the grape in NA. Winemaking information is good. Things change so rapidly in the wine world, however, that it's somewhat dated. Still, an excellent reference book and worth the money.
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