Snappily if not elegantly written, this well-informed chronicle captures the distinctive nature of winemaking in a country...




Oenophile journalist Mount debuts with a knowledgeable history of the upscale makeover of Argentine wines.

Although wine grapes have been planted in Argentina since the 16th century, the beverage produced for centuries was generally cheap, low-quality plonk that only the natives would drink. By the time bodegueros (wine-makers) like Nicolás Catena began trying to upgrade their product in the 1980s, they were also hampered by outdated equipment and methods and unhygienic conditions. Catena and his peers learned from upstart California vintners, who took on the French and won a paradigm-changing 1976 taste test, that it was possible to create high-quality wines outside France. But at first they worked with Chardonnay and Cabernet grapes, wanting to improve Argentina’s image with the type of wines everyone considered the best. The humble Malbec grape, almost extinct in its native France but doing well for centuries in Argentina’s warmer, sunnier climate, was disdained as coarse and heavy. Yet once Argentina’s bodegueros had modernized their facilities and methods to gain a foothold in the international market for fine wines, it was Malbec that gave put them over the top with “a world-class wine—wine that had a sense of place, of terroir.” In Mount’s savvy recounting, Malbec and the U.S. fine-wine market grew up together; the wine’s fruity quality suited American consumers, who were also attracted by its high value-for-money ratio. But many of the American winemakers who rushed into Argentina in the ’90s, thinking they could duplicate the locals’ success, came to grief over their inability to deal with local business practices, most spectacularly California’s Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates. Mount skillfully interweaves multiple story lines and personalities, including foreign consultants like Frenchman Michel Rolland and American Paul Hobbs.

Snappily if not elegantly written, this well-informed chronicle captures the distinctive nature of winemaking in a country challenged by an unforgiving climate and political and economic instability.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-393-08019-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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