Saucy guide to and social history of a wine-making village in France, first published in France in 1988 and then in Britain in 1992. Loftus is a wine merchant, hotelier, restaurateur, and writer of wine catalogs as well of as other books published overseas. Millionaires from around the world, Loftus tells us, vie for tiny allocations of the fabulous, hideously expensive white burgundies of Puligny-Montrachet—wines whose scent is ``a mixture of fresh straw and ripe peaches, an earthy intensity underlying the elegance, suggestions of woodsmoke, of honey and of freshly sawn oak.'' The small, stony vineyards that produce the rival burgundies of the area were first cultivated by monks many centuries ago. The characters of these wines, Loftus says, stem as much from the complexities in temperament of the owners as from variations in the pungency of the soil. The author, a passionate taster, finds infinite gradations in the ever-shifting flavors in vintages (``Ramonet...reminded me of rich quince and apple pie, complete with cloves''). A late burst of sunshine before harvesting, he says, can lend a wine serious promise. Judging by Loftus, rivalry between the local vineyards of small, sleepy Puligny and even smaller nearby Chassagne runs deep, with a peculiarly French animus, though much of Puligny's produce is owned and managed by outsiders while Chassagne is still owned by locals. A year in Burgundy with Loftus, when set beside a year in Provence with Peter Mayle, is like comparing a splendid, quite noble vintage to dreary table wine—Mayle lacks acidity, richness of character, and fruitiness. We enter many cellars here—though the cellars in Puligny are above ground because of the very high water table—meet the village folk, and follow the year's rhythms and yields, with sharply etched portraits of landowners and townspeople alike. Lofty but fun, with 34 very fine, personal photographs taken by the author.

Pub Date: May 3, 1993

ISBN: 0-679-41814-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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