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January is the 6th installment of the virtual Wine Book Club.  The topic of this month’s Wine Book Club is ‘Notes on a Cellar-Book‘ by George Saintsbury, edited by Thomas Pinney, published by University of California Press, $29.95.  Saintsbury (1845 – 1933) was a journalist, editor, Professor of Literature, and opinionated wine afficianado.

I first have to say that Saintsbury’s resemblance to Dumbledore is uncanny.  I’m convinced that JK Rowling fashioned Dumbledore after Saintsbury. 

George Saintsbury?... Dumbledore?... Saintsbury?... Dumbledore?

George Saintsbury?... Dumbledore?... Saintsbury?... Dumbledore?

This was a tough read, had a lot of difficulty staying engaged – perhaps because I’m afflicted with SASD (Short Attention Span Disorder).  If I were to describe the book in one word it would be disjointed.  Reminds me of a North Carolina wine I had at the Charlotte airport when first reading this book – some interesting aspects, but disjointed and choppy.

The inside front flap of the book jacket provides the following description, “A collection of tasting notes, menus and robust opinions…”.  Definitely a number of “robust opinions and menus,” but I seemed to miss the “tasting notes.”  Throughout ‘Notes’ Saintsbury referenced wines from back in his day, ’52, ’62, ’64, ’71 (that’s 1852, 1862, 1864,…) and I found myself wanting to know how these wines tasted.   I would have really appreciated Saintsbury’s detailed insights in to the sensory pleasures and tastes of the wines he enjoyed.  

Despite the fact that I wasn’t able to stay fully engaged in this book and jumped around from section to section, much like Saintsbury’s writings – I did like ‘Notes.’  I apprecite the history and context Saintsbury provided.  I plan on keeping this book in my nightstand along side ‘Jefferson on Wine’ for occasional night reading and reference.  Every couple of months, I feel compelled to connect with the origins of wine in America so I open up ‘Jefferson on Wine‘ and end up reading it several nights in a row, and then don’t touch it again for months.  ‘Notes on a Cellar-Book‘ will assume a similar place on my late night reference and reading list when I want to reflect on an earlier, simpler time of wine.

Want to learn about wine?  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book as a general learning tool.  Want to read the ruminations of a cerebral dude that drank a lot of First Growths back in the day sprinkled with interesting historical insights?  Get this book – it will make an excellent reference book and addition to your collection.

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