Jan 17, 2009

Armchair Vintner

Oh...my...goodness. A book after my own heart!

Vineyard in Tuscany, by Ferenc Mate

Hungarian-Canadian author and sailor Máté (The Hills of Tuscany) recounts in wry, candid detail how he rebuilt a Tuscan ruin into a world-class winery. Living in Tuscany with his artist wife and son while savoring the landscape, food and pleasant neighbors wasn't enough for Máté, who admits he thrives on adversity. He wanted his own castle and finagles the purchase of a 13th-century friary in Montalcino, with a proper forno (oven), a forest crammed with porcini and 60 acres of land—15 of which he fashions over three hard years of work into a vineyard sprouting robust harvests of Sangiovese, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and Syrah grapes. His diary of sorts regales the reader on the process of restoring the ancient ruin, called La Colombaio: first by detailing how an Etruscan house was constructed, then by observing how the various workmen were hired (and what they ate for lunch). While hacking in the forest, he finds the remains of a 3,000-year-old city, inviting the interest of archeologists. Máté breaks from the construction and excavation for treks through the Dolomites before returning to prepare for the toilsome but ultimately satisfying vendemmia (harvest). - Publishers Weekly
This must be Tuscany's answer to Mayle's A Year In Provence.

Did I mention I've dreamt of owning a vineyard, complete with a resplendent villa and a large patio overlooking the hills of vines? (Yes yes, haven't we all?) At first I wanted to have one in France, but after a horrible vacation in Nice dealing with the "service" there, I was left wondering how on earth I could deal with the inevitable problems that would crop up in a renovation. In French. Do not underestimate the horrors of cross-cultural mishaps.

Luckily, I have a close friend who adores Italy and wants to spend his life there. Part Italian, he seems not to mind what I consider to be the even greater challenge of working and renovating in Italy. Va bene, we have our fearless vintner/partner. One day, we will go looking for a villa to call our own, with acres and acres of sangiovese and cabernet.

In the meantime, this book will have to do. Now, all I have to do is endure the two weeks it will take for these books to arrive...

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