From Italian aficionado Máté (Ghost Sea, 2006, etc.), a sun-drenched memoir about the author’s obsessive quest to own a winery.
The Hungarian-born, Canadian-raised Máté and his family—Candace, his artist-wife, and their young son—were happily ensconced in La Marinaia, a quaint house in the Montepulciano region of Italy, when Máté confessed his plan to try his hand at making wine. First, he needed a vineyard. After comical encounters with Italian landowners and an uncharacteristically efficient realtor, Máté settled on 15 enchanted acres in the Montalcino region, with a crumbling castlelike house, tangled vines, ancient ruins and fertile soil. Prone to winsome refrains, Máté’s prose works only in that it resembles an entertaining newspaper column. He was living the dream, the perfect—but attainable—life, and he’s relating it for the benefit of the armchair traveler, the wistful wine lover and the ambitious handyman. The best passages focus on the painstaking restoration of the crumbling house (the land had once housed a friary) and the crew of Italian stonemasons and suppliers who worked with him. Readers interested in a succinct lesson on Italian-building techniques—a subject which, in Máté’s hands, is oddly infectious—will be especially drawn to those details, and the lessons in viticulture are also interesting. His wife, who possesses a better “nose” than her husband, completed the ambitious, two-year sommelier course in preparation for their first batch of wine. Their son, nicknamed “Buster,” also pops up from time to time to provide comic relief. Rich with details of Tuscan life—the flora (wild roses, rosemary, wild porcini mushrooms), the food (a few delectable recipes and a guide to Máté estate wines) and the people—this is a light read with a fairy-tale ending.
A formulaic but romantic tale for readers who dream about a charming Under the Tuscan Sun lifestyle.