The best of the crop of recent French vineyard books, perhaps because the most modest--or because it gets its hands dirty. Tom the writer and Sara the photographer, after four years together in New York and Paris, head for the countryside to find a spot in the Bordeaux region to set up a home in which to write and work and accept assignments. Maybe for a year? At Ruch, a speck of a village, they lease a big boxy addition to the church. But Ruch keeps them more than a year. Tom longs to taste the soil in the wine, as in centuries ago before modern winemaking methods came between the wine and the palate--though Ruch happens to produce bulk wines, nothing fancy. He digs right into winemaking, harvests grapes with the locals, studies the pressing and fermentation of grapes, and takes as much interest in all this--along with the effects of the weather--as the villagers. Much time also is spent gossiping with and visiting villagers. One wonders: What is all this idle talk about food that preoccupies everyone--but the taste of food and wine does preoccupy the villagers, so into the book it goes. Also, it helps us feel the fermenting of Tom and Sara, as do the deaths of various villagers, whose passing puts a burn on Sara's heart for wedding bells. Will the two marry? The title page already tells us, so how does it come about? The amusing climax comes when Tom finds a winemaker who does the whole process entirely by hand and he asks to taste the soil in this wonderful old man's vintage--and gets a taste of France he never expected. Sara's knockout photos bring everything to life as Tom's awareness of days gurgling down the drain adds poignancy to each passing page.