‘Wine is alive, ageing and changing, but it’s also a triumph over death. These grapes should rot. Instead they ferment. What better magic potion could there be, to convey us to the past?’
Impelled by a dual thirst, for wine and for knowledge, Nina Caplan follows the vine into the past, wandering from Champagne’s ancient chalk to the mountains of Campania, via the crumbling Roman ruins that flank the river Rhône and the remote slopes of Priorat in Catalonia. She meets people whose character, stubbornness and sometimes, borderline craziness makes their wine great: an intrepid Englishman planting on rabbit-infested Downs, a glamorous eagle-chasing Spaniard and an Italian lawyer obsessed with reviving Falernian, legendary wine of the Romans. In the course of her travels, she drinks a lot and learns a lot: about dead conquerors and living wines, forgotten zealots and – in vino veritas, as Pliny said – about herself.
In this lyrical and charming book, Nina Caplan drinks in order to remember and travels in order to understand the meaning of home. This is narrative travel writing at its best.