Drink the Book
Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo 2014
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Elena Ferrante writes some pretty amazing books. Her Neapolitan Novels have taken the world (or at least my little corner of it) by storm, what with their dissection of female friendship, nascent feminism in the wake of fascism, shoe making, and growing up. So many people I know and trust read and loved the books, so I just had to pick them up.
Then I told my friends. Suddenly, we were a book club.
We got together over the weekend to discuss the first book, My Brilliant Friend. Naturally, this meant hunting down geographically appropriate treats. Full immersion, ya know?
Obviously we started with pastries. But, me being me, I wanted to drink like the locals. I wasn’t sure where to start, though. What do they drink in Naples? What’s the region even called? Will I actually be able to find any of their wines ?
I learned a lot in my research. Firstly, Naples is situated in the Campania region (and yes, there are a few bottles available locally). The name is apparently derived from a phrase meaning “happy land” but if you’ve ever heard anything about Naples, that seems hard to believe. This is where the entire city of Pompeii was wiped out by a still-active volcano; where wars were fought and poverty reigns. It’s where you’re warned to keep an eye on your wallet the second you get off the train. And, if Ferrante is to be believed, where violence lurks around every corner (even indoors). Oh, and it’s beautiful.
The area is also super interesting from a winemaking standpoint. They’ve got a long winemaking history and a fascinating terroir based on ocean influence and that terrifying volcanic soil, bringing with it minerality and the extra deliciousness and complexity that makes wine nerds go nuts. (Don’t believe me? Just Google “volcanic soil wine” for more gushing than, well, a volcano.)
Since my book club met on a Sunday afternoon, I went white with a Greco Di Tufo. Because nothing is particularly simple in Italian wine, the name refers to the grape (Greco Bianco, originating in Greece of course), the village (Tufo), and the soil (tuff, which is a type of rock composed of volcanic ash).
I’d never had one before so I was pretty excited to try it. And it was lovely. Different but familiar, tasty and refreshing. What surprised me was how deep the colour was – not, like, amber or anything but it had a presence. It was still light and bright, though, really dynamic and flavourful. The nose was a tiny bit muted but these bottles can be aged, so I imagine I opened it a bit young.
Either way, it was a great accompaniment to the book and its simmering tensions. It never weighed us down, just buoyed us along as we discussed the fraught lives of imagined teenaged girls from a world away. Much like Ferrante’s prose.
It’d also be pretty great with fish or anything fried. Just sayin’.
Nose: Tinned pineapple, lemon, minerals, and salt.
Palate: Mango, pineapple, lemon custard, herbs. It’s salty and soft, but with a lovely acidity that never invades, just keeps everything in balance. This is a wine that really comes alive in the mouth. Lots of flavour, which was surprising given the restrained nose. We kept the bottle out, so we got to enjoy it as it warmed up and the flavours just seemed to open up with it. Really tasty. I’d definitely buy it again. I might already have.