Louise's book, Her Italian Aristocrat, has just been released. I'm reading it right now, and it's making me long for an Italian holiday, Italian food and wine, and a bit of Italian tall-dark-and-handsome!
Louise is here to talk about her book and I thought it'd be appropriate if she touched on one of the regular topics here on the blog: her favourite wine.
Living in the Southern Hemisphere I tend to drink Australian and New Zealand wines. But in Her Italian Aristocrat, set in an historic hill town in the Marche region of Italy, I couldn’t have my heroine sipping a crisp Marlborough sauvignon blanc, excellent as they are. It needed to be a wine of the Marche and I chose verdicchio. It sounded like the sort of wine I like to drink: Crisp, dry and white.
I’m not averse to research, especially when it comes to wine, but I was in a hurry when writing a dinner scene and I hoped my hero and heroine would forgive me if my choice didn’t perfectly match the excellent vitello tonnato they were eating.
But later, in the spirit of retrospective research, I found myself wondering about Italian wines, verdicchio in particular. So it was off to my local Italian wine merchant to see what I could find.
I offer you Exhibit A: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi
Here’s something to like about Verdicchio: It’s only made in the Marche, from the ancient grape of the same name. There are two distinct types, their growing regions separated by a mere 50kms, and with one made within spitting distance of the stunning hill town of Macerata, the inspiration for the town of Montefigore in my book.
Now, I don’t know about you but when it comes to wine my receptors are, well, receptive. They happily engage without reference to terms like bouquet, length and finish. My palate is pre-programmed to ‘like’ and rarely bothers me with complaints. Clearly I am a lush and need help from the experts. Still, the writer in me wanted to express the qualities of verdicchio in my own words first before referring to a smarty-pants like wine guru, Jancis Robinson.
My notes describe it as “golden, with a slight dry sherry flavour, quite dry.” The professional tasting notes said it was “straw yellow, herbaceous, with a bitter almond after taste”.
Despite the difference in choice of descriptors the wine experts and I agreed on the basic characteristics. What hit me most was how different the flavour was compared to the antipodean wines I’ve been drinking. Of course that has a lot to do with the unique grape variety but the concept of terroir, the idea that the product is directly affected by the environment in which it is grown, was also brought home very soundly.
Maybe it was the mellow mood the wine engendered but I found myself thinking that, in a way, a book needs terroir. It should have the flavour of the location, with authentic details, characters who belong and appropriate dialogue. And although I hadn’t articulated it at the time of writing, I tried to give Her Italian Aristocrat terroir, to reflect the character of the beautiful hill towns of the Italian Marche.
Thanks, Emmie, for having me as your guest. I have a special bottle of verdicchio to share with you soon and I’m looking forward to your opinion.
Her Italian Aristocrat is available:
To International buyers from www.destinyromance.com
To Australian buyers from Amazon, Kobo, Apple, GooglePlus and Destiny Romance