Things I'm a sucker for: A really good story of family drama; a cool, fizzy pet-nat on a warm day; and Virginia wine. This pairing celebrates all 3.
I devoured Commonwealth in a single weekend one winter, laid up in bed & wanting "a really good book," aka an engaging plot to lay with under the covers forever. It spans 5 decades in the lives of 2 families whose worlds collide & combust when the father of one, Bert Cousins, kisses the mother of the other, Beverly Keating, at her daughter's christening party. An affair begins, and the 4 parents and 6 kids become entwined forever, their stories flitting between California & Virginia until they become public when a famous author uses them for material. The kids summer in Virginia, and it was that I had in mind with this wine: Something refreshing and juicy to match (& cut) the state's sticky humidity. This was my first Ann Patchett book but not my last; she's as terrific as everyone says, her prose so enveloping. This is a novel you'll love forever.
Of course, a book named for Virginia deserves a Virginia wine—like this sunny, sweet-seeming petillant naturel from Early Mountain, a breakout star of VA wine; I love most of their bottles. 100% Malvasia Bianca is a rich, some might say thick-feeling grape that's low on acid & high on tropical fruit flavor. This tastes of lychee & is brightened by lime zest & a zap of fresh lemon, reminiscent of the scene early in Commonwealth when fresh garden California lemons are used at the fateful christening. It's perfect for those who like a fuller, fruitier white. (But still dry! There's no added sugar—many people mistake fruit flavor for sweetness.) Plus, the effervescence makes it great for summer...Or whenever. Pet-nat is a year-round affair.
I don't know anyone who doesn't love Patchett's writing or pet-nats. But what makes them a great pair is the subtle richness to this book & bottle, the sweetness of nostalgia & sun-ripened grapes that make you feel full of the good life.
Book: Commonwealth, Ann Patchett
Bottle: Early Mountain Pet-Nat 2018