At the beginning of Ann Mah’s second novel, The Lost Vintage, protagonist Kate Elliott has committed to an extended visit with extended family in Meursault, France, in the hopes of shoring up her knowledge of French wines in advance of her third—and final—sitting for the test ... Meanwhile, her erstwhile French paramour Jean-Luc has drops back into her life, and it’s unclear whether his presence will turn out to be boon or bane. ... Mah’s scholarship and knowledge of French history and viticulture figure significantly in the novel’s storyline, but The Lost Vintage never feels forced or heavy-handed, and her vivid prose unlocks the musty aromatics of a long-abandoned cellar full of secrets for even the least sophisticated of palates. Drink deep.
Mah, a food and travel writer, brings her love of food and knowledge of wine-making to bear in her second novel, a charismatic blend of mystery, romance, and post-WWII French history. Kate is studying for her third and final attempt at passing the famously difficult master of wine exam. She travels to Burgundy for a few weeks of study at the vineyard that has been in her family for generations but which she has long avoided ... Mah’s engaging story resonates on many levels and will appeal to readers who enjoy the family sagas of Kate Morton and Kristin Hannah.
Kate Elliott, a San Francisco sommelier and daughter of a French expatriate, is preparing for a notoriously difficult wine-tasting exam. If she passes (most don’t), she will be one of a tiny cadre of certified Masters of Wine worldwide. An extensive subplot, concerning a hidden wine cache and another sommelier’s duplicity, adds little, whereas the central question—what is up with the Charpins?—is sadly underdeveloped. The apparent estrangement not only between the Charpins and Philippe’s sister Céline, Kate’s mother, but between mother and daughter remains unexplored. Wine buffs will enjoy the detailed descriptions of viticulture and the sommelier’s art. Mah deserves credit at least for raising a still-taboo subject—the barbaric and unjust treatment of accused female collaborators after the Allied liberation of France ... An unusual but imperfectly realized blend of trivia and tragedy.