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Meet the sommelier: Jane Lopes of Attica

The Melbourne sommelier on her latest memoir, the perils of reading emails in the bath, and what to drink while reading Anthony Bourdain books.
Sommelier Jane Lopes.

Sommelier Jane Lopes.

What did you drink when you celebrated your book deal for Vignette?

I remember that day. I was in the bathtub and was checking my email on my phone (dangerous, I know) and I saw the email from Hardie Grant. I called out to my husband Jon and told him the good news and he came and tried to give me a hug in the bath (also dangerous). We already had plans to attend a riesling tasting that night – there was also a bit of Burgundy and Brunello, just lots of good wine floating around. It was perfect!

In Vignette, you write: green chartreuse is “intensely celebratory or consoling, reserved for only the best and worst of nights”. Did it come in handy when writing some of the tougher passages of the book?

Perhaps I should have qualified that green chartreuse is intensely celebratory or consoling… when you’re 23 years old. When you’re 33 years old, it is plain hazardous! I feel like you need a lot of adrenaline to cushion the impact of green chartreuse, which is a hormone less prominent in my life these days, thankfully.

The book takes place over many bars, homes and vineyards. Is there a bottle that vividly sums up a place for you?

Jon started making his own wine in 2018. He purchased a bit of Shiraz from the Bannockburn estate vineyard in Geelong, rented some space in their cellar, and just did it. To me, drinking that wine embodies the spirit of Australia and why it has been such an amazing place for the two of us. The accessibility of opportunity and community is something that makes Australia so special, and that’s what that wine is all about for me.

Even though you’re open to a wide range of drinks, you don’t consume coffee, green tea or tequila for health reasons. Is there something you really wish you could get into?

All of it! For me, the world of beverages is all about ritual. I don’t ever want to have to miss out on rituals: a visit to a Highlands tequila distillery, scooping the foam off a warm cappuccino, tasting the second steeping of a special oolong, or clanking celebratory beers. It’s not really about the booze or caffeine; it’s about being able to participate.

What’s a lesser-known wine that people should consider trying?

Really, anything! It takes much less marketing energy to get someone to try a Pinot Noir or a Chardonnay than it does to get them to try a Mondeuse or Moschofilero. The people who are making and distributing these wines do it because they really believe in it. Some of my favourite lesser known wines include Schiava from Alto Adige, Altesse from Savoie, Grenache from Granada, and Italian varieties grown in Victoria.

What are some food/travel memoirs you’d recommend and what should people drink as they’re reading them?

Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential is a classic. You probably shouldn’t eat anything while you read it, especially not in a restaurant.. A bourbon on the rocks should be safe.

On the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch is a beautiful book. You can follow along wine-wise, drinking the producers from his import portfolio (though this will be an expensive exercise). I’m excited to read my friend Victoria’s new memoir called Wine Girl. She’s previously written a book on rosé, so a glass of the pink stuff would be an appropriate accompaniment.

Vignette: Stories of Life and Wine in 100 Bottles by Jane Lopes (Hardie Grant, $40, hbk) is out now.

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