What We’ve Been Reading

I’ll Drink to That: Beaujolais and the French Peasant Who Made It the World’s Most Popular Wine

A breezy read about how one young man through dint of determination and hard work, transformed the wines of Beaujolais from a relatively unknown regional wine to world-wide popularity. Young George Duboeuf, on his family winery at Chaintre decided by 1951 to circumvent the big dealers and set up his own wine-tasting cellar. Armed with two of his own bottles, he pedaled over to Paul Blanc’s famous restaurant Le Chapon Fin down the road. History was made. Duboeuf Wines is the #1 exporter of French wines to the U.S. Author Chelminski’s retelling of the events, the people and the wine-making world is well worth the read. Mr. Duboeuf passed away January 6, 2020.

Meanwhile… New Seasons Market here in Portland has on display not one, not two but three examples of Beaujolais Nouveau, including one from Mr. Deboeuf himself. From the 2019 vintage, this is perhaps the very last wine the man himself may have had a hand in. You’ll notice that the label sports the colorful floral design that George introduced so many years ago. I will get the posse together, we’ll open these and report back on what we find. Stay tuned!

 

Oddly enough, at the same time as I was reading I’ll Drink To That, I was also reading Life In A Medieval City, which I had pulled from my housemate’s copiously filled bookshelves. It addresses what life was like in Troyes and much of Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries. Like the book above, this volume often mentions Lyon and surrounding areas in modern France, and we were just there!

From the book. Getting the public to taste the wine, as we know, is still an important part of the business.

In addition, there is the wine crier, who is also an inspector. Each morning he goes into the first tavern he can find that has not yet accepted a crier for the day; the tavern keeper must accept him. He oversees the drawing of the wine, or draws it himself, and tastes. Then, furnished with a cup and a leather flagon stoppered with a bit of hemp, he goes out to cry the wine and offer samples of it to the public.

Cork Dork

Cork Dork is the story of the author’s journey from technology industry journalist to professional sommelier. Driven by an unstoppable desire to understand the mysterious and obsessive world of those who build their lives around wine, this work never fails to deliver. Not simply a story about personalities, the author chases world-wide research into sensory perception on the high end, and the vast marketplace of add-ins for doctoring your wine at the low end. In between the author retells all the humorous mistakes she made while learning how to properly deliver service. A very rewarding read, or if you’re me, an audio book narrated by the author.

Billionaires Vinegar: The Mystery of the Worlds Most Expensive Bottle of Wine

Would you throw down $156,000 for a single bottle of wine? What if it was a 1787 bottle of Château Lafite Bordeaux that you have good reason to believe belonged to Thomas Jefferson? This book tells the story of the strange world of extremely aged wines and the grey land between the real thing and a quiet underground of fakes. In the end – are they any good? Are they worth the money? Are they even real?
You decide.

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