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I'll Drink to That: Beaujolais and the French Peasant Who Made It the World's Most Popular Wineby Rudolph Chelminski
Synopses & Reviews
The remarkable saga of the wine and people of Beaujolais and Georges Duboeuf, the peasant lad who brought both world recognition.
Every third week of November, wine shops around the world announce Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arriv and in a few short weeks, over seven million bottles are sold and drunk. Although often scorned by the wine worlds snob set, the annual delivery of each years new Beaujolais wine brings a welcome ray of sunshine to a morose November from New York to Tokyo. The surprising Cinderella tale behind the success of Beaujolais Nouveau captures not just the story of a wine but also the history of a fascinating region. At the heart of this fairy tale is the peasant wine grower named Georges Duboeuf, whose rise as the undisputed king of Beaujolais reads like a combination of suspenseful biography and luscious armchair travel.
I'll Drink to That transports us to the unique corner of France where medieval history still echoes and where the small-holder peasants who made Beaujolais wines on their farms battled against the contempt of the entrenched Burgundy and Bordeaux establishment. With two bottles of wine in his bikes saddlebag, young Duboeuf set out to revolutionize the stodgy wine business, becoming the richest and most famous individual wine dealer in France. But this is more than one mans success story. As The Perfectionist used Bernard Loiseau to tell the layered history of French haute cuisine, here Chelminski uses Duboeuf's story to paint the portrait of the often endearing, sometimes maddening but always interesting inhabitants of a little-known corner of France, offering at the same time a witty, panoramic view of the history of French wine-making.
"'Francophile Chelminski (The Perfectionist) offers up a feisty defense of Georges Duboeuf, who singlehandedly put Beaujolais, the grape and the region, on the culinary map. Unlike the better established regions of Burgundy and Bordeaux, the small grape growers of Beaujolais — a ribbon of land between Lyon and Mcon, its capital Beaujeu — held to the growing of the inferior gamay, which flourished in the region despite the attempts by the Romans to eradicate it. Surviving phylloxera and grafting from plants of American roots, the humble Beaujolais became a favorite wine of Lyon largely because of the excellence of its primeur, or new wine, which was available by St. Martin's Day, November 11. In Chelminski's circuitous path, enter young Duboeuf, on his family winery at Chaintre, who 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, and history was made: Duboeuf Wines is the #1 exporter of French wines to the U.S. Chelminski offers a stylish history of French wine-making, and an unblushing tribute to Duboeuf's achievements.' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Chelminski's narrative uncovers how Duboeuf's public-relations coup in promoting the release of the new vintage has paradoxically cheapened Beaujolais in the minds of some oenophiles. Wine-book collections will find this volume fills a notable gap." Booklist
"By expertly blending entertaining snippets of wine history, bits of agricultural science, and a generous soupçon of French culinary lore, Chelminski has created a deliciously amusing tale that is highly recommended for most public libraries." Library Journal
"A sophisticated raconteur, Chelminski tells a story that would grace a leisurely lunch at a French countryside inn." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Rudolph Chelminski is the author of The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine (Gotham Books, 2005). His articles have appeared in numerous national magazines, ranging from People and Time to The Atlantic Monthly. He holds a degree from Harvard and has studied at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques. Raised in Connecticut, he began living in Europe more than thirty years ago, when LIFE magazine dispatched him to Paris.
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