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

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

by Rudolph Chelminski
     
 

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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 arrivé” and in a few short weeks, over seven million bottles are sold and drunk. Although often scorned by

Overview

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 arrivé” and in a few short weeks, over seven million bottles are sold and drunk. Although often scorned by the wine world’s snob set, the annual delivery of each year’s 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 smallholder 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 bike’s 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 man’s 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 winemaking.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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 Mâcon, 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. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

When the Beaujolais nouveau arrives in wine shops around the world on the third Thursday in November, it is cause for celebration. But until the middle of the 20th century, Beaujolais was a cheap, common red wine unknown outside the French region where it was produced. Here, Chelminski (The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine) details the captivating story of Beaujolais's ascent to wine fame and profiles the one person-winemaker Georges Duboeuf-most responsible for its hard-won success. 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.
—John Charles

Kirkus Reviews
This story of the man who brought Beaujolais to the world's tables carries distinctive flavors of French history, cuisine and terrain with accents of style and wit. To write of the Beaujolais and of French wine is to write of all France, its people, their history, their food, their work habits, says Chelminski (The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine, 2005). Viewing winemaker/wine merchant Georges Duboeuf from that panoramic perspective, Chelminski presents a volume that's as much food and travel guide as it is biography. The author begins by reaching back to the early 17th century when Philip the Bold, the Duke of Burgundy, banned the gamay grape lest it upstage the beloved wine of his region. Peasants to the south, in Macon, nurtured the unloved gamay, which took to its soil and eventually blossomed as the source of Beaujolais, the wine that brightens November. Its peasant origins set the wine on the second shelf until Duboeuf came onto the scene in the 1950s. Duboeuf took the wines his family and others made and, bypassing dealers, sold directly to restaurants. With boosts from palate-sated journalists and the arrival of nouvelle cuisine, which the fruity Beaujolais complemented, the wine took Paris-and soon the world. (A chapter on British buyers racing to be the first home with the Beaujolais could make a very funny film.) By Chelminki's richly detailed account, Duboeuf's is an uncomplicated life of hard work rewarded by success. Had Chelminski, who has known Duboeuf for 30 years, considered the latter's occasional setbacks (e.g. a failed attempt in the '80s to expand operations to California's Napa Valley), it would have added a note of tension to balance the narrative. Asophisticated raconteur, Chelminski tells a story that would grace a leisurely lunch at a French countryside inn. $150,000 ad/promo

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781440619748
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/18/2007
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
409 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

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Meet 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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