André Jullien’s story is as unique as it is fascinating. Born in Burgundy (Chalon-sur-Saône), he left to Paris at the age of 30, to pursue a life in the wholesale wine trade, working as a négociant. He would learn a great deal working in the Paris wine trade starting in the late 18th Century, and writing this, his first book on the subject in 1816. This work would be quite ambitious in scope as he set out on an incredible journey in an attempt to detail wines from every known wine producing region in the world. No one before him had ever embarked on such an adventure.
He was successful in his travels, studies and notations. Adding to this inconceivable feat, André would also go on to invent numerous tools that would improve the enjoyment and production of wine. Two inventions are usually noted; a powder employed for the clarification of wine, and a tube system that would improve the way in which wine barrels were tapped which included a decanting feature. These inventions earned him numerous honors and awards, including French Academy of Sciences statistics prize in 1832recognition from Jean-Antoine Chaptal (who was given the title of comte Chaptal de Chanteloup), known for popularizing chaptalization. In 1824, he released a version of this work in English, providing a sense of depth of knowledge, history and insight for consumers and merchants alike. Mnsr. Jullien’s reputation spread after this release, which encouraged several english-speaking authors to follow in his footsteps.
The book is amazing. The condition is actually quite good, aside from the title page and last few pages. Each copy had a facsimile signature, and detailed which edition you held in your hands. While my collection generally focuses on original, first editions about Burgundy in specific, this book details wine regions in France (over half of the book is dedicated, which seems just about right…that is, if you are asking me), as well as pretty much any other wine region in existent at that point. I had never heard of most of these places producing wines of note, but it is indeed shocking, and impressive that someone in the early 19th century did this amount of traveling (whilst having a family to boot) learning, and writing. Of note, he mentions Californie (California) under the wine producing region of Nouvelle-Espagne (New Spain) since California wasn’t a part of the United States of America at this point. He continues to write that vines were first planted here in 1769. The principal wine growing areas were to the South and North of Monterey, along the coast.
I will go back and post more interesting bits from the book, but another interesting pieces includes his praise of red wines produced in Champagne. In the gallery below, you can see some of the chapters as well as a chapter dedicated to the general classification of the wines of France. This was put in writing before the 1855 classification of _ordeaux. Though, he speaks also about the four top growths in _ordeaux. In fact, this book be the first to approach a classification system of this type (generally five classes) for many regions of the world. Either way, this is a stunning read.
I have been searching for this particular book for quite some. My original list of books that I was looking for included:
Docteur Jean (Jules) Lavalle – Histoire et Statistique de la Vigne et de Grands Vins de la Cote-d’Or(1855)
Docteur Denis Morelot – La Vigne et le Vin en Côte-d’Or (1831)
Charles Danguy – Les Grands Vins De Bourgogne (1892)
André Jullien – Topographie de tous les vignobles connus (1816, premier édition) ou (1822, deuxième édition)
Louis Pasteur – Etudes Sur Le Vin (1866)
Thankfully, I’ve found good examples of each of these, two of which were signed/dedicated copies adding to the level of closeness that I feel when physically holding these extraordinary works.
Of course, an original of Topographie de tous les vignobles connus would be more exciting. The first and second French text editions are the hardest to find as they are both printed before his 1824 publishing date of the English text version. After finding only 2 examples over the years, one being a fourth edition, which was priced high enough that I decided to forget about it. It seemed that I would never find a copy that would be in good enough condition and priced within my meager means to allow me to move forward on buying a copy.
Just yesterday, I was looking at current events in Lyon. I noted that there was a book seller’s market every Saturday and Sunday. We were supposed to do some cleaning up around the house, but Christian (wife/enabler) was happy to make it a day trip and signed off on the idea.
Lyon was beautiful yesterday. The trees were full, green and moving gently with the cool breeze that made the warmth of the day seem almost perfect. Driving over one of the many bridges in town, we showed up to the book seller’s corner. Really. Four book sellers. Most of the books were for children, nothing too old at all. Just then, we happened upon an elderly couple. Speaking in French, he asked me what I was searching for. I replied that I was looking for older books on wine. His wife began to tell me about a book from the 1920s focused on Bordeaux. The husband cut her off, just at the moment where I was becoming disengaged, saying, “…well, you’re not listening. He said he was looking for a wine book. We don’t have what he wants.” The wife glanced at him, every married man knows this look and it goes beyond the typical borders of language. The man started to walk away, reaching into his pocket for a match to light the cigarette that he had in his hand throughout the exchange to place emphasis, of course. “He’s right, I said. I’d prefer a book about wine, do you have anything centered on the wines of Burgundy?” The man came back, with his hand extended towards me, but looking at his wife with a smirk, (um, I’ve no experience in doing this myself…). He shook my hand and said, “I believe that you can find what you are looking for in a well known book shop in the center of town.” He commented on my French, we shook hands again, his left hand patting my right shoulder and said he wished us luck. The sentiments of this type of handshake is difficult to articulate, but it really makes an impression on you.
Christian and Bella were up for more book hunting, so we hopped in the car and went over another bridge into the older section of town. We went into the bookshop that was recommended to us and didn’t see much when I asked about older books on Burgundy. I was about to leave, but Christian and Bella decided to have a look around the shop. The owner’s wife came in and he asked her if they had anything. He left the room while she thought about possibilities, but he came back empty handed. Finally, she remembered something. She motioned to a section of the book store with about one hundred twenty books, some maps, and lithographs that had just been brought in from a personal library that they had purchased last Thursday. It had just arrived the day before and under the book on the top was a copy, a Second Edition of Topographie de Tous les Vignobles Connus by André Jullien first written in 1816, with this revision coming in 1822.
This is the first book that I have bought with my family there, and I always tell Christian that I don’t pay too much for these books, it is all part of the luck. When she saw the price, she was shocked. I told the owner that I wanted to speak with him about the book. He knew very well that the book was very important and rare. In fact, he showed me a catalogue that the professionals use to research the books when I mentioned my collection. Very straightforward man, nice as well. I mentioned to him that I had been looking for the book for a very long time and that it meant a lot to me to be able to find it in the manner that I did. He nodded and said that he wanted to make a gift for me and reduced the price. I declined, he insisted and then his wife agreed that I should get the book at a lower price. We spoke for nearly fifteen more minutes about our winery, books, wine and Lyon and then we parted ways. It would be silly to sugarcoat things and say something along the lines of, “…and on that day, I not only found a book, but a friend.” I won’t go that far. But, this really is one of those situations that is surprising when it happens, but there is just a surreal level of generosity in the people that live here. I may happen to see him again and have the opportunity to even things up by showing generosity myself, I did invite him to visit. But, moments like these make it easier to honor that kindness in the way that I approach others.
Thanks for reading!