While in Burgundy I have been constantly searching for ways to improve my French and understanding of the region. This search has led me to buying old books wherever I can find them including at Bricorant or garage sales.
I found two books recently that are quite interesting. The first is a book of all great wines (from France) written by Anthony Réal in 1887. This is an origianl copy simply titled ‘Les Grands Vins – Curiosités Historiques’.
He speaks about the many merits of the traditions and terroir of France, but also of the dedication of the vigneron, the winegrower/maker. He compares regions and speaks about some regions that get little press in our times. Some of the old drinking songs and songs which were sang in the vineyards get a bit of mention as well. Altogether, a great read for something light and fun.
The second book by Henri Drouot is also an original copy written in 1925 and is titled La Côte-D’Or under the series Collection Des Départments et Pays de France.
Now this is an amazing book. Not two weeks before finding this book in Nuits Saint Georges, I saw a reprint from the 60’s that was displayed in a book shop’s window that sold just before I decided to enquire about it. The book sold for a lofty sum. I bought my original for 10€.
This book is quite a piece as it not only goes into detail about winemaking traditions, modern (for the early 20th century) techniques, but also offers a mice collection of photos of the region, maps, geological details, statistics showing population trends in Dijon and Beaune, other exports made in the region, and a wealth of other historical hems such as other proposed names of the department.
This has got to be my favorite book by just a hair over the Clive Coates book I used to lug around when I first learned about wine. I still love my Coates book. This book just comes to life with the food, roads, sights, history and tradition that are so special and all too difficult to communicate to someone that has yet to visit the Côte d’Or.
I have yet to read all of the book of course. There is a lot of information to digest and it is in French afterall, I have a long way to go to becoming fluent. But books like these that capture interest are one of the best ways to connect the sounds you hear during the day to words and phrases on paper.
Another part of interest, the book notes a post fermentation maceration of three weeks with aging in barrel for four years on wines of quality and 18 months on ordinary wines withdour rackings in total. This is truly a great book.
Well, back to reading…