From 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.)
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In the highly snobbish wine universe, Beaujolais lacks the cachet of many of its brother wines from France's Burgundy region. Product of a single grape, gamay, this is a wine best enjoyed in its youth, so Beaujolais finds itself too often dismissed as common. Yet no other wine attracts the exuberant anticipatory attention that accompanies the release of a new vintage every November. In detailed and good-humored prose, Chelminski traces the history of Beaujolais from the phylloxera devastation of French vineyards in the late nineteenth century through the food revolution inaugurated in part by neighboring Lyon's restaurateur Paul Bocuse a century later. Crediting Beaujolais' success to an enterprising French winemaker, Georges Duboeuf, 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. Knoblauch, Mark