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I'll Drink to That: Beaujolais and the French Peasant Who Made It the World's Most Popular Wine Hardcover – October 18, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

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
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; First Edition edition (October 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592403204
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592403202
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,330,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Do you want to tell the difference between a wine lover and a wine snob? Hand them a glass of a cru Beaujolais and don't tell them what they're drinking until after they've had a few sips.
This book is for the wine lovers: it tells the story of one of the most charming and beautiful corners of the world, the land of the hills of Beaujolais. It tells of the grapes and the grape growers, the wine makers and the negociants, the nobility and the farmers. It is an honest look into the daily life of the peasants of France and the land that they worked, and worked so hard. We learn how little their lives changed over the centuries, even in the years after the second world war. Most importantly, this book tells the story of a driven, determined young man, Georges Duboeuf, who changed the way that wines were bought and sold and who brought the wines of Beaujolais to the world. More than anyone else, he brought wealth, modernity and respect to Beaujolais. This book will dispel many commonly held misconceptions about the wines of Beaujolais, and will give you a greater appreciation for the small miracle that you hold in your hand every time you take a drink of wine.
I will be giving copies of this book to several of my wine loving friends this Christmas, and I recommend it for your bookshelf.

Darrin Siegfried
Mâitre Compagnon
Les Compagnons du Beaujolais
I'll Drink to That: Beaujolais and the French Peasant Who Made It the World's Most Popular Wine
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Format: Hardcover
This review originally appeared on 205food.com.

The date was July 31, 1395. An edict from Philip the Bold was quite explicit. Gamay grape vines, which produced wine that was "most injurious to the human creature," were to be "extirpated, destroyed and reduced to nothing." The message was loud and clear in the heart of Burgundy, but the poor farmers of Beaujolais were apparently a bit hard of hearing. They continued to tend their Gamay vines, if only as a sideline of farming. Banished from Burgundy, the Gamay grape accidentally found its ideal home.

"I'll drink to That" tells the story of Beaujolais, from Philip's edict through the devastation of phylloxera, the rise of Georges Duboeuf, and the nouveau craze that made Beaujolais a wine whose name recognition is exceeded only by Champagne. Along the way, author Rudolph Chelminski offers plenty of interesting observations:

* Poor water supplies and wine's religious significance lead to the manta of "wine=health" which the French nourished well into the twentieth century. Only the shocking number of auto fatalities (18,000 in 1972) finally led to a reconsideration of this belief and the crackdown of the gendarmes on drunk driving. But with this crackdown came less casual Beaujolais drinking.

* Prior to the phylloxera plague, vineyards were worked by hand, the vines planted willy-nillly. Only the total replanting of the fields after the louse was conquered created the geometrical vineyards we know today, with long straight rows that could be plowed and sprayed with horses.

* The tradition of drinking Beaujolais nouveau began in Lyon in the 1700s.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a "must" book for wine lovers, the complete history of the Beaujolais region and the Gamay wine that made it famous. It is told in a wonderful stlye that blends the facts with funny and illustrative anecdotes. The author was there for the modern part and hobnobbed with all the central characters. I never understood that Georges Deboef was such a pivotal force, the Robert Mondavi of Beaujolais, until I read this book. It makes you want to go out and buy some of the wine (which I did) and remember the Beaujolais fads that swept America. Read it, you will laugh out loud and learn a great deal along the way.
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This was a wonderful read... especially if you are a lover of red wines. The journey though the Beaujolais area of France was educational and entertaining. There is so much to learn about the small villages of France and the art of wine-making. I loved it.
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This is a very well written book about the history of beaujolais wine country in France, the peasants who planted the gamay grapes and the man who made the wine famous throughout the world, Georges Dubouef. Highly recommend this book, and the Beaujolais wine.
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