Some wine books you can’t put down. They’re exciting novels that are edgy, a bit naughty at times, and sucking you in ~ every second ~ for “more.” High voltage…
Then there are other wine books that are slowly savored, in sound bites. Remember the days of getting ready for a book report? Yeah, that’s what it is. Part of blogging time requires reading and reporting on wine books. Book page is the resource.
FAST FORWARD ~ BEAUJOLAIS
Being asked, to go to Beaujolais on a media tour, this was just the beginning of a very intense, five-day sojourn into the world of Beaujolais. It was through the lens of a preeminent vintner, and world-renown expert in how one becomes and maintains success as a wine négociant… Monsieur Georges Duboeuf.
Let me tell you, it’s a fascinating read. Imagine tracing yourself back to the 15th Century? The family tree is complete, mind you; not skipping a beat, from one generation to the next…
Just imagine it… Then think forward to the now “you,” next your children, and then their children. How far back can you trace yourself? I can trace back to 1623. A great grandfather was sent over from England. After landing, he walked to Shawmut (today’s Boston), to teach the King James version of the Bible (which he didn’t do in Shawmut), while King James was ruling.
[PHOTO: This is a purchased, stock photo… Not Georges Duboeuf]
As a single mother for a while, I know Georges Duboeuf’s early years were a bit challenging, but I don’t think that he sees it that way. Georges’ father passed away when he was only two years old. Against some odds, his childhood was still like any other young boy’s, riding the dusty Beaujolais roads of the country. For him, they were exciting and inspiring. He was (and still is) a mover, a shaker, and a get-it-done-maker. When his neighbors have been in need for anything, Georges was/is a finder of solutions.
Just imagine the challenges for a mother, with two young sons; Roger, a bit older, and younger Georges. Both had to grow up fast, with some of Georges’ childhood needing to be put on hold for a bit. (Today’s evidence of that is Hameau Duboeuf, all in the book.)
Think Peter Pan: Why Walt Disney created what the child in him craved, why Georges Duboeuf recreated a tiny village, like the one he would sneak off to build in an old shed, complete with miniatures. In Georges’ life, he has not only created relationships through his business life, but he has also satisfied his sense of pedagogy. And, that’s very remarkable.
Reading the book, seeing the life that was, is, and now what is before him, it’s about his child-like, generous spirit within. He makes me happy that I have some French DNA, let’s just say.
SHAPE-SHIFTERS: I also now know that Georges Duboeuf is to Beaujolais what Robert Mondavi was to Napa Valley… Both shaped regions with the highest standards they possibly could, by influencing the flavors of that region, as each has gone forward.
All of his wine relationships were started through neighbors and forged friendships over the years. Just imagine… a community that hasn’t gown apart as each generation goes forward. This can be a little hard to understand, unless to take yourself back to the “Old World.” The French Wine business has never been part of the Industrial Revolution… viticulture just kept happening, year after year – staying close to the earth. Eating, sleeping, drinking, socializing, everything that America was before the industrial revolution… That’s what it’s been like in Beaujolais, since forever, and still continues with passeggiatas within all of these country families.
Closest friends are in the book, a who’s who of Beaujolais. Some of those vintners mentioned I just met, took their photos, enjoyed their hospitality, tasted their own wines. Americans farmers can understand a lot of this.
These are the kinds of stories we crave, those of legends, if we’re into wine. Georges Duboeuf is part Beaujolais’ history for legally defining its terroir, regions, styles, soils, grape varieties… all of the steps carried out, in defining this specific region and history of France. That’s a very special distinction: to be this kind of innovator, a creator… Georges Duboeuf’s history book gives you all the steps.
Our morning tasting with the Duboeuf family (Georges, Franck, and Aurélien) was coming to a close, but they had one more surprise for each of us: Georges Duboeuf’s autobiography. Now we’re talking. Now I would get to explore who this man really is, what was his life like as a child, and all that he’s done as an adult. (There’s a lot of reading/enjoying to do.)
It’s hard to articulate how much respect I have for this family. Give me the heart and soul. Let me get inside it, so I can tell the story that the subject has written, in their own layers. Fun to peel them back. This is an amazing success story. It’s such an honor to have been entertained by the Duboeuf family; so I, too, could educate about Beaujolais.
I am still very much a student, as only a few layers have been peeled back, still, it’s all very fascinating. (Loving history helps.)
Beaujolais, A Shared Passion was written with the complicity of Jean Orizet, and translated by Eileen Powis. All three have done a very fine job.
To Franck, to Answer Your Question: How Do I Love Thee, France? Let Me Count the Ways