Well if you love wine and history this is the book for you. The by-line says it all “The Battle for France’s Greatest Treasures”.
This is the story of what happened to the great wines during the German occupation of France during World War 2. Filled with funny tales from sommeliers and wine merchants about pulling the wool over the German occupation force’s eyes and palates.
“Chevaliers was a chic carpet firm …. when a valuable carpet needed cleaning, even one from a museum, it usually went to Chevaliers. ….. someone decided the dust was too good to throw away. Before long Chevaliers was bundling up sacks of ancient dust and distributing to some of Paris’s best restaurants. There it would be sprinkled on bottles of cheap young wine to make them look old and rare. The bottles would then be presented to German clients who thought they were Getting something extraordinary”
This book is filled with stories of ordinary people who did brave and extraordinary things to preserve a little piece of France.
“Bringing in the grapes was nearly impossible. Many vineyards has been sown with anti-tank Mines in anticipation of an Allied attack.”
Whilst the human cost of WW2 is horrendous, the wanton destruction of centuries of viticulture strikes a chord. “One day in 1942, Alsatians woke to the sound of sawing. …..they saw that their vineyards were full of Hitler Youth …. In one fell swoop, the hybrids, which comprised 75 percent of the vineyards, were gone from Alsace”.
For me this is a book of ordinary people fighting to save their history, culture and post war livelihood. You can visit one of the cellars and hear some of this story (while Enjoying a wine or two) when you next visit France.
Wine and history and another excuse to visit Paris – what’s not to like ?
If you want to own, here is a link to the appropriate page at Amazon.