Taking for Head Line « Wine is the blood of France », Mr. Philippe de Rotschild delivered in 1935 a brilliant lecture at the Paris P. T. T. “under the high patronage of the Ministry of Trade.”
We bring back the text of this lecture, being sure that our readers of today will, like the auditors of 1935, will feel the same attraction for his seducing invocation of the good wines of France.
« One of my friends, a fine degustator, always says « A great wine it is looked at, heard, breathed, and then.. then. it is spoken of. To drink it, he adds, let us leave that to those sentenced to death ».
O you miraculous glass of wine!
« Well, I am going to act as he does. In order to speak better, I got the people here to bring me a glass of wine, a fine glass of red wine it radiates, it shines, it sings before my eyes. Its perfume pervades the micro. Oh I beg your pardon, dear listeners, I was forgetting that waves have no smell as yet.
O you miraculous glass of wine allow me to tell your great French family what benefactions your select ferments carry.
For you are a very important gentleman. More so than is thought do not blush if I dare say so – You were born in a country which radiates on the world. And your share is great in this radiation.
First of ail, there is an art where your part is essential, an art in which France always prevailed Cooking.
What would our Vatel, our Brillat-Savarin, our Escoffier, have done without you. 0 tasty small glass of wine ? In this respect, I can make you shiver. This took place in the United States during prohibition. Two Americans were at lunch. What were they eating ? Twelve snails, and as a drink a bowl of cold (milk) Enough to get nausea, is it not ?
Back to History
It is folly to give the lie to a thousand years of hygiene and progress The Gauls were filling the Amphories of Rome.
In 1307, Edward II, king of England bought a thousand casks of Bordeaux wine.
Henry IV of France was christened with Jurançon wine.
Louis XIV, Louis XV used to take supper with Bordeaux, sent by the Marshal of Richelieu.
Napoleon made the King of Rome drink Chambertin.
And bottles are being heaped up in the London cellars for the approaching coronation of H. M. George VI.
Let us pass from History to Geography.
In this pretty orchard which is France. Ah! what prodigious varieties hills and vats are offering to us red, rose, grey, white, mellifluous, rasping, acid or velvety, such a complete array of tones that everyone can dress his table as if it were a symphony.
How touching all those villages sown with reges and echalas. Great wines and small inclosures, a hierarchy of nature. A few proud chateaux, the centres of experiments and propaganda. A crowd of modest growers, none the less glorious in their obsure obstinacy. The image of a well organised society, the concerted efforts af both mass and élite.
There has been made the fame of these names Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and other wine producing provinces, Cognacs and Armagnacs, these resplendent names which project on the world at large the sap and sun of France.
O small wine, so calm in your glass
And now,a little biology.
O small wine, so calm in your glass. You-call-me ? I listen to you.
You are not pleased ? Yes, yes, you are right. You are indignant at the uprear raised around these « jouvences low class produces which, by dint of advertising, guaranty an eternal youth. No do not critise them, we should be sued.
But you are right to proclaim that you do the same. What do I say ? more, much more, and it is never spoken of. Perhaps because you are too old. You do not enjoy any more the attraction of novelty. You are too well known. Then, you are forgotten.
Listen. I am going to explain.
The miracles of Medoc
Medoc in the French province where they drink most wine well, it is the province where the least alcoholic people are to be found, the least sick, where people live the longest. We have in this respect thundering statistics.
There are in Medoc twice the number of old people of more than eighty years of age than in the rest’ of France, and that without omitting the drinking of their comfortable jug.
Well, small glass of wine, are you pleased ? with figures in our hands, we can laugh at ail these quacks’ trickeries, at those inventions of « mercantis ».
What You call me still ? You are not pleased yet. Ah You are very noisy, you little mirror of live coals You are right. I was forgetting.
Your want to speak of your sad enemy, cocktail. The import from a barbarons people, this refreshment for gun mouths, this apothicary’s mixture ? But, do not be arrogant. A little modesty in your triumph. Doctors themselves are obliged to acknowledge your work and prescribe the inclosed toxin.
Still, this cocktail, what a factory of doctors’patients -Morcoyer, think, dear listeners, how many banquets have been ended on these words « Your good health Well, would you dare to say the same on saising a glass of water or a cup of lime juice ? So, ever since the creation of the world who, at all times was called for a kind of divine mission, for an ambassy of peace and comfort ? Always wine.
And now, little red friend inclosed in chrystal, forgive me. I am going to give you pain,, because 1 shall utter the work drink.
It must be done. This is the end which you yourself carry. so as to excite and quench the hunger (excuse the joke) which men carry inside. And in your misfortune, you may be proud, for you succeed in a twofold miracle. 0 prodigy, thanks to you we can join the useful part to the pleasant one, duty to pleasure and even to health.
Belfore being enclosed in glass, pretty wine sparkling with mischief, you were earth, root, branch, leave, bloom, grape. You were bern in a vat, you grew in casks, to get perfect in bottles. And when at last, the bottle is empty, your work is far from being over. It is necessary to think of filling it again.
Would you not, dear listeners, be the first to deplore that it should remain empty ? To fill it anew, this is labourers who plough, cask makers who rasp.
A whole world of workmen and country people at work. By your empty bottle, they can refill their purse, purchase some comfort, get some joy. They can go to town and buy things, clothes, distractions. In one word, your empty bottle is the commercial life of France which wakes up. A famous eternal cycle out of which prosperity springs.
Dust you are and to dust will return, but as you go, you sow a trace of happiness and hope.
The moment of truth
Before I conclude, dear small glass enchanted with purple and gold, allow me to call up these sceneries where your part is such that you make men triumph and women faint. Oh what a gentle heat you spread though our bodies and minds Oh what a marvellous vertigo which opens new horizons and mad tenderness. You little imp full of transparence, it is not in the throat that you flow, but in the looks, it is even in the closed eyelids which weep with joy bchind their cushions filled up with abysses.
And reflect that all this, the cursed glass of wine goes and tell the foreigners of the far off country, laughing at the midnight sun.
Laughing at the midnight sun,, and flaming sunsets, everywhere it goes moistens all throats all souls.
It speaks of us in such praising words that the whole earth comes to see and envy us. Ah we do not know how to value our good fortune.
Out there, on the opposite side of the globe, in vain have they tried to copy it, it is our wine they drink. For it, they freight lorries, trains and ships. Carefully packed, it travels for wecks, months, and N and for it, people do not hesitate to pay enormous sums. While we too have got it here, close to us, so close that we have only to hold out our fingers and lips.
And we are stupid enough to forget that the wit of France, we perliaps owe to this daily mouthful of the juice of our vines, this fruit of our furrows.
Then, dear listeners.
A glass of wine, a glass of good wine, a good glass of wine, think of all you realise and provoke while tasting it. You give workmen their living, you make the foreigners jealous, you preserve one of to most precious traditions of France, you feel a whole sensation of sweetness and euphory, you take for your health a life insurance. In short, you develop your activity and the country. Thus, by emptying your cup, you fill your heart and, indirecty, your purse. How many things in one gesture.
And now, little glass of wine, you and I. Alas, your end bas come. We ought to preach an example. The instant is solemn. You must die.
And you cannot be angry with me since your death is my life.
Dear listeners, do as I do.
I raise my glass to your good health.
Dear little glass of wine, by your death, I drink to the eternal virtues of the wine of France.