‘Not just one of the best books on wine, it’s one of the best books on France.’ Michael Palin
The sleepy village of Puligny-Montrachet produces the greatest white wines in Burgundy, famous throughout the world, but the place itself is unknown to outsiders. The lives of its inhabitants are shaped by the rhythms of the agricultural year, punctuated by the intense activity of the harvest, when the noise of tractors echoes down the narrow streets as the grapes are carried to the cellars.
This vivid and evocative journal of everyday life in rural France takes us through the cycle of the seasons, from the bonfires of the winter prunings to the celebrations of the feast of St Vincent. We meet the butcher, the baker, the mayor and, of course, the vignerons, from small growers cultivating a few rows of wines to the owners of the best Domaines.
Combining a history of the village with a detailed study of the vines, this is a fascinating snapshot of a way of life that is disappearing.
Wine is at the center of this intriguing study of a rural French village. For some 700 years, we are told, work, family life and society in PulignyMontrachet have revolved around the production of its noble white burgundies. Loftus, a British wine merchant and writer ( Anatomy of the Wine Trade ), demonstrates an intimate knowledge of Puligny's history, people, vines, soils, climates, crus, grandes domaines and various plagues that have decimated its vineyards. He also supplies authoritative descriptions of the celebrations, feuds and despairs of the vintners. Although Loftus fortifies his discussion with much technical wine talk, there is nothing technical about his love for the village and its vines. He writes feelingly about the infinitesimal climatic shifts that can make the difference between a great burgundy and a poor one; about the beauty of an 18th-century land-register that details exactly the houses, trees, vineyard subdivisions and ownership of each fraction of land; and about his own passion for ``the scent of those white burgundies (a mixture of fresh straw and ripe peaches . . . suggestions of woodsmoke, of honey and of freshly sawn oak).'' Photos not seen by PW.