The Book that Defined Bordeaux (by winespectator.com)

Posted: May 30, 2013 by wynmaker in Bordeaux, Cellars, Europe, Origin, Vintage, Wine, Wineries, World wine news
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Bruno Boidron – Editions Féret

Bruno Boidron – Editions Féret

 

Editions Féret, founded 200 years ago, foreshadowed the 1855 classification and set the standard for wine guides

On a sunny morning in September 1897, Edouard Féret sat on a horse, watching the harvest in Bordeaux’s Médoc region. Women and children cut the grape clusters, carefully discarding rotten fruit before depositing the ripe grapes in a basket, a work for which, Féret noted, they were paid half the daily wage of 1.50 francs that the men earned. As he visited each property, he took out a well-worn book, thickened by the addition of alternating blank pages, and carefully documented changes that had occurred since 1893, when the book had been published. It was the sixth edition of Bordeaux et Ses Environs et Ses Vins, Classé par Ordre de Merite, or Bordeaux and Its Region and Its Wines, Ranked in Order of Merit, and Féret was taking notes for the upcoming seventh edition.

Time has shortened the title to Bordeaux et Ses Vins, but Bordeaux wine aficionados know it simply as Le Féret. It may be the most influential book on wine ever published—it certainly has been the most influential in Bordeaux, where the original 1850 edition provided the blueprint for the 1855 classification of Médoc and Sauternes châteaus still in use today. The 18 editions of the book have also provided unparalleled historic snapshots of Bordeaux and its wine industry.

What started as a slim 84-page travel guide for 19th century gentlemen burgeoned into a 2,296-page bible for Bordeaux merchants, brokers, history buffs and wine geeks. It is the oldest book in France updated continuously by the same editor and publisher. Editions Féret celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2013, and the publishing house is celebrating by preparing the Bordeaux guide’s 19th edition, which will be released in French, English and Mandarin and in e-book format.

“It’s really the reference for courtiers when they start in the business, and I’ve bought every edition,” said Xavier Coumau, president of the courtiers’ syndicate. “Of course today we have the Internet, but Le Féret remains very useful. It has information about the château, the owners, technical information about the vineyard and wine, how they sell their wine. And it’s really interesting to see how the vineyard surface area changes over time.”

Edouard Féret published 200 books in his 40-year career, but Bordeaux and Its Wines would define his work. He had a passion for wine, a zest for detail, and a skill for dogged, accurate reporting. The 1898 edition captured Bordeaux at the cusp of modernity, and each successive edition is considered required reading
Read on …

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