|Moet et Chandon's cellars span 17 miles underground
|Drouhin caves were an escape route from the Gestapo
|Behind newly built walls were hidden wines
The French survived and resisted the Nazis in ways that only the French knew how. They hid the best of their wines in secret caves and ponds and blatantly showed off the lesser wines to sell to the Germans. (One story involved children collecting spiderwebs to make a new wall look old! It worked as the Germans walked past the wines hidden behind that wall.) Several winemakers were actively part of the resistance, operating from their own cellars. Others negotiated charmingly and formed relationships with more sympathetic German officials. A few families risked their own lives to hide and protect their Jewish friends and American allies.
Whether they were trapped in war prisons or free in the vineyards examining the damage caused by artillery and lack of care, the health of their vines was constantly in the minds of the French winemakers. Many prisoners-of-war were kept strong by memory of their beloved wines. In fact, a gastronomic guidebook, Le Maître de Maison by Roger Ribaud, was conceived in one of the POW camps.
|French vineyards now vibrant were in a state of disrepair during the war
The next time I open a bottle of Joseph Drouhin or Huet Vouvray, I will remember Maurice Drouhin who engaged in resistance activities from his cellar and Gaston Huet who survived five years as a prisoner of war. I will remember we can correct the course.
My Verdict: The book is a great read for wine geeks. The style unfortunately has a little awkwardness in the flow as the authors tried to weave in the various stories they collected. Still I enjoy being delighted by the history behind some of the wines I have tasted or cellared.