Napoleon’s Wine

Posted on: 10th June, 2016

Category: The Wine Buff

Contributor: Tony Eklof

“Nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin” (Napoleon Bonaparte)

Napoleon liked to travel to Italy. I like to travel to Italy, but I don’t bring an army with me. Napoleon appreciated Italian art. I love Italian art, but I don’t carry it home with me. Napoleon loved his wine, and so do I, but whereas he was stuck on one type, I enjoy trying different varieties.

The young and newly appointed head of the French army in Italy Napoleon first emulated Hannibal by crossing the Alps in 1796 to ‘liberate’ northern Italy mostly from the Austrians, and to lend support to local Jacobins. The treaty ending this particular conflict handed Venice over to the Austrians, ending the long history of the independent Venetian city­state.

In 1800 Napoleon crossed the Alps a second time and pulled off a famous victory when faced with defeat against the Austrian army at Marengo in the Piedmont. (Did you know that Tosca is set against the background of the Battle of Marengo?) This time Napoleon’s excursion to Italy was much
more lasting, and he insured his continuing influence by installing his relatives as rulers of various parts of Italy. His brother Joseph became King of Naples. Sister Elisa became Princess of Lucca and Grand Duchess of Tuscany and enjoyed a long and popular reign as reflected by the fact that one of Lucca’s beautiful squares is still officially named Piazza Napoleone. Napoleon’s own wife Marie Louise became by all accounts a much­loved ruler of Parma.

While initially welcomed as liberator in Italy Napoleon blotted his copybook by carting off much of Italy’s treasures and donating them to the newly established Louvre in Paris. From one city alone, Bologna, 86 wagons were needed to transport the looted art back to Paris. Outstanding examples include the famous Horses of Saint Mark, which Napoleon had mounted on the Arc de Triomphe and Veronese’s great Wedding at Cana, which hangs in the Louvre to this day.

So which wines did Napoleon favour? When it came to Champagne, which he was quite fond of, it had to be Moet and Chandon and he made many visits to their cellars in Epernay. He was quoted as saying ‘In victory you deserve Champagne, in defeat you need it!’ As for red wine, he only had time for one, Burgundy’s highly­rated Chambertin.

Supposedly he had barrels of Chambertin carted around after him during his campaigns including Italy, which would mean some poor soldiers had to carry them over the Alps! Incidentally when Josephine Bonaparte died an inventory of her wine cellar listed 13,000 bottles about half of which were very fine Bordeaux. Her taste obviously differed from the Emperor’s.

Recommendations ­

2010 Louis Latour Gevrey­Chambertin, on special in SuperValu at €37 down from €47.99. I know, good Burgundy is expensive! Chambertin Grand Cru is one of Burgundy’s stronger, more intense, perfumed wines with great cellaring potential.

Just in at Lidl, a more affordable Burgundy, Bourgogne Hautes Cote de Nuits, 2014, €12.99.

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13th April, 2018  ·  

An evening on the 'Balance of Feeling Good' by Clonakilty Gaa Club Health and Wellbeing Committee followed by Guest Speaker, Cork GAA Chairperson, Tracey Kennedy.

Paddy Duggan, former Principal of Clonakilty Community College, will be MC on the night, facilitating a discussion on getting the balance of feeling good.
Contributors on the night are Colm Sheehy, Conor Murray, David Lowney, Denis Murphy, Eoghan Deasy, Sean McEvoy, Thomas Clancy and Treasa O'Brien.
Topics covered will range from awareness and responsibility to yourself and others to the benefits of exercise and nutrition.
The evening is suitable for everyone aged 16 and over from players, members of the community, parents of young and adolescent children, etc.

This is a public event, free of charge and everyone is invited and very welcome to attend.
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12th April, 2018  ·  

The Cast of Harold Pinter’s ‘No Man’s Land’ are on their way to the All-Ireland finals, having won 26 awards, including five best of Festivals, at the Amateur Drama League of Ireland annual three act festivals. The play ‘No Man’s Land, by Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize Winning Author is directed by Jennifer Williams.

One last opportunity to view this multi award winning play at Skibbereen Town Hall, on Saturday 14th of April, before the finals.

Having met by chance in a pub, two aging writers continue a long night of drinking and reminiscing in a stately London home. As the night wears on, their conversation wanders through memories long forgotten or invented. Is their encounter real or a delusion? Are they strangers or do they share a past history? When unexpected guests intrude upon an increasingly surreal evening, the atmosphere quickly changes from friendly to threatening, and the encounter becomes a game of survival.

Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by emailing schulldramagroup@gmail.com

For more information please contact hilary.mccarthy6@gmail.com
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