The first ever book to explore the full history of Bordeaux’s five first growths is to be published next month with a foreword by Francis Ford Coppola.
Bordeaux Legends – The 1855 First Growth Wines, written by wine writer and Bordeaux expert Jane Anson, came into being after Anson was given exclusive access to châteaux Lafite, Latour, Margaux, Mouton-Rothschild and Haut-Brion.
During her research, Anson spent weeks pouring over the archives at Lafite, Haut-Brion and Margaux.
She also carried out extensive research in the city archives in Bordeaux, and in London at Christie’s auction house and Bordeaux specialist merchant Berry Bros & Rudd in St James’s.
Film director-turned-winemaker Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now, and owner of famed Napa Valley estate Inglenook, describes the book in his foreword as: “a most interesting and valuable history to those who realise that truly great wine is something of a miracle.”
“The idea that there are five superb wines which are thought of as “the best” threads its way through time and geography and stimulates the wonderful world of fine wine in many ways,” he writes.
The book, which will be published under the name Elixirs in French and will feature quotes from château owners, directors, technical staff, courtiers, négociants and wine merchants, took Bordeaux-based Anson two years to write.
Bordeaux Legends covers centuries of Bordeaux history, from the dramas of the French Revolution and the 1855 Paris Exhibition where four of the châteaux were crowned first growths, to the determined efforts that saw Château Mouton-Rothschild join them more than a century later.
In addition, the book is filled with little-known facts such as the high level of intermarriage between the first growth owning families over the last half millennium, and the fact that Lafite and Mouton swapped rows of vines in the 1920s.
However, the work is not a collection of separate histories, but an exploration into the obsessional detail that goes into making the world’s greatest wines, how their histories interlink, and how as a quintet they have influenced the growth of the Bordeaux region as a whole.
Bordeaux Legends, published by Editions de La Martinière and featuring photographs of the five châteaux by Isabelle Rosenbaum, will go on sale on 18 October, priced at £35.