Saturday, February 25, 2006

Torino 1787: Jefferson was there

“Arriving in Turin on April 17, I stayed two days at the Hotel d'Angleterre, the best hotel. It was here that I first tasted a wine called Nebiule. It was a singular wine, melding three contradictory characteristics. It was about as sweet as the silky Madeira, as astringent on the palate as Bordeaux, and as brisk as Champagne. It was a pleasing wine.”

We are in the dining room of Hôtel de Langeac, Thomas Jefferson's residence in Paris. Jefferson gives an account of his 1787 trip to the South of France and Northern Italy to his good friend Benjamin Franklin and the guest of the evening, Jack Osborne, a modern time college history professor. The three men are leisurely sipping a 1784 Haut Brion — one of Jefferson's favorite wines — while sharing ideas on slavery, women's education, separation of church and state, and many other fascinating topics, including wine of course.

The book, An Evening with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson: Dinner, Wine, and Conversation, is what you need to recover from too much Olympics. I first heard about it in Tom Wark's Fermentation blog. The author, James Gabler, is a Jefferson scholar and also a wine lover. The story is about a fictive dinner conversation around wine, food and politics, using Jefferson and Franklin's own statements. In the book, these two old friends are very much alive, their eyes are twinkling , they are enjoying their wines and relishing the great moments of their lives. And the reader is also having a great time. However, I only have one regret now that I have finished the book: not to have a sip of this 1784 Haut Brion.

Thanks Tom for recommending this excellent book!

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