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Spots in the beard of Charlemagne


The lands surrounding the villages of Aloxe and Pernand in Burgundy are suitable for the production of red wine but, there is also an old tradition of white wine production in this region, especially on the hill of Corton. In fact, Corton wines are among the greatest white wines in the world. According to a legend Charlemagne is responsible for such prestigious wine.


The emperor, a man of great stature and good appetite, had a vineyard on the hill of Corton, which provided him with his favorite red wine. However, over the years, the copious glasses of red wine, which he drank with such enthusiasm, left visible stains on his white beard. It is for this reason that Charlemagne became known as the emperor with the "flowery" beard! However, this story, which popularized Charlemagne's character, is not a good excuse to accept that we drink great wines in a similar fashion to Coca-Cola! So, always drink wine properly, and sip it. The end of the story is that Liutgarde, the emperor's wife, considered the spots unsuitable to the dignity of her husband. Rather than trying to teach him good manners, which would have been to no avail, she persuaded him to drink white wine, which was significantly more acceptable to Charlemagne. To please his wife and to continue to peacefully enjoy his favorite Corton, he replanted part of the vineyard with vines of white grapes. Thus, the chardonnay made its appearance on the lands of Aloxe with great success!


To obtain the good grace of the Church, Charlemagne offered Corton’s vineyard to the collegiate church of Saint-Andoche de Saulieu in 775. In many ways, this was a fair deal since the same monks had been dispossessed by Charlemagne's grandfather, Charles Martel. The quality of the wine produced since then has been officially recognized by the creation of the Grand Cru Corton Charlemagne, one of the most prestigious wine certification in the world. We should pause here and think gratefully of Liutgarde, who took such good care of her emperor, because no climate, no wine, and no appellation pays any tribute to the "mother of the white wine of Corton". And, if the Emperor was forced to accept these white wines, today we can enjoy them with great pleasure… without losing a drop!


Source : Fine French Wines from James Turnbull

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