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  • Writer's pictureCláudio Giordano

An 18th Century Promotional Flyer

BVReppucci's findings and treasures are not just found in formidable incunabula, wonderful art editions, unique manuscripts, and similar items- they are also expressed in miniature pieces.

This is the case of the small (21 x 13.5cm) bifolio which has the last page in blank - thus furtherly reducing the text, and a rustic wood engraving on the top which was printed around 1790 in Auxerre.

We decided to present it here not for its undeniable rarity, but rather for its peculiar character: it consists of a pamphlet that, praised by a possible bureaucratic report (memory), the text is made with an uncommon solemnity and objectivity, that, at the same time, records the history of a vineyard, the detailed description of the land on which it is planted and the vines from which sprout grapes rich in sugar and color, which finally produce a wine that is comparable to the best bordeaux and hermitages of its time. All this in a simple and straightforward language, without exaggeration, and illustrated by a vignette with elements pertinent to the subject: a sketch of the vineyard with buildings of the city in the back and in the front, the family dog; the farmer raising his arms, seeming to be thanking the skies; bunches of grapes, glasses and bottles of wine.

In order to preserve its sobriety, we will, hereinafter, translate from the flyer’s original text that was written in French.

Memorial Extract on a vineyard called La Vieille Plant

In the land of Pontigny there is a vineyard of about 4 hectares that once belonged to the religious community of that city, and which today belongs to Mr. Bernard. According to the tradition, it was planted by Saint Bernard: the truth is that the vines are extremely old, hence named La Vieille Plante (The Old Plant).

The vineyard is located on a slightly sloping area facing the sunrise. The soil has a peculiar nature: the surface consists of vegetal soil mixed with sandstone and some clay; below that layer of about 30 cm. thick, there is a layer of 15 cm. of a yellowish clay that covers a slightly thinner layer of iron ore mixed with clay soil and black gravel and, on the top, a greenish clay bank.

The rusty layer was the origin, according to the Cistercian monks, of the excellent wine produced in that little canton; that’s why they tried to keep the vines thoroughly covered with it. One can see how the layer fades away as it distances from the Vieille Plante, completely disappearing at a small distance; without it, the wines also lose their quality.

The vines are planted far away from each other and preserved at the height of 80 cm. They are all of the Morillon negra or Pinot franc types, with only some white Morillon or Beaunois: these types of grapes have a foreshadowing sugary flavor and produce a liqueur that is far superior to all the others.

The current owner, eager to maintain the reputation of his vineyard, cultivates it with the utmost care; he only uses fertilized soil to fertilize the plants, without contaminating or over-nourishing them, allowing him to produce more, but with poorer quality.

According to the memorial, the Vieille Plante wine, a lavish, fine and deep-colored wine, is the result of all of these different factors- the soil, the harvesting and the cultivation; stored for four or five years, it can be compared to the good Bordeaux wines and, if stored for more time, it can compete with the hermitage wine. It can, however, always be compared to the best Borgogne crus, according to the gourmet experts: and in this case, seducing its critics is equivalent to gaining legitimacy.

The Mayor of Yvonne, moved by the wine’s reputation, wanted to visit and examine the vineyard, as well as examine the ground. Mr. Boutarel, a member of the department's general council, author of the memorial, accompanied him on his visit, whose remarks are reproduced above.

Translated by Monica Haberer.

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