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Wine Books: George Saintsbury

George Saintsbury, a onetime Oxford Don, kept a cellar book detailing his wines and fabulous dinners. Through this book the memory of the man lives on, and is perhaps far more significant a work than Saintsbury himself ever realised.

George SaintsburyNotes on a Cellar Book (2008)
George Saintsbury
University of California Press
Available from Amazon (UK) and Amazon (USA)
ISBN-13: 978-0520253520

This book isn't for everyone. It is an unusual collection of notes, menus and opinions, all written by one time Regius Professor of Rhetoric, George Saintsbury. Professor Saintsbury takes us on a wonderful journey, as he reminisces about the contents of his cellar over the years. I found the chapters concerning Champagne, Claret, Burgundy, Port, Sherry and Madeira the most fascinating. The Professor gives accounts of wines such as '58 Margaux and '86 La Tâche, and I frequently had to stop and remind myself that he is referring to 1858 and 1886, rather than any year of the 20th century. I think it is this that I enjoy most about this book - it really brings home the sense of history that surrounds many of the great domaines of France. As well as an account of the wines of the time, the author also gives much detail on the beers, spirits and other libations that graced his cellar. There are also some interesting sections on cellar arrangements, bottles and glasses, and a fascinating list of menus - Saddle of Mutton with Moët 1889, anybody?