Bouquet by G.B. Stern
Limited edition of 950 copies
Printed in America with Eco-Friendly Ink on FSC Certified Paper
Bound in fine cloth over board with a silk screened cover illustration by Hsinping Pan
6 ¼ × 8 ⅞ × 1 ⅜ in.
About the Book
During the years Paul spent working for several wine merchants, he had to turn away customers wanting to purchase for a wine lover a special gift that wasn’t the umpteenth bottle of wine, decanter or corkscrew. He had vowed then to do something about it. Today we present you with Bouquet, a great book on wine - written by a wonderful female author instead of the usual droning male wine geek - but also a beautiful object, a special limited-edition, printed on heavy paper, bound with fine cloth over board, and silk screened with a wonderfully whimsical illustration.
G.B. Stern (1890-1973) was an author, playwright, and a critic whose literary circle included Noel Coward and Rebecca West. Her prose is brilliant, irresistible, hilarious and triumphal as she recounts her 1926 tour of the vineyards of France with her husband Johnny, and her friends Rosemary and Humphrey. Together they journey from Provence to the Rhône, across the Massif Central to Bordeaux, then up to the Loire Valley and across to Burgundy, finally completing a full circle in Avignon. They drink lavishly (wine list here), eat French food voraciously, and with the requisite courteousness but an utterly addicting eye for the quirks and foibles of their hosts, they visit several of the greatest wineries of France (Chapoutier, Lafite-Rothschild, Margaux, Yquem, Romanée-Conti). Stern does not shy away from the occasional rant, and the one in which she addresses men’s sexism in regards to women and wine, is magnificent.
Bouquet is “a triumphal tour,” read the New York Times book review of July 10, 1927, “and Mrs. Stern has set it down with that happy sense of humor, that perfect eye for the ridiculous and that instinctive understanding of French character that lifts ‘Bouquet’ very far from the usual dry book about wine...” (full New York Times review here)
About the Author
Gladys Bronwyn Stern or GB Stern, 1890–1973, born Gladys Bertha Stern in London, England, wrote many novels, short stories, plays, memoirs, biographies and literary criticism.
She wrote her first novel at the age of 20, and then continued to write a novel every year. Her "Rakonitz" novels, e.g. The Rakonitz Chronicles (1932), were based on her cosmopolitan, non-practicing Jewish family. She married New Zealander Geoffrey Lisle Holdsworth in 1919, and sometimes collaborated with him. After World War II she became a Catholic. Her 1938 novel The Ugly Dachshund was made into a film.
With Sheila Kaye-Smith she wrote the dialogues Talking of Jane Austen and More Talk of Jane Austen. She also wrote a biography of Robert Louis Stevenson.
About the Illustrator
Hsinping Pan is a young Taiwanese illustrator and animator. She loves to draw colorful things and sometimes gets to make them move. She has been successful in this endeavor and was awarded the Grand Prize at the Taiwan festival of animation in 2006. She has illustrated or animated for Sony Pictures, Nickelodeon, Yogabba gabba, Calgonit, Kraft, Chiquita Banana, etc.
Her fascination with Japanese culture, combined with a joyful naïve style, makes for artwork that is irresistible and very current; primitive, Asian, folky. Hsinping likes to create things that are happy and warm, that make people smile. Both her cover and Stern’s writing are beaming with joy. Yet the juxtaposition of Hsinping’s childish images with a grown up subject matter is unexpected.
Our hope is to bring you works that are not only highly entertaining (or enlightening), but also beautiful, with a strong sense of purpose and artisanship, just like the wines we love, for we are first and foremost winos and foodies. Perhaps not so unexpectedly, Hsingping too is obsessed with food. If she was not an illustrator she would want to own a cake shop, and the question she most likes to be asked is “What do you want to eat today?” Serendipity.
You can see more of Hsinping’s work here: www.hsinpingpan.com, and here: www.lillarogers.com/artists/hsinping-pan.
A careless suggestion:
“Let’s go on a wine-tour!” said Johnny, very soon after this first interchange of careless arrogance. Johnny was usually the first to say “Let’s,” and the results were often extremely expensive, for we prided ourselves on being the sort of people who did not allow “Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely?” to slide away like water for a moment cupped in the palms, to be lost forever afterwards in the sand.
The Great Burgundy Bordeaux Divide:
"The whole trouble about Burgundy is, to my mind, that it's just a straightforward, sound wine...It has a good Burgundy bouquet, and a good Burgundy body, and a good Burgundy aftertaste. It keeps well, and is very rarely disappointing, and that's that.......But Bordeaux........It simply gets you, so that no other wine can ever mean the same again; and if the bad clarets are fifty times worse and fifty times oftener bad than the bad Burgundies..."
"They are," interrupted Rosemary.
In the cellars of Romanée-Conti:On the smaller side [of the cellar] was the Romanée-Conti, about ten barrels of the 1924 vintage, already sold, and about thirty of the 1925. No more that that… The least of the cellars we had hitherto visited in France could have held the Romanée-Conti cave ten times over. We were as awed, confronted by that impressive, that magnificently disdainful smallness, as we had been by the dim immensity of Château Margaux.
Rosemary’s impeccable French:
“Tiens?” exclaimed Rosemary.
Rosemary’s “Tiens?” was a ripple; a gentle little refrain questioning and yet full of wide-eyed acceptance, sounded at intervals throughout our tour of the vineyards of France. She said: “Tiens?” when M. Quiot told us that all the really good Burgundies were made from Rhone wines; she said: “Tiens?” when a proprietor who shall remain nameless, told us that a proprietor, who shall be still more nameless, was a charlatan; she said: “Tiens?” when they told us in Bordeaux that the wines of Burgundy were heavy, and tasted of the cooked grape; she said “Tiens?” when a wine-merchant of Pommard, told us that real vinous delicacy, subtlety, and flavor were only to be found in Pommard, and not in the vineyards on the Côtes de Nuits – Romanée-Conti, Richebourg, Clos de Vougeot, and so forth; she said: “Tiens?” when at Romanée-Conti they informed us that Bordeaux was a vin ordinaire, and that Pommard did not exist; she said: “Tiens?” with an inflection of the strongest belief and trustfulness and how-wrong-I-was when a hotel proprietor, who had nothing in his cellars older than 1919, told that nowadays real connoisseurs judged that wine should not be left in the cellar longer than seven or eight years. I learned to love the monosyllable as Rosemary brought it out.
On sexism and sweet wine:Meanwhile the affable chambermaid was chatting to Rosemary about the wines. “They are good – yes? M. Garosse,” – M. Garosse was the unknown gentleman – “M. Garosse was puzzled at first, not knowing the company, which wines to choose; and then he said: ‘Puisqu’il y a des dames…’”
“Puisqu’il y a des dames.”
Because of the ladies!
It did not need the rolling eyes of hatred which Humphrey and Johnny both turned upon us, for Rosemary and myself to explode into fury. We just waited until the chambermaid departed. “Puisqu’il y a des dames” – the old story, the old idiot fallacy that the ladies prefer sweet wine. Why should we prefer sweet wine? Has not a woman eyes, organs, dimensions, sense, affections, passions even as a man has? But there is a masculine type who will always classify the ladies – God bless ‘em! – as a form of kittle-cattle who must be humoured and indulged, given compliments, lies, and sweetmeats, relegated to the drawing-room to gossip or fuss, to read pretty novels or to show off their frocks to an envious rival of frocks; and that sums up the ladies, God bless ‘em! So let’s open a bottle of Sauternes, Sigalas-Rabaud 1922… That’ll please ‘em. And so to the serious business of life.