Premier Je Suis, Second Je Fus, Mouton Ne Change

Live from the Garonne Estuary: Château Mouton Rothschild

Suppose you were heading from Bordeaux to London in the twelfth century by sea.

Suppose you wanted to stop someplace to pick up something to use as ballast.

Where would you stop?

Yep. You would stop at what is now Château Mouton Rothschild on the left bank of the Garonne. That is the ideal place to stop, pick up whatever ballast you need for ship stability, and rebalance your cargo before you head out beyond Isle de Cordouan into the waves of the North Atlantic.

What do you think the chances are that the best place in the world to grow grapes for making claret — the place with the absolute-best, ahem, terroir — just happens to also be the ideal place to pick up ballast for the Bordeaux-London voyage?

And, in fact, what are the odds that the sea-run ballast pick-up point would just happen to be for Bordeaux-London? That the sea run would be that between the capital of the lands that Eleanor d’Acquitaine brought to the Angevin Empire and the London capital and court of Henri II de Plantagenet?

“But what about the Burgundies?” you ask. Had not the Dukes of Burgundy managed to acquire overlordship of the seventeen provinces at the mouths of the Meuse and the Rhine, Burgundy would be nowhere. And the great days of the Burgundian court came to an end with the death of Charles the Rash…


Originally published at www.bradford-delong.com.