1949: it was a very good year!
Pommard is a very small wine region in the northeast corner of France. It is a commune in the 30 mile long escarpment known as the Cote d’Or, Burgundy’s most renowned wine area. The people live there with watchful eyes on the day by day accounting of world-wide wine sales.
The Pommard wines, all of which are not necessarily equal in quality every year, run the gambit from $3 whites to $100 reds. The basic rational for the wide price range is that every village is said to have its own character. Some areas consider their wines elegant, while others describe their vintages as sturdy and rustic. But whatever you like, the viticulture of this region is professional and spellbinding.
The card you see here comes from a collection that virtually illustrates the history of wine from a world-wide perspective. It is a real-photo of a 1940s era vintner who is seen sampling the 1949 vintage for residue sugars. The ’49 was the vintage of French wine that paid for the war-time losses. Most of the vintages from 1937 to 1946 were simply awful, but unknowingly those of the German military of the era, who fancied themselves wine-lovers, but in reality didn’t know a Merlot from his elbow, still requisitioned millions of bottles to satisfy their “official needs.” For some Frenchmen, it was hilarious – they were making money selling grape juice to the enemy, but it was bittersweet revenge for the French winemakers whose cellars were literally stolen by their enemy.
After the war, it was troublesome to own a winery, but when the 1949 vintage came to the tables, a decade of problems was resolved by that one great year – a hot, dry summer equaled a perfect vintage, capable of selling for record high prices. Worldwide the sales set records, some of which still stand.
Recently, I did a bit of Internet research to find if there was a 1949 bottle of Pommard still available for sale. It took a while but I did find such a treasure in the Sherry-Lehmann wine shop in New York City. It is a 1949 Reserve Des Caves De La Reine Pedauque for the princely sum of $679.
Oh well, I am not the connoisseur I would like to be, but I won’t be buying a wine to match my postcard.