Hitler, translation, corks, France, ID – sipped and spit

hitler-wine150SIPPED: Stalinist architecture in St. Emilion!
A bottle of wine allegedly in Hitler’s cellar at the Berghof sold for $900 at Alexander Autographs recently. The label might have raised some questions since has only St. Emilion, Frankreich (German for France) emblazoned on the front with no producer name, a vintage of 1934, and what a blog at the NY Times describes as a “Stalinist-style structure towering over the church.” Donald and Petie Kladstrup, co-authors of Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure, told the NYT blog that Hitler “occasionally drank wine, though he preferred beer.” What ever happened to his being a teetotaler?

SPIT: translation
A lot of wine descriptors could be interpreted as bedroom talk. But Jim Boyce writes about a case worthy of Engrish.com, a Chinese back label that cuts to the chase: “Yellow flowers and a beautiful apricot color with a strong musk. Rich texture with sweet f*ck in sweet orange peel and apricot flavor at the end of a clean. Drink now.”

SPIT: Champagne corks
Champagne, perhaps the last regional holdout (ex-Portugal) from the assault of screwcaps, now has The Maestro. Although we mentioned it previously, details are now out: The new closure, which hides a crown cap (think: beer) under a plastic cover and lever, will soon adorn select bottles of Duval-Leroy champagne. TIME says that it is “far easier to use than a conventional stopper— no struggling to hold the heavy bottle as you twist, no worrying that you’ll take someone’s eye out with the cork.” But, really, a lever doesn’t add to the bottle’s aesthetics–get a grip! [see video of the Maestro in action]

SPIT: wine
In France, consumption continues to fall. So do exports. “French households drank almost 10 percent less wine last year than in 2007, and exports by French vintners sank 15 percent by volume and almost 30 percent by value in the first quarter of 2009, the agriculture ministry reported.” [AP]

Equifax, a credit rating agency, is developing a service to strengthen online identities, which could be particularly useful to verifying the age of someone who wants to buy wine on the web. [Bits blog]

Photo: Alexander Autographs

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12 Responses to “Hitler, translation, corks, France, ID – sipped and spit”

  1. The new closure for Duval-Leroy is interesting, but I wonder how quickly this will be adopted by larger (read, more tradition-bound) houses. Additionally, is the lever secured to the neck? If it’s not, I could see a number of wine store accidents happening.

    Does the use of the crown cap remind you of Chandon’s Etoile? Perhaps American sparkling vintners will be early adopters…

  2. In re: the Hitler bottle…

    Said architecture does actually exists in St. Emilion, see the link here:


    So no real stalinist conspiracy there.

    The label does bear an importer name, which can be viewed much better here:


    From the same book you quoted, Wine and War (which is top five wine books in my opinion) we are informed that many french producers would label their wines for “export” so those in the know would avoid the garbage wine they supplied the Reich. I’d be inclined to say, if this bottle can be verified as authentic (we will see) that the anonymity would probably be a byproduct of that practice coupled with the alluded to practice of importers/negociants just buying anonymous or non-classifed juice and bottling for export/import/resale.

    Also of note is the fact that bottle sold for well under the estimate range of $1500-$2000.


  3. The Mionetto sparkling wines also have crown caps. I think they’re cute. And I’ve never seen one of those babies fly halfway across the room!

  4. Wow, Kasey, nice work!

  5. Well, even if it was Hitler’s, probably not something you’d want in your home and its certainly not a cellar-worthy bottle. Plus…chicks don’t dig Hitler so its not really a date conversation. Good story though…

  6. Does Godwin’s law apply to wine auctions?

  7. Thanx for the interesting post. Really enjoyed reading it. Keep up the good work

  8. As much as it takes away from the classic tradition of opening a bottle( and not to mention, the fantastic trick shots which you’ve featured on the blog before) this new champagne closure is pretty fascinating. Including a lever is clever design solution for the crown closure.

  9. Personally I don’t mind the crown cap on Champagne. They use it in the cellars before it gets shipped out and no more worries about TCA infected corked bottles. Works for me!

  10. Glad you discovered our vid on “maestro”.

    Fun to try it, but the only real test is if consumers will accept it or not. Don’t really see why they wouldn’t. A lot of people have difficulties with champagne corks, and it looks almost as nice.

    It does kill the market on eBay for the little metal caps under the muselet though.

    BTW: the Revver link was very slow. You can also see the video (and with Carol Duval Leroy herself, but in French) on YouTube:

  11. The “Frankreich” labeled St. Emilion is a odd duck indeed. It recalls my father’s experiences of raiding German and Austrian wine cellars during the Second World War. The Germans got real kinky with wine products during the height of their Third Reich phase, and turned out some things would have horrified the French or Italians. For example, he found bottles of a blue-tinted champagne that came in a blue bottle. What was that?

  12. I know that the new closure has been covered in an earlier piece, but I want to add here that I am still against it. It just seems tacky. And one thing I don’t want for the price of a bottle of champagne is tackiness. And yes, I know the cost of a corked bottle, but I haven’t seen Champ houses to be particularly prone to TCA, for whatever reasons. And as for the corks flying amuck we all know that this is not an issue at all if you open the bottle properly.

    As for the falling french exports from 07 to 08, the global economy is certainly a factor, I would imagine that champagne is a big part of the drop too.

    Lastly, I sincerely doubt that many minors are buying wine online, and if they are I probably don’t care, maybe they’ll develop some taste for the beverage as wine drinkers in Europe traditionally have, though gradual exposure to drink rather than as we do here though binge drinking whatever you can get. Really I see the whole underage online sales thing as a lie told by those who oppose open shipping because they either have a vested interest in a tiered distribution system or because they are religiously motivated teetotalers themselves. That said, I guess the stronger the online assurances of age become the less valid that excuse is, so I guess in that regard it is a good thing.


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