Home > History of Wine > “not a drop of the wine so called was ever in the province of Burgundy”: An account of the wines from the cellar of Lord George Sackville during 1751

“not a drop of the wine so called was ever in the province of Burgundy”: An account of the wines from the cellar of Lord George Sackville during 1751

Lord George Germaine. 1780. [2]

Lord George Germaine. 1780. [2]

There is a treasure-trove of vinous details and accounts found in the papers published by the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts.  Today’s post comes from the papers of George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville (1716-1785).  It is true that this collection of manuscripts contain very few accounts of wine but this single major entry is all that is required.  In this letter the Primate, Dr. George Stone, Archbishop of Armagh, tastes through the wines sent to Lord George Sackville for the entertainment of the Duke of Dorset, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.  Dr. George Stones finds that all but the Chateau Margaux and Chateau Latour are “a vile infamous mixture”.

The Primate to Lord George Sackville.

1751, May 1 8. “From your lodgings at the Castle. I have tasted all the different wines & find to my great concern that there is nothing but the claret which can be made to answer any purpose. Of the two sorts of champagne, that sealed with yellow wax might go off at balls, if there were a better kind for select meetings. The red wax is too bad for an election dinner at Dover. The four parcels of Burgundy are almost equally bad. If there is any difference, that sealed with black wax and falsely and impudently called Vin de Beaune is the worst, and is indeed as bad as the worst tavern could afford ; but I am sure that no person will ever drink a second glass of either. I know how unhappy his Grace and you would be to see the tables so provided. What can be done I know not. You have been most scandalously abused, but I doubt his Grace will not think that a sufficient excuse for bad entertainment through a whole winter.  The claret called Chateau Margoux is excellently good ; the La Tour very good ; but the smallness of the bottles (though a trifling circumstance compared with the others) is so remarkable that I am very apt to conclude the whole business has been dishonestly transacted, and I am confident that not a drop of the wine so called was ever in the province of Burgundy. The melancholy operation of tasting was performed at my house yesterday. General Bragge, and eight or nine more, and most nearly related to the family, were present and agree to this sentence in the utmost extent. To prevent as far as I could any fancy or prejudice I slipt in a bottle of my own Burgundy, and they all cried out, ‘This will do.’ I would not have you persuaded that the fault is from want of keeping or from having been disturbed in the passage. If I have any knowledge, the wine is fundamentally bad. It is a vile infamous mixture and can never be better. The only security against its growing worse is that there is hardly room for it.”

[1] Report on the Manuscripts of Mrs. Stopford-Sackville, of Drayton House.  Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. 1904. URL: https://books.google.com/books?id=Uh4Vfn-FFekC&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[2] Lord George Germaine. 1780. LC-USZ62-45273. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division. URL: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003675592/

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