Paris, France —These are the experts, these are the men and women who make sure wines are as they should be, they take an oath before the Commercial Court of Paris and can be called in to lend their knowledge to the court, professional associations, inventories, national wine competitions and they participate in wine tastings. And they have been on the Parisian wine scene for 700 years now. Today their pocket-sized guide to the vintage years in all of France’s vineyards is a much sought after item and actually free. They have a rather complicated name which we shall try to explain to you for the La Compagnie des Courtiers Jurés Piqueurs de Vins de Paris is a guild that is still relied upon. La Compagnie des Courtiers Jurés Piqueurs de Vins de Paris can be translated as The Guild of the Sworn Intermediary Wine Tasters of Paris. But courtier can also be translated into the English word courtier which means someone who is a companion or accompanies a king or queen, which fits in right here because this venerable guild of wine experts was founded circa 1322, the date of an order issued by King Charles IV of France, known as Charles the Fair and also the last in the line of the Capetian kings of France, marking their founding and stipulating that they could not be payed in kind with wine (in fact the guild’s 50 members are all volunteers today). Sixty years later in 1382, under the reign of Charles VI the word Sworn was added which gave them the right to carry a sword to defend their insolvent clients. And the king himself proclaimed them as his colleagues (courtiers).
Meanwhile in 1691 Louis XIV did away with all of the courtiers in France with the exception of those of Paris which at the time was the biggest wine producing region of France in terms of quantity (we really don’t want to go into the quality). Napoleon Bonaparte would sign the decree setting up the La Compagnie des Courtiers-Gourmet Piqueurs de Vins de Paris. The Piqueurs part came from the practice at the time of using a small pick to make a hole in a barrel of wine to taste a sample. For ultimately the Compagnie was there to police the wine, to make sure nothing fishy was put into it, basically one of the first anti-fraud squads around town. Today they number 50 as Napoleon’s decree set out and swear an oath before the Commercial Court of Paris, also set out in the same decree. And today they continue their mission of seven centuries and also organize tastings and master classes. http://www.courtiersenvinsdeparis.org/
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette
Categories: Gourmet Fare
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