Monday, November 14, 2011

The Donkey, St. Martin, and the Wine

A cluster of Chenin Blanc grapes

An old legend says that while Saint Martin was visiting a monastery, his donkey outside enjoyed itself eating grape vines in the nearby vineyard. When the monks perceived the destruction, they uttered loud cries believing the vineyard was ruined beyond redemption. But the grape vines recovered, and to the monks’ absolute amazement, the grapes that autumn produced a wine unlike anything they had ever produced before.

Today, 1,500 years later, Touraine wine-makers are still growing grapes where Saint Martin’s donkey regaled itself on the noble vines.

Bottle of Bachus d'Or from Touraine-Amboise, Loire Valley, France

Tradition also dates the pruning of grape vines to these ravages by Saint Martin’s donkey. After pruning away the damage from the donkey's eating, results were so superior that vineyard owners widely adopted this practice.

A vineyard in the Loire Valley, France

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