Our French Roots
The tradition of assembling wise men and leading citizens into councils ( conseils ) to make important decisions for the good of the commune goes back in France to the Middle Ages. The debates in council, enriched by the differing points of view expressed, thus became a unique tool of reflection and decision.
This principle inspired the formation of the Grand Conseil du Vin de Bordeaux (GCVB): in 1952 Henri Martin, a key figure in the Bordeaux wine industry and then President of the powerful Conseil Interprofessionel du Vin de Bordeaux, had the idea of gathering the various regional brotherhoods (Confrèreries , Compagnons du Bon Temps , etc.) and other organizations promoting Bordeaux wines into a new and separate entity. Each of these 16 brotherhoods was an association of wine growers and traders that undertook to maintain local tradition, to defend and promote its wines, and to communicate their own winemaking principles.
The feat that Monsieur Martin accomplished was to stitch together these independent brotherhoods into a new entity called the Grand Conseil du Vin de Bordeaux (GCVB). Completing this federation took time, but in 1975 the GCVB became a non-profit organization under French law with the authority to represent all the appellations of the various Bordeaux wine-producing regions without distinction, both in France and abroad.
The current President of the GCVB is Francis Boutémy who also serves as Grand Maître for the Commanderie de Bordeaux worldwide.
Commanderie de Bordeaux - USA
The Commanderie de Bordeaux aux États-Unis d'Amérique was organized in 1957 by a small group of lovers of Bordeaux wines and became a New York corporation in 1959. Since, it has grown to include 33 chapters and some 1200 members located in different cities around the United States. It is also affiliated with a worldwide network of 82 Commanderies in 26 countries under the overall patronage of the Bordeaux-based Grand Conseil du Vin de Bordeaux (GCVB).
The members ("Commandeurs") of these chapters get together periodically for luncheons and dinners (called "parlements" from the French verb "parler", to talk) and other events in order to enjoy, discuss and learn more about the wines of the various Bordeaux regions and their different vintages. Through their passion for these wines, the Commandeurs become emissaries of the Bordeaux winemakers to their localities, with the goal of broadening the appreciation of the wines of Bordeaux in the US.
The Boston Chapter of the Commanderie has 50 members, who are dedicated to the appreciation of fine wines from Bordeaux. Our cellar has approximately 5000 bottles of outstanding Bordeaux wines, that are enjoyed by our members and guests at events throughout the year.
All the regional brotherhoods in France have their special regalia. GCVB is no exception and the medallion we wear is part of this regalia. The shape of the shield represents a glass of red Bordeaux wine.
The fleur de lis (the historic symbol of France) in the top segment symbolizes the bouquet of the wine. Below, each of the letters “GCB” is bordered by a crescent moon, recalling the fact that the all-important port of Bordeaux was once known as the Harbor of the Moon.
The golden leopard is the emblem of the historic province of Aquitaine, in which Bordeaux lies. This is the result of the marriage between the dynamic and powerful Eléanore d’Aquitaine and Henri de Plantagenet, who subsequently became King Henry II of England in 1154.
Lastly, the bunch of grapes at the bottom of the emblem denotes the raison d’être of our organization.
“Bordeaux, toujours Bordeaux”
The Official Song of the Grand Conseil de Bordeaux
In 1996, the Grand Conseil de Bordeaux declared a contest for the composition of an anthem in praise of Bordeaux wine. Members, called “Commandeurs,” from around the world were encouraged to participate. Submissions came from Europe, French-speaking Canada, and the United States.
“Bordeaux, toujours Bordeaux” was composed by Eric E. Vogt, now Grand Maître of the Commanderie de Bordeaux aux États-Unis d'Amérique, and presented live at a gathering of the Grand Conseil de Bordeaux at Châteaux de Roquetaillade, June 25, 1998. Vogt’s anthem was declared a winner on the spot by the Grand Maître Jacques Hébrard, and Vogt was awarded “his weight in Bordeaux wine.” Fortunately the weigh-in occurred after dinner.
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Bordeaux, toujours Bordeaux