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The Sunday Express

Published:  23 July, 2008

With the VE Day celebrations fresh in our minds, JONATHAN BRACEY-GIBBON reports on how French winemakers did their utmost to stop the onslaught of German weinfuhrers during WWII. He says: 'The French efforts to thwart the Nazis are reminiscent of the greatest tales of the Resistance.' For instance, a Parisian restaurant owner frantically built a wall to hide his finest 20,000 bottles; certain winemakers draped cobwebs over their cheaper wines to give the impression they were more desirable; and Nazi wine-transporting trains were successfully sabotaged. Bracey-Gibbon says that in time, many of the weinfuhrers realised that 'to plunder and pillage was self-defeating, and, for many, was an affront to their professional, rather than political, ethics'. In terms of vintages, he says that 1940 was a good year, 1941 and 1942 were fairly poor, 1943 was good, 1944 was average, but 1945 was 'the vintage of the century'.