Sunday, June 14, 2009

L'Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne

I am proud to tell you that last night I had the honor of being inducted as a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne. At the order's annual meeting in the sumptuous Palais de Tau in Reims, Commandeur de l'Ordre Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger of Champagne Taittinger waved his magic "pomponne" and welcomed me into the Chapitre de la Fleur de Vigne, one of the three official chapters of the organization. There were trumpets! Ceremony! Fanfare! Knights Who Say 'Ni'! (Wait, no, that was something else.)

The Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne traces its history to the 17th century, when a number of young aristocrats, most of whom were landowners in Champagne, formed a group to promote the wines of the region. According to Patrick Forbes in his outstanding book Champagne: The Wine, the Land and the People, the origin of the name dates from shortly after the coronation of Louis XIV in 1666, and can be attributed to the activities of three of the group's most prominent members, all renowned for their loyal devotion to the finest things vinous and gastronomic: the Marquis de Saint-Evremond, the Comte d'Olonne and the Marquis de Bois-Dauphin. Forbes writes:
Soon after the coronation they dined with the Bishop of Le Mans, and so horrified the old man with their fastidiousness in matters of food and wine that he went about Paris afterwards saying: "These gentlemen, in seeking refinement in everything, go to extremes: they can only eat Normandy veal; their partridges must come from Auvergne, and their rabbits from La Roche-sur-Yon; they are no less particular as regards fruit; and, as to wine, they can only drink that of the good coteaux of Aÿ, Hautvillers and Avenay." Their friends, who thought this a huge joke, started calling them the Trois Coteaux, and before long the whole group became known as the Ordre des Coteaux.

The group actually did a great deal to popularize the wines of Champagne at the time, playing an important role in the region's development, and they remained in existence until shortly before the Revolution. In 1956, a group of Champenois led by Roger Gaucher and François Taittinger revived the Ordre, and today it serves as the most visible and prestigious body of ambassadors of champagne worldwide. Prior to Pierre-Emmanuel's election as Commandeur in March of this year, Pierre Cheval of Champagne Gatinois held that office; previous Commandeurs have included such luminaries as Claude Taittinger, Bernard de Nonancourt and Christian de Billy. The Ordre also has a number of officers, including Didier Depond of Salon/Delamotte (pictured with me here), my sponsor in the order.

As a Chevalier, I am sworn to defend the cause of champagne and promote the appreciation of champagne in whatever way I can. I'm probably also expected to drink as much champagne as humanly possible. I think I can do that.

23 comments:

Christian Holthausen said...

bravo, peter !!! i'm glad they had the trumpets for you !!!

Dan said...

Congrat!!!!!!
I'm so jealous!!!

Dan said...

Jealous..... about being "expected" to drink much champagne.... lol

Samantha Dugan said...

You are awesome, congratulations!

David McDuff said...

Congrats indeed! Did the Knights bring you a shrubbery?

saignee said...

Congratulations Peter. I hoped they opened something to celebrate...

Marie said...

Congratulations!!!!
That's great!!!!!

Gabriel said...

Very cool. What does the medallion signify?

Jonathan said...

Now you're officially big time. A hearty congratulations to you Peter.

spume said...

Congrats Peter!

Perhaps you'll be asked to cut down the largest tree in the forest with a herring -- all in the name of Champagne of course.

- w

Al James said...

Well deserved Peter. Do you need a page or assistant or anything? I think Perry would allow me to take a sabbatical!

Henri Vasnier said...

A great honor to a deserving recipient. Wish we had been there. If you find you require assistance from time to time in meeting the Ordre's expectations regarding consumption of Champagne, please get in touch at your convenience :)

Peter Liem said...

Thanks, everyone! Naturally all of you are expected to help me carry out champagne-drinking duties anytime you are here in the region.

(Shrubberies, I think, are my responsibility to provide for the Ordre, and I should probably begin that search for the mightiest tree in the forest.)

the vlm said...

Congrats Peter!

Now if you can just use some of your newfound influence over Wenger!

I'll drink some Champagne (and even pretend like it is vin de terroir) in your honor!

Kristin said...

Congratulations. We will certainly continue the Champagne consumption out here for you!

Brooklynguy said...

Congrats! I hope you will not save the medal for special occasions, and will instead wear it everyday.

Joe said...

OK, all well and good, but what shoes did you wear?

SFJ

Hardy / Dirty said...

Awesome! Congrats on the honor!

Russ Margach said...

Felicitations, mon vieux ! C'est tout a fait excellent !

Daniel Prince said...

Most incredible news! Congrats on this highest of honors. Cheers!
...I am getting thirst just thinking of this!

Lyle Fass said...

Good job man. Very deserving.

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