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by Fred McMillin
for July 1, 1997

B & G? Oui, Oui!


  • 1722—Thomas Barton, 27, sails from his home in Enniskillen, Ireland to Bordeaux, France.

  • 1725—Dubbed "French Tom" by the locals, he sets up a wine shipping business just north of Bordeaux. (Foreign wine merchants are not allowed to operate in the city.)

  • 1746—By now a major purchaser and shipper of wine, Thomas Barton acquires a French partner from Brittany, Daniel Guestier. However, the firm will not be named Barton and Guestier until 1802.

  • 1793—"French Tom" has been succeeded by his grandson, Hugh Barton. France declares war on Britain. Hugh and family flee to Ireland, where he markets the French wines Daniel Guestier continues to send him.

  • 1993—Exactly 200 years later, B & G introduces a new line of bargain-priced, varietal-labelled wines from the Midi region of southern France.
The Rest of the Story: Midi wines were once thought of as France's worst...but not today. Quality has been rising rapidly as varietal labelling fuels sales and investment in the latest equipment. My panel has been tasting the B & G products each year and finds them consistently good values. The most recent was their 1995 Chardonnay at a purse-pleasing $7.

1995 Chardonnay from southern France
Barton and Guestier
Headquarters at Blanquefort in Bordeaux
USA Contact—(707) 255-7667

Category: Recommended in its price range.

Postscript: Hugh Barton was not the only person of note to flee France during the Napoleonic upheavel. France's greatest gastronome, Brillat-Savarin, came to America, where he introduced a dish new to our country, scrambled eggs!

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf

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