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.
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, Maître of Boston, 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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