Château Haut-Brion in London in the 17th century: Best drunk with salads…

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It wasn’t just Samuel Pepys who was drinking Château Haut-Brion in London in the 17th century and then writing about it in their diary.

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Born in 1620, John Evelyn was 13 years older than Pepys. He began keeping a diary as a student in 1640 and stopped writing in 1706, the year he died.

Portrait of John Evelyn by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1687

Evelyn was a prolific and spectacularly well-connected polymath who helped to plan the reconstruction of St Paul’s Cathedral. He briefly let his house in Deptford, southeast London, to Peter the Great and co-founded the Royal Society, while writing 30 books on subjects including politics, theology, and trees.

His 1699 book Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets is the first recorded book of salad recipes. More than 300 years before most people had heard of a plant-based diet, Evelyn was singing the praises of meat-free meals.

Although he might have occasionally been averse to meat, Evelyn was an enthusiastic wine drinker.

Like Pepys, he was a frequent visitor to the Rhenish Wine House in St. James’s, central London. And also like Pepys, he noted the excellence of what is now Château Haut-Brion.

On 13th July 1683, Evelyn wrote in his diary: “I had this day much discourse with Monsieur Pontaq, son to the famous and wise prime President of Bordeaux. This gentleman was owner of that excellent vignoble of Pontaq and O’Brien, from whence come the choicest of our Bordeaux wines… He spoke all languages, was very rich, had a handsome person, and was well bred, about forty-five years of age.”

Stay safe and well – and eat plenty of salad.

Stuart George | Founder & MD | Arden Fine Wines

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