The Parable of the Winemaker’s Bible




The Bible has a fair amount to say about wine … so it’s perhaps not unusual that a French former rare winemaker and recent Quaker convert, is offering modern parables – the Banlieue Bible or a Bible for the Troubled Suburbs as his latest enterprise .

Eric Callcut cult winemaker turned teller of modern parables

Proverbs 31:6

6 – Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.”

In 1995 Eric Callcut (48 ) moved to the Loire, Anjou, as a winemaker producing wines that today have become a cult (the rare bottles still available are to be found at Camdeborde restaurant in Paris, at a Besançon wine cellar, or here and there in the hands of cagey and knowledgeable wine lovers).

The author Christian Authier has even devoted a short book to him “Callcut – Wine to remember,” writes Antonin Iommi-Amunategui, founder of Vindicateur.fr and author of the No Wine is Innocent Blog .

But suddenly in 1999 Eric Callcut disappeared notes Antonin I-A. Some say he went to India, others that he had moved to the very depths of the Ardèche.

In fact as it turned out he travelled to Israel in the footsteps of his close companion a dancer. There, he in turn took up dancing and later sold soaps and natural oils on the Beersheba market for two years.

But eventually he left Israel in “disagreement with its politics ” and returned to France, to Normandy indeed, where he now lives with Orit (the beautiful dancer) and their three children.  In the meantime he has become a Quaker, a “Christian without religion,” as he calls it — describing himself as an ” extremist for non- violence” — and took it upon himself to rewrite the Bible or rather parts of it in a version he has baptised “Banlieue Bible”.

“Banlieue Bible” is, says Callcut, designed to be read by those wearing sneakers or basketball trainers. It is a series of 50-page chapters, interpreting the New Testament al la sauce de 2013.

The first chapter Le Sermon sur la grande butte  or “The Sermon on the Mount (Great Hill)”  is now available, the second is expected around March.

“I have tried to imagine what Jesus would say to today’s commuters,” says the author. So the message is one of spirituality intermingled with Nikes, neons and iPhones: reframing age-old questions in new ways, as for example: “Do you want your life to be the size of the cosmos or the size of an iPhone? ‘

The idea he says, is to make the ancient texts especially accessible to younger generations from the Banlieue in a sort of “softcore Project X” thus: “Dive naked into the pool those who do not embrace the heart of schemers and gossipers! For they shall see the kingdom of God the Father’ is one of the reworked verses and one which traditionalists reading this might more easily recognise as: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.Matthew 5:8.

Here according to his publisher’s website is another example:

« C’est pourquoi je vous dis : Ne vous affolez pas !

Ni pour la bouffe ni pour la boisson ni pour les fringues.

Votre vie ne se réduit-elle qu’à ce que vous ingurgitez ?

Votre corps n’est-il qu’un support publicitaire pour Nike et Lee Cooper ?

Vous avez observé les oiseaux ? Les rouges-gorges, les mésanges, les hirondelles ?

Ils ne font pas métro-boulot-dodo. Ils n’ont pas de Livret A, de cartes bleues et de plans de retraite.

Et Dieu-de-la-terre-entière les nourrit.

Ne valez-vous pas plus qu’eux ? » –(Evangile de Matthieu, chapitre 6, versets 25-26) which in translation becomes:

” This is why I tell you: Do not panic!

Neither for food nor drink nor clothes.

Has your life been reduced to that which you ingest?

Has your body become a billboard for Nike and Lee Cooper?

Have you ever watched the birds? Robins, chickadees, swallows?

You don’t find them on a subway-work-sleep treadmill. They have no Livret A, credit card or pension plan.

And yet God-of-all the-earth-ensures they are fed.

Are you not better than they? – Matthew 6:25-34.

(Again for traditionalists this in the King James Version – Matthew 6:25-34 – is rendered: “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”)

The publisher’s website adds:  Banlieue Bible – le Sermon sur la Grande Butte [Broché]  tries to imagine how Jesus or Paul or others would communicate with us now – while remaining as close as possible to the original text.

Just as his cult wines were unexpected and quirky so the winemaker admits his new Bible translation has at least one thing in common with them: “Some have said that mine were the best wines in the world, others that they were undrinkable. The same probably applies to my book … Protestants will be more open to it, Catholics less so. But it will mainly interest non-Christians, I think. People who know the Bible and know Jesus, will not necessarily like my version.”

Indeed bringing his version bang up to date  Eric Callcut makes an allusion to Christ’s anger at the money-changers in the temple with this: “You cannot belong to God’s band and also be in the Wall Street band… Jesus today would be among those peacefully occupying Wall Street, indeed might we not find that in 2013 Jesus might even be a revolutionary hacker”.

Meanwhile life goes on for other wine makers.

The wine glass you nibble between sips: Among those who remain tethered to the vine as it were, continual innovation is the name of the game. Down in the Cahors valley the local wine-producers suggest that their black wine mixes so well with dark chocolate that it should be drunk from a chocolate wine goblet.

The nibble while you tipple wine goblet from Cahors

Here is a video clip of a Cahors wine tasting featuring the tasty chocolate goblet (You can find it here on You tube )

The Cahors wine producers dreamt up the marketing idea of a wine goblet made from dark chocolate which imbibers can nibble between sips.

Based as it is on the Malbec grape le vin de Cahors sometimes called “black wine” – is said to pair very well with dark chocolate.

The chocolate goblets sell for 10 euros each, are designed and marketed in limited series and  can be found at Lilu,  27 rue Nationale in Cahors in the Lot (46). But be warned they are something of a rarity being made only on a small scale. The chocolate goblet follows a successful revamp of the distinctive Cahors goblet launched in 2008 by the Union Interprofessional de Vin de Cahors  (UIVC) which to date has sold 133,000 glasses.

Now UIVC is punting its limited chocolate edition recommended for use in tasting Cahors “high end intense and complex wines”. This is the first marketing of wine, that comes with a glass you are supposed to “nibble between sips”, said Jeremy Arnaud, marketing director of UIVC. Asked about the link to chocolate he said Cahors wines offer a “velvety thick complexity thanks to the development of supple tannins particularly after wines at the high quality end have been laid down for a number of years and this pairs well with dark chocolate”.

Story: Ken Pottinger
editorial@french-news-online.com

 

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