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Cambridge University to celebrate Pepys’ first mention of Haut Brion

Magdalene College Cambridge is to hold a talk on 'Samuel Pepys and wine' to coincide with the 350th anniversary of the great diarist, and his mention of a 'particular' wine called Ho Bryan.

‘…drank a sort of French wine called Ho Bryan’: Samuel Pepys

On 10 April 1663 Pepys wrote, ‘Off to the Exchange with Sir J Cutler and Mr Grand to the Royall Oak Taverne in Lumbard Street… and there drank a sort of French wine called Ho Bryan, that hath a good and most particular taste that I never met with.’

Pepys was a dedicated wine drinker, keeping an extensive cellar of Tokaj, Madeira and Champagne, as well as claret, so he was well placed to comment on the taste of Haut-Brion.

He was also a graduate of Magdalene, and he bequeathed his library of 3,000 books and manuscripts to the college, where it is preserved as he left it in 1703.

The event is being organised by the Cambridge Wine Society, and will involve a talk given by Dr Jane Hughes, a Pepys specialist, looking at the many references to wines within his works, as well as examining other key documents of the period.

David Beall, president of the Cambridge University Wine Society, told Decanter.com that they also hope to be lent the original 1660 cellar book of King Charles II, currently held in the National Archives.

This has the first ever mention of Haut-Brion, with the chief officer of the king’s cellar paying a wine merchant Joseph Batailhe for 169 bottles of ‘Hobriono’, to be personally delivered for the king.

‘The records of Pepys and Charles II drinking Haut-Brion are the earliest in any language to an estate-named claret,’ says Alain Puginier, historian at Chateau Haut-Brion.

The event will be held on 9 April, in the Pepys Building at Magdalene, where the six volumes of the diary are kept; it will be limited to 100 guests.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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