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Posted: Thursday, 28 October 2021 08:56


Baroness Philippine de Rothschild: Aile D’Argent La Magique

Oct 28: Baroness Philippine de Rothschild was the majority shareholder of the First Growth family winery in Bordeaux- Chateau Mouton Rothschild, till she died in 2014, and carried on the legacy of her late father Baron Philippe after he died in 1988. John Salvi MW shares a poignant anecdote when he was once invited by the late Baroness for Lunch

A number of years ago I was honoured to be invited to lunch at Château Mouton Rothschild by the Baroness Philippine de Rothschild.  For some reason she considered that her guests were important and served us both the 1961 and the 1945 Château Mouton Rothschild. (There is usually a debate whether 1961 or 1945 was the Best Bordeaux red wine vintage of the 20th century-editor)

However, this tale is not to vaunt the fine wines I have drunk, but something that I consider much more important, extremely precious and deeply moving.

After being arrested in Algeria by the Vichy Government (The authoritarian and antisemitic Government in France during World War II), and released in 1941, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Philippine’s father, joined the Free French Forces in London.  In 1944 the German Gestapo entered their Paris home and arrested his wife, Elisabeth. She was deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp, where her life ended.  They did not take Philippine, who was 11 years old at the time, as it is said that either her staff hid her or had taken her away.

When she was just over 5 years old her father authored a book for her.  It was a book of fairy stories in which both she and her father were involved.  He called it, “Aile D’Argent La Magique.”  (French for Silver Spoon Magic). During lunch, the Baroness and I were talking about the war when Philippine suddenly got up, went out of the room for a few minutes and returned with a book.

“This was the book he wrote. Take it and read it,” she said, “it will interest you.” I was overwhelmed.  When I got home and looked at it closely, I was even more amazed.  The pages were uncut, and it was on LAID PAPER, published by Gallimard and illustrated by Eliane Bonabel.  A veritable treasure!

Underneath his original dedication, which he wrote in 1941, just after being released from prison and before going to London, he wrote in his handwriting:

“Today, September 1945, under our celebrating skies and after a long separation, the same father and the same little girl finally reunited, mourn.  She, whose presence illuminates each page of happiness contained in this book, did not return from the German concentration camps.  Never again will we hear her reply when our little girl calls, Maman!”

John Salvi MW

"Aile d'Argent... Two unusual words, from the depths of time, links between the past and the present, between my father Baron Philippe de Rothschild and me. When I was a little girl, my father had indeed imagined for me a tale, whose heroine was a magical teapot. His adventures enchanted me and rocked my childhood. This teapot was called Aile d'Argent -by Philippine de Rothschild.

The Chateau produces a fine white wine label of Bordeaux Blanc- christened as Aile d'Argent. - editor


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