Thursday 9 January 2020

Pierre Galet 28 January 1921 – 30 or 31 December 2019.

Sadly, we have heard just now of the death of Pierre Galet reported as on either December 30th or 31st 2019. 

The Pope of Ampelography as he was sometimes called, Galet was indeed enough of a giant to be referred to by his surname only - like Shakespeare or Beethoven.

In his 98 years he wrote many books and articles on Ampelography but also on Vine Diseases and other aspects of the vine.

His greatest work was his 'Dictionnaire Encyclopedique des Cepages' first published in 2000 and is without doubt his life's work. 

As an achievement it can be compared to Diderot's Encyclopedie or Johnson's Dictionary. It has been described as 'un ouvrage fondamental et exhaustif.'

The amazing thing is that this great work, based on empirical observation of ampelographical meterial only has not been superceded by the discovery of DNA sequencing which became practicable not long before the publication of the Dictionnaire Encyclopedique.

20 years after the appearance of the Dictionnaire, Galet's methodical, empirical low-tech methodology of ampelography can still be used to distinguish between clones of the same grape variety, something that is not always possible to do with DNA sequencing.

Of course the Dictionnaire contains many more descriptions of grape varieties than 'Wine Grapes' because it is not restricted to varieties used in the commercial production of wine. It is therefore still an essential companion to be used together with 'Wine Grapes,' 'Native Wine Grapes of Italy' etc. It is also beautifully illustrated.

Copies of the 2015 reprint of Galet's 'Dictionnaire Encyclopedique des Cepages' are available from, Fnac etc at 99€.

What a great man!

 Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Pierre Galet. Could they perhaps have been related?