Page images
PDF
EPUB

is doubtless the same, and as excellent, as that produced in the time of Pliny and Strabo.

Malmsey wine was originally produced in Napoli de Malvasia, in the Morea, and the word Malvasia has been corrupted into Malmsey. The overthrow of Morea by the Turks destroyed its manufacture. But the same kind of wine, and probably by the same process of manufacture, is still produced in Candia.

Malmsey, however, is a term now applied to every variety of sweet and luscious wine.

Italian Wines. We have no account of the cultivation of the vine in Italy until about six hundred years after the foundation of Rome. Subsequent to this period, there are ample directions in Roman history both for the culture of the grape and the manufacture of wine. In the early part of the Christian era the cultivation of the vine in Italy had become so prevalent as to lead to the general neglect of agriculture. In consequence of which Domitian issued an edict prohibiting the planting of any more vineyards. This continued in force about 200 years, until A.D. 280, when the celtivation of the vine was renewed with increased vigor, and it extended to the northern parts of Gaul, the banks of the Rhine, and to Great Britain. But in modern times, the manufacture of wine in Italy bas retrograded to the lowest possible degree, and none are now made except for home consumption. The vineyards are left pretty much to their natural growth, and the wine from them is prepared in such a slovenly manner as to be abominably ill-tasted and unwholesome. In the Papal States there is a little tolerably good wine, but it will not bear transportation and is not known elsewhere.

British Wines. In the early history of Great Britain the beauty and extent of the vineyards are much praised. Nevertheless, during the time the Romans held possession of the island they imported their wines. There was, however, some wine made in England, but the climate was so poorly adapted to the cultivation of the vine, that the domestic wine was never good nor plentiful. It could never be made to produce fruit with such ease as to effectually compete with the almost spontaneous production of the vine in the south of France, on which account wines could be imported into England at less cost than they could be produced.

It is, however, remarkable as well in France and Italy as in England that in the first cultivation of the vine, the best vineyards were usually attached to the monasteries and abbeys. This fact may be noted in France to this day; many of the best vineyards being on land which formerly belonged to the monasteries, and when these domains first passed into the hands of the people there was a manifest falling off in the assiduity and skill of their management.

English wine appears to have been pretty much like the Hebrew mesech. It was not only mixed wine but a mixture of various other things with a peculiarly harsh and stringent must. The manufacturers used a liquor which they called piments, it was esteemed very precious, and of this a portion was added according to the variety of wine to be produced. But there was a still more exquisite liquor called ypocrase which

prepared, when for lords, with wine, gynger, synamon, graynes, sugour, and turesoll; and when for comyn pepull, of wine, gynger, canell, long pepper, and clarified honey." Clarry was a similar mixture; and bishop, which is still used, made of wine, oranges, and sugar, appears to be a remnant of

[ocr errors]

was

the past.

The necessity of covering the rough taste of the must of English grapes, produced a taste for sweet wines. Consequently, the malmsies of Candia, and the sweet wines of Greece and Spain, were, previous to the time of Queen Elizabeth, in greatest request. Subsequent to this period the abundance of Spanish wine cultivated a taste for sack, a corruption of sec, signifying a dry wine. The original sack wine was very similar to sherry, but the term was extended in its application to the wines of Malaga, the Canaries, Malmsies, and other sweet wines; and the light wines of France, and of the Rbine, were extensively used.

Port. When the war broke out between England and France in 1689, the red wine of Portugal was for the first time imported into England.

Among the obstacles for procuring French wines, the British government imposed a discriminating duty, at first to the amount of £8 per tun, but eight years afterwards the amount was increased to £33, as a special blow aimed at the French, because Louis XIV., espoused the cause of the exiled family of Stuart.

But the English were fond of wine and speedily accommodated their tastes to their necessity, and subsequent treaties with Portugal giving her wines the advantage of those of other nations, so confirmed the English taste that, from that time to this, Port has been the favourite wine with Englishmen.

When the Portuguese first began to export wines to England, those usually sent, were from the vicinity of Lisbon. Indeed, previous to that time, there were very few vinyards in other parts of Portugal, and it was the English demand which led to their extension. As the demand increased, the cultivation of the vine was extended to the banks of the Douro, and British supercargoes settled there for the purpose of encouraging and profiting by the growing favor of the Portuguese wines. The wine from the new vinyards, however, was found to be interior to that of the old ones, and the demand from the old district continued unabated. Thus straitened in their undertaking, the English supercargoes settled in Oporto, adopted, and first taught the Portuguese the expedient of adulteration—in the use of brandy and elderberries—for the production of a strong red wine.

For the next hundred years adulteration prevailed to such an extent, as to occasion a decided falling off in the English preference of port; but in 1756 some English merchants who were setiled in Oporto, obtained a charter from the Portuguese government to sanction a joint stock company, with the avowed object of recovering the reputation of the Portuguese wines, by preventing adulteration, and protecting commerce. this

purpose, the charter granted to the Oporto Company a monopoly of all the territory, a district including Oporto on the river Douro, in which alone all wine intended for exportation was permitted to be raised. The only vinyards in this district at that time capable of producing good wine, were those belonging to the monasteries and gentry. But so well bad the company designed their plan, that they gained the absolute disposal of all wines produced by these vinyards, and had the power to fix the prices which they were to pay for them to the cultivator, or for home consumption, and likewise the price at which they were to be sold for exportation. By this means England obtained a complete monopoly of all the best wines produced by Portugal. This insidous charter had the effect of accomplishing the sinister object of those who conceived it, and also of

For

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

retarding instead of promoting the improvement of Portuguese wines. The proprietors of the vinyards ceased to exercise skill in their cultivation, and only strove to produce wine at the least expense, or took advantage of the company by mixing the most interior qualities of wine with the better, so as to reduce them to a barely acceptable standard for port. Notwithstanding this, the company being secured against competition, raised the price of wine for exportation to an enormous amount, and made princely fortunes.

The Oporto Company still exists, though many of their obnoxious features have been abolished. Meanwhile the duties on Portuguese and French wines have been equalized, and port wine has become a sort of uniform staudard liquor of a certain color, containing about 22 per cent of alcohol, and coloring matter according to the ingenuity of the perpetrator.

The best wines produced on the Douro at the present time, never pass through the Oporto Company's hands, and are scarcely known out of Portugal. They are of full mellow body, very mild, and of exquisite flavor. The very best is produced at Pezo da Regna, and when pure it has been compared to the finest of the Rhone growths of France, or the Cote Rotie.

There are also other varieties of Portuguese wines, which are excellent, and by some thought to be superior to any produced in the Oporto Company's district. Among which may be named those of Sunego and Mougaon. The vino tinto is a somewhat syrupy, blackish-red wine, seldom drunk alone, and chiefly used to deepen the color of other varieties. Bucelles is an excellent white wine, made in the vicinity of Lisbon. But like port, it is never exported without first adding brandy.

Lisbon wine, is usually so called on account of its place of shipment. There are two varieties of it, both sweet, the Carcavellos and Setuval, from the province of Estremadura.

There are in all about fifty varieties of wine made in Portugal, pone of them drunk pure elsewhere; while in the district of the Douro particularly all sorts are mixed, colored, strengthened, and flavored according to the particular brand required for exportation.

Madeira wines, were first taken to England from the West Indies, only about a century ago. But the vine was introduced into Madeira by the Portuguese soon after its first settlement, in the early part of the fifteenth century. Ever since that time, Madeira has been distinguished for producing sone of the finest wine in the world. This wine, however, is found to improve in a remarkable manner by a sea voyage, in a hot climate, a fact which was first discovered by its exportation to the West Indies.

In consequence of this, it is the custom in Madeira to improve every opportunity of giving their wines such a voyage, by which its value is much enbanced. The very best Madeira wines, however, are frequently matured on the island, by keeping them in warm upper rooms, and frequently agitating them, while much inferior wine is sold on the faith of a tropical sea voyage. It is durable and improves by age in every variety of climate

, but thought to keep best in wood, in warm roois instead of underground cellars. The Madeira wine proper is a strong wine, at best, notwithstanding it is always brandied before exportation.

Sercial is a red wine obtained from a grape much like the Madeira.
VOL. XXXVIII. NO. I.

4

When new it is disagreeably rough to the taste, but it improves by age, and is the finest variety of Madeira. There is, however, very little of it made--not over forty or fifty pipes a year. A very fine Malmsey is also produced in small quantity, from the same species of grape as the sercial. This is made from the grapes partially dried, by permitting them to hang on the vines a month longer.

The variety called tinta is, when new, a red astringent wine, somewhat resembling Burgundy. But if kept long it loses color, and acquires the taste of Madeira—for which it is sometimes brandied and exported.

Vino passado from the Azores, and Tenerife, also called Vidonia, from the Canary Isles, are similar to inferior Madeira wines. These islands also produce good Malmsey. All these were formerly much used in England, and called sack.

The Marzara and Marsala wines of Sicily, are mixtures of poor wine, worse brandy, and sundry other ingredients of equally bad properties.

African wines. The production of these has been much impeded by Mahommedanism. Yet there are few places in Northern Africa under the Jews, which prove the perfect adaptation of the country to the cultivation of the vine.

Cope wines have been produced for the last two hundred years. But thus far quantity seems to have been a much more desirable object with the manufacturer than quality.

As a general thing, Cape wines are very poor. There are, however, of late years, exceptions sufficient to justify the belief, that that country is in every way congenial to the finest culture of the vine, and the successful production of superior wines.

Constantia--so called from the name of the vinyards, is the best Cape wine which has been produced. There is of it two varieties, the white and the red.

Cope Madeira is made up of different qualities.

These are the usual varieties, after brandying, sent to England. They are acid, and about the same strength as—but inferior to— Teneriffe. X white wine, called Cape Hock, and a red one, called Rota, are the chief of still cheaper qualities.

Art. IV.-VENEZUELA.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE COUNTRY, WITH AN ENUMERATION OF ITS

PRODUCTIONS, STATISTICS OF ITS COMMERCE, AND A STATEMENT OF THE INDUCEMENTS FOR IMMIGRATION.

The Consul of Venezuela at New York recently prepared a circular for the purpose of readily affording information in regard to Venezuela, to those who having business with him frequently desire some account of its condition, and especially to those who may be proposing to emigrate to that country. Having furnished us with a copy of it (which he has printed for private distribution) with the view of presenting it to the public through the Merchants' Magazine, we have concluded to publish the more important portion of it. What is here given embraces the fore

part of the circular, without editorial change, excepting a rearrangement of the order of the topics treated. We have omitted the remainder, which consists of a statement of the proposed improvements by the government, (viz. the building of railroads in Venezuela, the establishment of lines of steamers to New York, etc.,) and several letters describing the “gold diggings," etc.

VENEZUELA, situated in the northern part of South America-bounded on the south by the Empire of Brazil; on the north, by the Atlantic Ocean; on the east, by the same, and by English Guayana, and on the west, by New Granada–is 287 leagues in length, by 223 in breadth ; being twice the extent of France. Its coast stretches from the east to the west, a distance of 522 leagues—260 of which have 32 harbors'and 71 islands in front.

RIVERS.—The territory of Venezuela is watered by many important rivers, such as the Orinoco, the Meta, the Caroni, the Caura, the Apure, the Casiquiare, the Guaviare, the Cojedes, the Portuguesa—navigable the year round, and by many others of second and third class, which fertilize and enrich the valleys and plains through which they flow on their course to the sea, where they empty themselves, rendering navigable almost the whole interior of the country. By the Orinoco, Venezuela has communication with New Granada, entering by the Meta up to Fusagasugá, which is distant two days' travel from Bogotá, the capital : by this immense river, which joins the river Negro by the branch of the Casiquiare, it bas communication with the Amazonas as high as the Pongo or rapids of Manseriche, in the province of Mainos, in the Republic of Ecuador; also, by the principal branch of this colossal artery as far as Chacas, a short distance from Lima, the capital of Peru; by another branch, with the city of Paz, capital of the Republic of Bolivia, and by its immense tributaries—the Tocatin, the Xinejú, the Tapajos, the Madeira and otherswith sundry interior provinces of the Empire of Brazil.

Soils.—The soil of Venezuela is of three different kinds-agricultural land, pasture land, and forest mountain land. The agricultural fields are confined to the sea-board provinces, cultivated only to a limited extent, for want of laborers, and leaving an area of land, which, it is no exaggeration to say, is a hundred-fold greater than that which is improved. The second kind of land lies in the interior, or center of Venezuela, called " Los Llanos," where are bred the horse, the mule, the ass, the bull, the cow, the goat-and quantities of birds, such as the duck, the heron, the pigeon, etc.—which are at once the food and delight of the inhabitants.. The third is situated in the chain of the Andes Mountains, which extend across the whole country, almost diagonally, and in the Parima ridges, which run along the frontier of Brazil, and enter New Granada at the southern boundaries of Venezuela.

CLIMATE.—Breezes froin the east, which are general, prevail during the day, and at night blow off the land. The temperature is warm on the coast, moderate in the interior, and cold on the heights. The thermometer (centigrade) on the coast is at 27 decrees 22 minutes; in the interior, at 21 degrees 67 minutes; and on the ridges of the mountains of Merida, on the average, at 9 degrees 5 minutes: there are thus all known climates from perpetual snow to the warm and ardent temperatures of Maracaibo, La Guayra, and Cumaná. The seasons of the year are two in numberwinter and summer; or rather, the dry and the rainy season. Summer,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »