The blending having been satisfactorily accomplished, the wine is stored in casks, never perfectly filled, yet with their bungholes tightly closed, and slowly continues its fermentation, eating up its sugar, purging itself, and letting fall its lees. Three months later it is fined. It is rarely kept in the wood for more than a year, though sometimes the superior qualities remain for a couple of years in cask. Occasionally it is even bottled in the spring following the vintage; still, as a rule, the bottling of sparkling saumur takes place during the ensuing summer months, when the temperature is at the highest as this insures to it a greater degree of effervescence. At the time of bottling its saccharine strength is raised to a given degree by the addition of the finest sugar-candy, and henceforward the wine is subjected to precisely the same treatment as is pursued with regard to champagne.
It is in a broad but sombre gallery of the more ancient vaults—the roughly-hewn walls of which are black from the combined action of alcohol and carbonic acid gas—that the processes of disgorging the wine of its sediment, adding the syrup, filling up the bottles with wine to replace that which gushes out when the disgorging operation is performed, together with the re-corking, stringing, and wiring of the bottles, are carried on. The one or two adjacent shafts impart very little light, but a couple of resplendent metal reflectors, which at a distance one might fancy to be some dragon's flaming eyes, combined with the lamps placed near the people at work, effectually illuminate the spot.
Another considerable manufacturer of sparkling saumur is M. Louis Duvau an, owner of the chteau of Varrains, in the village of the same name, at no great distance from the Coteau de Saumur. His cellars adjoin the chteau, a picturesque but somewhat neglected structure of the last century, with sculptured medallions in high relief above the lower windows, and florid vases surmounting the mansards in the roof. In front is a large rambling court shaded with acacia and lime trees, and surrounded by outbuildings, prominent among which is a picturesque dovecote, massive at the base as a martello tower, and having an elegant open stone lantern springing from its bell-shaped roof. The cellars are entered down a steep incline under a low stone arch, the masonry above which is overgrown with ivy in large clusters and straggling creeping plants. We soon come upon a deep recess to the right, wherein stands a unique cumbersome screw-press, needing ten or a dozen men to work the unwieldy capstan which sets the juice flowing from the crushed grapes into the adjacent shallow trough. On our left hand are a couple of ancient reservoirs, formed out of huge blocks of stone, with the entrance to a long vaulted cellar filled with wine in cask. We advance slowly in the uncertain light along a succession of gloomy galleries with moisture oozing from their blackened walls and roofs, picking our way between bottles of wine stacked in huge square piles and rows of casks ranged in tiers. Suddenly a broad flood of light shooting down a lofty shaft throws a Rembrandtish effect across a spacious and most melodramatic-looking cave, roughly hewn out of the rock, and towards which seven dimly-lighted galleries converge. On all sides a scene of bustling animation presents itself. From one gallery men keep arriving with baskets of wine ready for the disgorger; while along another bottles of wine duly dosed with syrup are being borne off to be decorated with metal foil and their distinctive labels. Groups of workmen are busily engaged disgorging, dosing, and re-corking the newly-arrived bottles of wine; corks fly out with a succession of loud reports suggestive of the irregular fire of a party of skirmishers; a fizzing, spurting, and spluttering of the wine next ensues, and is followed by the incessant clicking of the various apparatus employed in the corking and wiring of the bottles.
Gradual inclines conduct to the two lower tiers of galleries, for the cellars of M. Duvau consist of as many as three stories. Down below there is naturally less light, and the temperature, too, is sensibly colder. Advantage is taken of this latter circumstance to remove the newly-bottled wine to these lower vaults whenever an excessive development of carbonic acid threatens the bursting of an undue proportion of bottles, a casualty which among the Saumur sparkling wine manufacturers ranges far higher than with the manufacturers of champagne. For the economy of time and labour a lift, raised and lowered by means of a capstan worked by horses, is employed to transfer the bottles of wine from one tier of cellars to another.
The demand for sparkling saumur is evidently on the increase, for M. Duvau, at the time of our visit, was excavating extensive additional cellarage. The subsoil at Varrains being largely composed of marl, which is much softer than the tufa of the Saint-Florent coteau, necessitated the roofs of the new galleries being worked in a particular form in order to avoid having recourse to either brickwork or masonry. Tons of this excavated marl were being spread over the soil of M. Duvau's vineyard in the rear of the chteau, greatly, it was said, to the benefit of the vines, whose grapes were all of the black variety; indeed, scarcely any wine is vintaged from white grapes in the commune of Varrains.
At M. Duvau's we went through a complete scale of sparkling saumurs, commencing with the younger and less matured samples, and ascending step by step to wines a dozen and more years old. Every year seemed to produce an improvement in the wine, the older varieties gaining greatly in delicacy and softening very perceptibly in flavour.
Another sparkling saumur manufacturer of note is M. Alfred Rousteaux, to-day the sole proprietor of the well-known brand of Morlet and Rousteaux, a firm established for many years at Saint-Florent. M. Rousteaux's cellars here are excavated in the tufa cliff which rises behind the little suburban village, and are all on one level. The galleries, though somewhat winding and irregular, are broad and roomy, and in them about 400,000 bottles of wine undergoing the necessary treatment are piled up in stacks or placed sur pointe. The original firm had only been in existence a few years when they found that their Saint-Florent establishment was inadequate to the requirements of a largely-increasing business, and they started the branch establishment of La Perrire at Saint-Cyr, near Tours, but on the opposite bank of the Loire. Here are a handsome residence and gardens, a spacious court, and convenient celliers where the bottling of the wine is effected, together with extensive and well-constructed cellars in which a like quantity of wine to that contained in the cellars at Saint-Florent is stored. With his finer sparkling wines M. Rousteaux mixes a certain proportion of wine from the Champagne district, and thus secures a degree of lightness unattainable when the cuve is exclusively composed of Saumur vintages. At La Perrire M. Rousteaux has a vineyard of upwards of sixty acres, yielding the best wine of the district, which is noted, by the way, for its excellent growths. Hereabouts a succession of vineyard slopes stretch from one to another of the many historic chteaux along this portion of the Loire, the romantic associations of which render the Touraine one of the most interesting provinces of France. Near Tours besides the vineyards of Saint-Cyr are those of Jou and Saint-Avertin; the two last situate on the opposite bank of the Cher, where the little town of Jou, perched on the summit of a hill in the midst of vineyards, looks over a vast plain known by the country people as the Landes de Charlemagne, the scene, according to local tradition, of Charles Martel's great victory over the Saracens. The Saint-Avertin vineyards extend towards the east, stretching almost to the forest of Laray, on the borders of the Cher, where Paul Louis Courier, the famous vigneron pamphleteer of the Restoration, noted alike for his raillery, wit, and satire, fell beneath the balls of an assassin. A noticeable cr in the neighbourhood of Tours is that of Cinq Mars, the ruined chteau of which survives as a memorial of the vengeance of Cardinal Richelieu, who, after having sent its owner to the scaffold, commanded its massive walls and towers to be razed " hauteur d'infamie" as we see them now.
Finding that sparkling wines were being made in most of the wine-producing districts of France, where the growths were sufficiently light and of the requisite quality, Messrs. E. Normandin and Co. conceived the idea of laying the famous Bordeaux district under contribution for a similar purpose, and, aided by a staff of experienced workmen from Epernay, they have succeeded in producing a sparkling sauternes. Sauternes, as is well known, is one of the finest of white wines, soft, delicate, and of beautiful flavour, and its transformation into a sparkling wine has been very successfully accomplished. Messrs. Normandin's head-quarters are in the thriving little town of Chteauneuf, in the pleasant valley of the Charente, and within fifteen miles of Angoulme, a famous old French town, encompassed by ancient ramparts and crumbling corner towers, and which, dominated by the lofty belfry of its restored semi-Byzantine cathedral, rising in a series of open arcades, spreads itself picturesquely out along a precipitous height, watered at its base by the rivers Anguienne and Charente. Between Angoulme and Chteauneuf vineyard plots dotted over with walnut trees, or simple rows of vines divided by strips of ripening maize, and broken up at intervals by bright green pastures, line both banks of the river Charente. The surrounding country is undulating and picturesque. Poplars and elms fringe the roadsides, divide the larger fields and vineyards, and screen the cosy-looking red-roofed farmhouses, which present to the eyes of the passing tourist a succession of pictures of quiet rural prosperity.
Chteauneuf communicates with the Sauternes district by rail, so that supplies of wine from there are readily obtainable. Vin de Colombar—a famous white growth which English and Dutch cruisers used to ascend the Charente to obtain cargoes of when the Jerez wines were shut out from England by the Spanish War of Succession—vintaged principally at Montignac-le-Coq, also enters largely into Messrs. Normandin and Co.'s sparkling sauternes cuve. This colombar grape is simply the semillon—one of the leading varieties of the Sauternes district—transported to the Charente. The remarkably cool cellars where the firm store their wine, whether in wood or bottle, have been formed from some vast subterranean galleries whence centuries ago stone was quarried, and which are situated about a quarter of an hour's drive from Chteauneuf, in the midst of vineyards and cornfields. The wine is invariably bottled in a cellier at the head establishment, but it is in these cellars where it goes through the course of careful treatment similar to that pursued with regard to champagne.
In order that the delicate flavour of the wine may be preserved the liqueur is prepared with the finest old sauternes, without any addition of spirit, and the dose is administered with the most improved modern appliance, constructed of silver, and provided with crystal taps. At the Concours Rgional d'Angoulme of 1877, the jury, after recording that they had satisfied themselves by the aid of a chemical analysis that the samples of sparkling sauternes submitted to their judgment were free from any foreign ingredient, awarded to Messrs. Normandin and Co. the only gold medal given in the Group of Alimentary Products.
Encouraged, no doubt, by the success obtained by Messrs. Normandin and Co. with their sparkling sauternes, the house of Lermat-Robert and Co., of Bordeaux, have recently introduced a sparkling barsac, samples of which were submitted to the jury at the Paris Exhibition of 1878.
XIV.—THE SPARKLING WINES OF BURGUNDY AND THE JURA.
Sparkling Wines of the Cte d'Or at the Paris Exhibition— Chambertin, Romane, and Vougeot— Burgundy Wines and Vines formerly the Presents of Princes— Vintaging Sparkling Burgundies— Their After-Treatment in the Cellars— Excess of Breakage— Similarity of Proceeding to that followed in the Champagne— Principal Manufacturers of Sparkling Burgundies— Sparkling Wines of Tonnerre, the birthplace of the Chevalier d'Eon— The Vin d'Arbanne of Bar-sur-Aube— Death there of the Bastard de Bourbon— Madame de la Motte's Ostentatious Display and Arrest there— Sparkling Wines of the Beaujolais— The Mont-Brouilly Vineyards— Ancient Reputation of the Wines of the Jura— The Vin Jaune of Arbois beloved of Henri Quatre— Rhymes by him in its Honour— Lons-le-Saulnier— Vineyards yielding the Sparkling Jura Wines— Their Vintaging and Subsequent Treatment— Their High Alcoholic Strength and General Drawbacks.
Sparkling wines are made to a considerable extent in Burgundy, notably at Beaune, Nuits, and Dijon, and though as a rule heavier and more potent than the subtile and delicate-flavoured wines of the Marne, still some of the higher qualities, both of the red and white varieties, exhibit a degree of refinement which those familiar only with the commoner kinds can scarcely form an idea of. At the Paris Exhibition of 1878 we tasted, among a large collection of the sparkling wines of the Cte d'Or, samples of Chambertin, Romane, and Vougeot of the highest order. Although red wines, they had the merit of being deficient in that body which forms such an objectionable feature in sparkling wines of a deep shade of colour. M. Regnier, the exhibitor of sparkling red vougeot, sent, moreover, a white sparkling wine from the species of grape known locally as the clos blanc de Vougeot. These wines, as well as the Chambertin, came from the Cte de Nuits, the growths of which are generally considered of too vigorous a type for successful conversion into sparkling wine, preference being usually given to the produce of the Cte de Beaune. Among the sparkling burgundies from the last-named district were samples from Savigny, Chassagne, and Meursault, all famous for their fine white wines.
Burgundy ranks as one of the oldest viticultural regions of Central Europe, and for centuries its wines have been held in the highest renown. In the Middle Ages both the wines and vines of this favoured province passed as presents from one royal personage to another, just as grand cordons are exchanged between them now-a-days. The fabrication of sparkling wine, however, dates no further back than some sixty years or so. The system of procedure is much the same as in the Champagne, and, as there, the wine is mainly the produce of the pineau noir and pineau blanc varieties of grape. At the vintage, in order to avoid bruising the ripened fruit and to guard against premature fermentation, the grapes are conveyed to the pressoirs in baskets instead of the large oval vats termed balonges, common to the district. They are placed beneath the press as soon as possible, and for superior sparkling wines only the juice resulting from the first pressure and known as the mre goutte, or mother drop, is employed. For the ordinary wines that expressed at the second squeezing of the fruit is mingled with the other. The must is at once run off into casks which have been previously sulphured to check, in a measure, the ardour of the first fermentation and lighten the colour of the newly-made wine. Towards the end of October, when this first fermentation is over, the wine is removed to the cellars, or to some other cool place, and in December it is racked into other casks. In the April following it is again racked to insure its being perfectly clear at the epoch of bottling in the month of May. The sulphuring of the original casks having had the effect of slightly checking the fermentation and retaining a certain amount of saccharine in the wine, it is only on exceptional occasions that the latter is artificially sweetened previous to being bottled.
A fortnight after the tirage the wine commonly attains the stage known as grand mousseux, and by the end of September the breakage will have amounted to between 5 and 8 per cent., which necessitates the taking down the stacks of bottles and piling them up anew. The wine as a rule remains in the cellars for fully a couple of years from the time of bottling until it is shipped. Posing the bottles sur pointe, agitating them daily, together with the disgorging and liqueuring of the wine, is accomplished precisely as in the Champagne.
Among the principal manufacturers of sparkling burgundies are Messrs. Andr and Voillot, of Beaune, whose sparkling white Romane, Nuits, and Volnay are well and favourably known in England; M. Louis Latour, also of Beaune, and equally noted for his sparkling red Volnay, Nuits, and Chambertin, as for his sparkling white varieties; Messrs. Maire et fils, likewise of Beaune; M. Labour-Goutard and Messrs. Geisweiller et fils, of Nuits; Messrs. Marey and Liger-Belair, of Nuits and Vsne; and M. Regnier, of Dijon.
In the department of the Yonne—that is, in Lower Burgundy—sparkling wines somewhat alcoholic in character have been made for the last half-century at Tonnerre, where the Chevalier d'Eon, that enigma of his epoch, was born. The Tonnerre vineyards are of high antiquity, and for sparkling wines the produce of the black and white pineau and the white morillon varieties of grape is had recourse to. The vintaging is accomplished with great care, and only the juice which flows from the first pressure is employed. This is run off immediately into casks which are hermetically closed when the fermentation has subsided. The after-treatment of the wine is the same as in the Champagne. Sparkling wines are likewise made at Epineuil, a village in the neighbourhood of Tonnerre, and at Chablis, so famous for its white wines, about ten miles distant.
An effervescing wine known as the Vin d'Arbanne is made at Bar-sur-Aube, some fifty miles north-east of Tonnerre, on the borders of Burgundy, but actually in the province of Champagne, although far beyond the limits to which the famed viticultural district extends. It was at Bar-sur-Aube where the Bastard de Bourbon, chief of the sanguinary gang of corcheurs (flayers), was sewn up in a sack and flung over the parapet of the old stone bridge into the river beneath by order of Charles VII.; and here, too, Madame de la Motte, of Diamond Necklace notoriety, was married, and in after years made a parade of the ill-gotten wealth she had acquired by successfully fooling that infatuated libertine the Cardinal Prince de Rohan, until her ostentatious display was cut short by her arrest. This Vin d'Arbanne is produced from pineaux and white gamay grapes, which, after being gathered with care at the moment the dew falls, are forthwith pressed. The wine is left on its lees until the following February, when it is racked and fined, the bottling taking place when the moon is at the full in March.
Red and white sparkling wines are made to a small extent at Saint-Lager, in the Beaujolais, from wine vintaged in the Mont-Brouilly vineyards, one of the best known of the Beaujolais crs. Mont-Brouilly is a lofty hill near the village of Cercie, and is covered from base to summit on all its sides with vines of the gamay species, rarely trained at all, but left to trail along the ground at their own sweet will. At the vintage, as we witnessed it, men and women—young, middle-aged, and old—accompanied by troops of children, were roaming all over the slopes dexterously nipping off the bunches of grapes with their thumb and finger nails and flinging them into the little wooden tubs with which they were provided. The pressing of the grapes and the after-treatment of the wine destined to become sparkling are the same in the Beaujolais as in Upper and Lower Burgundy.
The red, straw, and yellow wines of the Jura have long had a high reputation in the East of France, and the vin jaune of Arbois, an ancient fortified town on the banks of the Cuisance, besieged and sacked in turn by Charles of Amboise, Henri IV., and Louis XIV., was one of the favourite beverages of the tippling Barnais who styled himself Seigneur of Ay and Gonesse, and who acquired his liking for it while sojourning during the siege of Arbois at the old Chteau des Arsures. In one of Henri Quatre's letters to his minister Sully we find him observing, "I send you two bottles of Vin d'Arbois, for I know you do not detest it." A couple of other bottles of the same wine are said to have cemented the king's reconciliation with Mayenne, the leader of the League, and the lover of La Belle Gabrielle is moreover credited with having composed at his mistress's table some doggrel rhymes in honour of the famous Jura cr:—
"Come, little page, serve us aright, The crown is often heavy to bear; So fill up my goblet large and light Whenever you find a vacancy there. This wine is surely no Christian wight, And yet you never complaint will hear That it's not baptised with water clear. Down my throat I pour The old Arbois; And now, my lords, let us our voices raise, And sing of Silenus and Bacchus the praise!"
In more modern times the Jura, not content with the fame of the historic yellow wines of Arbois and the deservedly-esteemed straw wines of Chteau-Chlon, has produced large quantities of sparkling wine, the original manufacture of which commenced as far back as a century ago. To-day the principal seats of the manufacture are at Arbois and Lons-le-Saulnier, the latter town the capital of the department and one of the most ancient towns of France. Originally founded by the Gauls on the banks of the Vallire, in a little valley bordered by lofty hills, which are to-day covered with vines, it was girded round with fortifications by the Romans. Subsequently the Huns and the Vandals pillaged it; then the French and the Burgundians repeatedly contested its possession, and it was only definitively acquired by France during the reign of Louis XIV. Rouget de l'Isle, the famous author of the "Marseillaise," was born at Lons-le-Saulnier, and here also Marshal Ney assembled and harangued his troops before marching to join Napoleon, whom he had promised Louis XVIII. to bring back to Paris in an iron cage.
The vineyards whence the principal supplies for these sparkling wines are derived are grouped at varying distances around Lons-le-Saulnier at L'Etoile, Quintigny, Salins, Arbois, St. Laurent-la-Roche, and Pupillin, with the Jura chain of mountains rising up grandly on the east. The best vineyards at L'Etoile—which lies some couple of miles from Lons-le-Saulnier, surrounded by hills, planted from base to summit with vines—are La Vigne Blanche, Montmorin, and Montgenest. At Quintigny, the wines of which are less potent than those of Arbois, and only retain their effervescent properties for a couple of years, the Paridis, Prmelan, and Montmorin vineyards are held in most repute, while at Pupillin, where a soft agreeable wine is vintaged, the principal vineyards are the Faille and the Clos. The vine cultivated for the production of sparkling wines are chiefly the savagnin, or white pineau, the melon of Poligny, and the poulsard, a black variety of grape held locally in much esteem.
At the vintage, which commences towards the end of October and lasts until the middle of the following month, all the rotten or unripe grapes are carefully set aside and the sound ones only submitted to the action of a screw-press. After the must has flowed for about half-an-hour the grapes are newly collected under the press and the screw again applied. The produce of this double operation is poured into a vat termed a sapine, where it remains until bubbles are seen escaping through the chapeau that forms on the surface of the liquid. The must is then drawn off—sometimes after being fined—into casks, which the majority of wine-growers previously impregnate with the fumes of sulphur. When in cask the wine is treated in one of two ways; either the casks are kept constantly filled to the bunghole, causing the foam which rises to the surface during the fermentation to flow over, and thereby leave the wine comparatively clear, or else the casks are not completely filled, in which case the wine requires to be racked several times before it is in a condition for fining. This latter operation is effected about the commencement of February, and a second fining follows if the first one fails to render the wine perfectly clear. At the tirage, which invariably takes place in April, the Jura wines rarely require any addition of sugar to insure an ample effervescence. After bottling they are treated in exactly the same manner as the vintages of the Marne are treated by the great champagne manufacturers. In addition to white sparkling wine a pink variety, with natural effervescent properties, is made by mixing with the savagnin and melon grapes a certain proportion of the poulsard species, from which the best red wines of the Jura are produced.
One of the principal sparkling wine establishments at Lons-le-Saulnier is that of M. Auguste Devaux, founded in the year 1860. He manufactures both sweet and dry wines, which are sold largely in France and elsewhere on the Continent, and have lately been introduced into England. Their alcoholic strength is equivalent to from 25 to 26 of proof spirit, being largely above the dry sparkling wines of the Champagne, which the Jura manufacturers regard as a positive advantage rather than an obvious drawback. M. Devaux's principal brand is the Fleur de l'Etoile, of which, he has white, pink, and amber-coloured varieties, quoted by him at merely three francs the bottle for the grand years.
Besides being too spirituous, the sparkling wines of the Jura are deficient in refinement and delicacy. The commoner kinds, indeed, frequently have a pronounced unpleasant flavour, due to the nature of the soil, to careless vinification, or to the inferior quality of liqueur with which the wines have been dosed. Out of some fifty samples of all ages and varieties which in my capacity of juror I tasted at the Paris Exhibition I cannot call to mind one that a real connoisseur of sparkling wines would care to admit to his table.
XV.—THE SPARKLING WINES OF THE SOUTH OF FRANCE.
Sparkling Wines of Auvergne, Guienne, Dauphin, and Languedoc— Sparkling Saint-Pray the Champagne of the South— Valence with its Reminiscences of Pius VI. and Napoleon I.— The "Horns of Crussol" on the Banks of the Rhne— Vintage Scene at Saint-Pray— The Vines and Vineyards Producing Sparkling Wine— Manipulation of Sparkling Saint-Pray— Its Abundance of Natural Sugar— The Cellars of M. de Saint-Prix and Samples of his Wines— Sparkling Cte-Rotie, Chteau-Grille, and Hermitage— Annual Production and Principal Markets of Sparkling Saint-Pray— Clairette de Die— The Porte Rouge of Die Cathedral— How the Die Wine is Made— The Sparkling White and Rose-Coloured Muscatels of Die— Sparkling Wines of Vercheny and Lagrasse— Barnave and the Royal Flight to Varennes— Narbonne formerly a Miniature Rome, now Noted merely for its Wine and Honey— Fte of the Black Virgin at Limoux— Preference given to the New Wine over the Miraculous Water— Blanquette of Limoux and How it is Made— Characteristics of this Overrated Wine.
Sparkling wines are made after a fashion in several of the southern provinces of France—in Auvergne, at Clermont-Ferrand, under the shadow of the lofty Puy de Dme; in Guienne, at Astaffort, the scene of a bloody engagement during the Wars of Religion in which the Protestant army was cut to pieces when about to cross the Garonne; at Nrac, where frail Marguerite de Valois kept her dissolute Court, and Catherine de Mdicis brought her flying squadron of fascinating maids of honour to gain over the Huguenot leaders to the Catholic cause; and at Cahors, the Divina, or divine fountain of the Celts, and the birthplace of Pope John XXII., of Clement Marot, the early French poet, and of Lon Gambetta; in Dauphin, at Die, Saint-Chef, Saint-Pray, and Largentire, so named after some abandoned silver mines, and where the vines are cultivated against low walls rising in a series of terraces from the base to the summit of the lofty hills; and in Languedoc, at Brioude, where St. Vincent, the patron saint of the vinedressers, suffered martyrdom, and where it is the practice to expose the must of the future sparkling wine for several nights to the dew in order to rid it of its reddish colour; also at Linardie, and, more southward still, at Limoux, whence comes the well-known effervescing Blanquette.
Principal among the foregoing is the excellent wine of Saint-Pray, commonly characterised as the champagne of the South of France. The Saint-Pray vineyards border the Rhne some ten miles below the Hermitage coteau—the vines of which are to-day well-nigh destroyed by the phylloxera—but are on the opposite bank of the river. Our visit to Saint-Pray was made from Valence, in which dull southern city we had loitered in order to glance at the vast Htel du Gouvernement—where octogenarian Pius VI., after being spirited away a prisoner from Rome and hurried over the Alps in a litter by order of the French Directory, drew his last breath while silently gazing across the rushing river at the view he so much admired—and to discover the house in the Grande Rue, numbered 4, in an attic of which history records that Napoleon I., when a sub-lieutenant of artillery in garrison at Valence, resided, and which he quitted owing three and a-half francs to his pastrycook.
We crossed the Rhne over one of its hundred flimsy suspension bridges, on the majority of which a notice warns you neither to smoke nor run, and were soon skirting the base of a lofty, bare, precipitous rock, with the "horns of Crussol," as the peasants term two tall pointed gables of a ruined feudal chteau, perched at the dizzy edge, and having a perpendicular fall of some five or six hundred feet below. The chteau, which formerly belonged to the Dukes of Uzs, recognised by virtue of the extent of their domains as premiers pairs de France, was not originally erected in close proximity to any such formidable precipice. The crag on which it stands had, it seems, been blasted from time to time for the sake of the stone, until on one unlucky occasion when too heavy a charge of powder was employed, the entire side of the rock, together with a considerable portion of the chteau itself, were sent flying into the air. The authorities, professing to regard what remained of the edifice as an historical monument of the Middle Ages, hereupon stepped in and prohibited the quarry being worked for the future.
Passing beneath the cliff, one wound round to the left and dived into a picturesque wooded dell at the entrance to a mountain pass, then crossed the rocky bed of a dried-up stream and drove along an avenue of mulberry-trees, which in a few minutes conducted us to Saint-Pray, where one found the vintage in full operation. Carts laden with tubs filled with white and purple grapes, around which wasps without number swarmed, were arriving from all points of the environs and crowding the narrow streets. Any quantity of grapes were seemingly to be had for the asking, for all the pretty girls in the place were gorging themselves with the luscious-looking fruit. In the coopers' yards bran-new casks were ranged in rows in readiness for the newly-made wine, and through open doorways, and in all manner of dim recesses, one caught sight of sturdy men energetically trampling the gushing grapes under their bare feet, and of huge creaking wine-presses reeking with the purple juice. It was chiefly common red wine, of an excellent flavour, however, that was being made in these nooks and corners, the sparkling white wine, known as Saint-Pray, being manufactured in larger establishments, and on more scientific principles. It is from a white species of grape known as the petite and grosse rousette—the same which yields the white Hermitage—that the champagne of the south is produced, and the vineyards where they are cultivated occupy all the more favourable slopes immediately outside the village, the most noted being the Coteau-Gaillard, Solignaes, Thioulet, and Hungary.
Although there is a close similarity between the manufacture of champagne and the effervescing wine of Saint-Pray, there are still one or two noteworthy variations. For a wine to be sparkling it is requisite that it should ferment in the bottle, a result obtained by bottling it while it contains a certain undeveloped proportion of alcohol and carbonic acid, represented by so much sugar, of which they are the component parts. This ingredient has frequently to be added to the Champagne wines to render them sparkling, but the wine of Saint-Pray in its natural state contains so much sugar that any addition would be deleterious. This excess of saccharine enables the manufacturer to dispense with some of the operations necessary to the fabrication of champagne, which, after fermenting in the cask, requires a second fermentation to be provoked in the bottle, whereas the Saint-Pray wine ferments only once, being bottled immediately it comes from the wine-press.
The deposit in the wine after being impelled towards the neck of the bottle is got rid of by following the same system as is pursued in the Champagne, but no liqueur whatever is subsequently added to the wine. On the other hand, it is a common practice to reduce the over-sweetness of sparkling Saint-Pray in years when the grapes are more than usually ripe by mixing with it some old dry white wine.
At Saint-Pray we visited the cellars of M. de Saint-Prix, one of the principal wine-growers of the district. The samples of effervescing wine which he produced for us to taste were of a pale golden colour, of a slightly nutty flavour, and with a decided suggestion of the spirituous essence known to be concentrated in the wine, one glass of which will go quite as far towards elevating a person as three glasses of champagne. Keeping the wine for a few years is said materially to improve its quality, to the sacrifice, however, of its effervescent properties. M. de Saint-Prix informed us that he manufactured every year a certain quantity of sparkling Cte-Rotie, Chteau-Grill, and Hermitage. The principal markets for the Saint-Pray sparkling wines—the production of which falls considerably short of a million bottles per annum—are England, Germany, Russia, Holland, and Belgium.
The other side of the Rhne is fruitful in minor sparkling wines, chief amongst which is the so-called Clairette de Die, made at the town of that name, a place of some splendour, as existing antiquities show, in the days of the Roman dominion in Gaul. Later on, Die was the scene of constant struggles for supremacy between its counts and bishops, one of the latter having been massacred by the populace in front of the cathedral doorway—ever since known by the sinister appellation of the Porte Rouge—and Catholics and Huguenots alike devastated the town in the troublesome times of the Reform. Clairette de Die is made principally from the blanquette or malvoisie variety of grape, which, after the stalks have been removed, is both trodden with the feet and pressed. The must is run off immediately into casks, and four-and-twenty hours later it is racked into other casks, a similar operation being performed every two or three days for the period of a couple of months, when the fermentation having subsided the wine is fined and usually bottled in the following March. Newly-made Clairette de Die is a sweet sparkling wine, but it loses its natural effervescence after a couple of years, unless it has been treated in the same manner as champagne, which is rarely the case. The wine enjoys a reputation altogether beyond its merits.
In addition to the well-known Clairette, some of the wine-growers of Die make sparkling white and rose-coloured muscatels of superior quality, which retain their effervescent properties for several years. A sparkling wine is also made some ten miles from Die, on the road to Saillans, in a district bounded on the one side by the waters of the Drme, and on the other by strange mountains with helmet-shaped crests. The centre of production is a locality called Vercheny, composed of several hamlets, one of which, named Le Temple, was the original home of the family of Barnave. The impressionable young deputy to the National Assembly formed one of the trio sent to bring back the French royal family from Varennes after their flight from Paris. It will be remembered how, under the influence of Marie Antoinette and Madame Elizabeth, Barnave became transformed during the journey into a faithful partisan of their unhappy cause, and that he eventually paid the penalty of his devotion with his life.
In the extreme south of France, and almost under the shadow of the Pyrenees, a sparkling wine of some repute is made at a place called Lagrasse, about five-and-twenty miles westward of Narbonne, the once-famous Mediterranean city, the maritime rival of Marseilles, and in its palmy days, prior to the Christian era, a miniature Rome, with its capitol, its curia, its decemvirs, its consuls, its prtors, its questors, its censors, and its ediles, and which boasted of being the birthplace of three Roman Emperors. To-day Narbonne has to content itself with the humble renown derived from its delicious honey and its characterless full-bodied red wines. Limoux, so celebrated for its Blanquette, lies a long way farther to the west, behind the Corbires range of mountains that join on to the Pyrenees, and the jagged peaks, deep barren gorges, and scarred sides of which have been witness of many a desperate struggle during the century and a half when they formed the boundary between France and Spain.
We arrived at Limoux just too late for the famous fte of the Black Virgin, which lasts three weeks, and attracts crowds of southern pilgrims to the chapel of Our Lady of Marseilles, perched on a little hill some short distance from the town, with a fountain half-way up it, whose water issues drop by drop, and has the credit of possessing unheard-of virtues. The majority of pilgrims, however, exhibit a decided preference for the new-made wine over the miraculous water, and for one-and-twenty days something like a carnival of inebriety prevails at Limoux.
Blanquette de Limoux derives its name from the species of grape it is produced from, and which we believe to be identical with the malvoisie, or malmsey. Its long-shaped berries grow in huge bunches, and dry readily on the stalks. The fruit is gathered as tenderly as possible, care being taken that it shall not be in the slightest degree bruised, after which it is spread out upon a floor to admit of the sugar it contains becoming perfect. The bad grapes having been carefully picked out, and the pips extracted from the remaining fruit, the latter is now trodden, when the must, after being filtered through a strainer, is placed in casks, where it remains fermenting for about a week, during which time any overflow is daily replenished by other must reserved for the purpose. The wine is again clarified and placed in fresh casks with the bungholes only lightly closed until all sensible fermentation has ceased, when they are securely fastened up. The bottling takes place in the month of March, and the wine is subsequently treated much after the same fashion as sparkling Saint-Pray, excepting that it is generally found necessary to repeat the operation of dgorgement three, if not as many as four times.
Blanquette de Limoux is a pale white wine, the saccharine properties of which have become completely transformed into carbonic acid gas and alcohol. It is, consequently, both dry and spirituous, deficient in delicacy, and altogether proves a great disappointment. At its best it may, perhaps, rank with sparkling Saint-Pray, but unquestionably not with any average champagne.
XVI.—THE SPARKLING WINES OF GERMANY.
Origin of Sparkling Hock and Moselle— Sparkling German Wines First Made on the Neckar— Heilbronn, and Gotz von Berlichingen of the Iron Hand— Lauteren of Mayence and Rambs of Trves turn their attention to Sparkling Wines— Change of late years in the Character of Sparkling Hocks and Moselles— Difference between them and Moussirender Rheinwein— Vintaging of Black and White Grapes for Sparkling Wine— The Treatment which German Sparkling Wines Undergo— Artificial Flavouring and Perfuming of Sparkling Moselles— Fine Natural Bouquet of High Class Sparkling Hocks— Impetus given to the Manufacture of German Sparkling Wines during the Franco-German War— Annual Production— Deinhard and Co.'s Splendid New Cellars at Coblenz— The Firm's Collection of Choice Rhine and Moselle Wines— Their Trade in German Sparkling Wines— Their Sources of Supply— The Vintaging and After-Treatment of their Wines— Characteristics of their Sparkling Hocks and Moselles.
The reader is by this time aware that sparkling wines are not indebted for their effervescent properties to any particular variety of vine or quality of soil, although some species of grapes yield a wine possessing a higher degree of effervescence than others. Any wine, in fact, can be rendered sparkling, although only wines of a certain lightness of body and which are at the same time delicate and clean to the taste—being devoid of anything approaching to a got de terroir—are really suited to the purpose. Given a wine containing sufficient saccharine, either natural or applied, and duly regulate its temperature, and it is easy enough to render it sparkling. The Germans discovered this long ago when they first transformed the acidulous wines of the Rhine into what we term sparkling hocks.
The rise of this industry dates from the epoch of the final downfall of Napoleon I., when the officers of the armies of occupation acquired more than a passing liking for the exhilarating products of Clicquot and Mot, carrying it, in fact, home with them, and so disseminating a taste for the sparkling wines of France throughout the North of Europe. In Germany the wealthy few only were able to indulge in it, and the consumption was for a long time exceedingly limited. When, however, after many years of peace, riches began to accumulate, some shrewd men set themselves to ascertain whether the German wines could not be rendered sparkling like the French. This was satisfactorily and speedily settled in the affirmative; but the great difficulty was to find the requisite capital for the large preliminary investment necessary to the establishment of a manufactory of sparkling wine on even a moderate scale, and from which no return could be counted on for the first three years. Eventually this was overcome; but the new wines, being in the first instance altogether different in character from champagne, found but little favour in the country of their production. It was different, however, in England, where they speedily succeeded in establishing themselves under the designations of sparkling hock and sparkling moselle, and from this time forward they have retained their position in the English market.
It is generally asserted that sparkling wines were first manufactured in Germany more than half a century ago from the inferior Neckar grape both at Esslingen and Heilbronn—the latter rendered memorable by the exploits of Gtz von Berlichingen, whose iron hand distributed blows which effectually "cured headache, toothache, and every other human malady." Subsequently, towards 1830, a former chef de cave at Madame Clicquot's establishment at Reims came to Herr Lauteren, of Mayence, and suggested to him to engage in the manufacture of sparkling Rhine wines, a proposal which the latter soon afterwards profited by; and eight years later Herr Rambs, of Trves, vineyard proprietor and wine-merchant, aided by a French cellarman, made the earliest attempt to manufacture sparkling moselles, their first trials in this direction resulting in a breakage amounting to fifty per cent.
For some years the great anxiety of manufacturers of sparkling hocks was to render their wines as much as possible like champagne, which was only to be accomplished by disguising their true flavour and dosing them largely with syrup. In this form they satisfied, and indeed still satisfy, their German and Russian consumers; but of late years England has set the example of a decided preference for the drier kinds of sparkling wines, the result being that the character of the wines destined for the English market has undergone a complete change.
Next to its sweetness the principal difference between German champagne, or Moussirender Rheinwein as it is usually called, for Continental consumption, and sparkling hocks designed for the English and other markets, consists in the former being made principally from black grapes, pressed immediately they are gathered and not allowed to ferment in their skins, while the latter are made almost exclusively from white grapes. The vineyards yielding the black grapes used for these sparkling wines are mainly situated at Ingelheim, midway between Bingen and Mayence, and in the Ahr valley, between Coblenz and Cologne. At the black grape vintage, which precedes the gathering of the white varieties by some three or four weeks, the fruit is conveyed to the press in high tubs, carried on men's backs, and holding about 40lbs. apiece. The old wooden presses are mostly employed, although of late small transportable presses with iron screws, and of French manufacture, are coming into use. In order that the wine may be pale in colour, the grapes, which, like those of the Champagne, are of the pineau variety, are pressed as soon as possible after the gathering; the pressure applied is, moreover, rapid and not too strong, and the must is separated forthwith from the skins and stalks. On the other hand, the white grapes used in the making of German sparkling wine, and which are almost exclusively of the far-famed riesling species, are treated precisely as when making still Rhine wine—that is, they are crushed in the vineyards by means of grape-mills, and afterwards pressed in the usual way. The must for sparkling wines, whether from black or white grapes, is run at once into casks to ferment. If possible it is conveyed in large casks known as stucks—immediately after the pressing, and before fermentation begins—to the manufacturer's cellars in town; but if this cannot be accomplished it remains in the cellars of the district until the first fermentation is over, which is in December or January. It is then racked off its lees, and the produce of black and white grapes is blended together, only a small proportion of the former entering into the composition of true sparkling hock, which should retain in a marked degree the subtile and fragrant perfume of the riesling grape.
The process pursued in the manufacture of sparkling hocks is the same as that followed with regard to champagnes. The quantity of grape sugar generated in these Northern German latitudes being far from large, both hocks and moselles invariably need a small addition of saccharine, previous to their being put into bottle, to insure the requisite effervescence, whereas in the Champagne the practice of adding sugar with this object is not the uniform rule. After the wine is bottled it remains in a cool cellar for eighteen months or a couple of years, being constantly shaken during this period, in the same way as champagne, in order to force the sediment to deposit itself near to the cork. By this time the added as well as the natural sugar contained in the wine has become converted into alcohol and carbonic acid; and after the sediment has been expelled from the bottle the operation of dosing, or flavouring, the wine takes place.
Sparkling hocks intended both for the German and Russian markets are frequently almost cloying in their sweetness, as much as one-fifth of syrup being often added to four-fifths of wine. The sparkling moselles, too, for Russia, and not unfrequently for England also, are largely dosed with the preparation of elder-flowers, which imparts to them their well-known muscatel flavour and perfume. The manufacturers say they are doing their best to abandon this absurd practice of artificially perfuming sparkling moselles; but many of their customers, and especially those in the English provinces, stipulate for the scented varieties, possibly from an erroneous belief in their superiority. Effervescing Rhine wines of the highest class have a marked and refined flavour, together with a very decided natural bouquet. Moreover, they retain their effervescent properties for a considerable time after being uncorked, and appear to the taste as light, if not precisely as delicate, as the finer champagnes, although in reality such is not the case; for all sparkling hocks possess greater body than even the heaviest champagnes, and cannot, therefore, be drunk with equal freedom.
Great impetus was given to the manufacture of German sparkling wines during the war of 1870, when the Champagne was in a measure closed to the outside world. At this epoch the less scrupulous manufacturers, instigated by dishonest speculators, boldly forged both the brands on the corks and the labels on the bottles of the great Reims and Epernay firms, and sent forth sparkling wines of their own production to the four quarters of the globe as veritable champagnes of the highest class. The respectable houses acted more honestly, and, as it turned out, with better policy, for by maintaining their own labels and brands they extended the market for their produce, causing German sparkling wines to be introduced under their true names into places where they had never penetrated before, the result being a considerable increase in the annual demand, even after the stores of the champagne manufacturers were again open to all the world.
Owing to this increased demand, and the deficient supply of suitable Rhine wines at a moderate price, the manufacturers of sparkling hocks are reduced to buy much of their raw wine at a distance, and are to-day large purchasers of the growths of the Palatinate, which are less delicate than the vintages of the Rheingau, besides being deficient in that fine aroma which distinguishes genuine hock. A leading manufacturer computes that between four-and-a-half and five million bottles of sparkling wine are made annually in Germany, where there are no fewer than fifty manufacturing establishments. The principal market is Great Britain, which consumes some two millions of bottles annually; a million bottles are drunk at home; while the remainder is divided among the North of Europe, the United States, India, Australia, China, and Japan. The cheapness of these wines is, no doubt, largely in their favour.
At Coblenz, the capital of Rhenish Prussia, and one of the strongest fortresses in the world, the so-called blue Moselle mingles its waters with those of the Rhine, and hence the original Roman name of Confluentia. With so favourable a situation it is not surprising that the city should be the abode of several important firms trading in the wines of the two rivers. At the head of these is the well-known house of Deinhard and Co., dealing extensively both in the magnificent still vintages of the Rheingau and the Moselle, and the higher-class sparkling wines of these districts. In the resident partner, Herr Julius Wegeler, I was pleased to meet again my courteous colleague of the Wine Jury of the Vienna Exhibition, and accompanied by him I went over their establishment on the Clemens Platz—one of the most perfect and admirably appointed in Germany. The firm was founded in 1798 by Herr F. Deinhard, who in 1806, when Coblenz was in the hands of the French, secured a ninety-nine years' lease of some cellars under an old convent at the low rental of 30 francs per annum, and to-day this curious document exists amongst the archives of the firm. Rents of wine-cellars were low enough in those days of uncertainty and peril, when commerce was at a standstill and Europe gazed panic-stricken on the course of warlike events; nevertheless, for such a trifle as 30 francs a year of course no very extensive entrept could have been rented. To-day Messrs. Deinhard's new cellars on the Clemens Platz alone cover an area of nearly 43,000 square feet, besides which they have several other vaults stored with wine in various quarters of the city, the whole giving employment to upwards of eighty workmen and a score of coopers. Their Clemens Platz establishment was only completed in the autumn of 1875, when it was formally inaugurated in presence of the Empress Augusta, who left behind her the following graceful memento of her visit:—
"In grateful attachment to Coblenz, in full appreciation of a work which does honour to the town and to the firm, I wish continued prosperity to both.
"German Empress and Queen of Prussia."
The proximity of the establishment to the Rhine did not allow of the cellars being excavated to a greater depth than 30 feet below the surface—a mere trifle when compared with the depth of many vaults in the Champagne. Any lower excavation, however, would have been attended with danger, and as it is, when the Rhine rose to an unusual height in March, 1876, the water percolated through the soil and inundated the lower cellars to a height of 5 feet. Above these vaults is a corresponding range of buildings of picturesque design and substantial construction, divided like the cellars into three aisles, each 210 feet in length and 23 feet broad. One of the arches of the faade looking on to the courtyard is decorated with a graceful and characteristic bas-relief, an engraving of which is subjoined.
The cellars, containing 1,400 stucks, as they are termed, of still wines—the stuck being equal to 1,500 bottles—present a striking appearance with their long vistas of vaulted arcades, admirably built of brick, and illuminated by innumerable gas jets, aided by powerful reflectors at the extremities of the three aisles. The capacious elliptical-headed casks, ranged side by side in uninterrupted sequence, contain the choicest German vintages, including the grand wines of the Rheingau—Johannisberger, Steinberger, Rudesheimer, Rauenthaler, and the like; the red growths of Assmannshausen and Walporzheim; Deidesheimers, with rare bouquets and of tender tonical flavour; Liebfrauenmilch, of flowery perfume; the finest Moselles from Josefshof and Scharzhofberg, Brauneberg and Berncastel, with other growths too numerous to mention, of grand years, and from the best situations.
The sparkling wines stored in separate vaults form to-day an important item in Messrs. Deinhard's business. In 1843 the firm made their first cuve, consisting of less than 10,000 bottles. Four years later their cuve amounted to over 50,000 bottles. A falling off was shown during the revolutionary epoch, and business only recovered its normal condition in 1851, since which time it has gradually increased as the wines have grown in favour, until in 1875 the tirage of 1874 vintage wines exceeded half a million bottles.
Messrs. Deinhard draw their supplies of wine from white grapes, for conversion into sparkling wines, from the Rhine, the Main, the Moselle, and the Palatinate, giving preference to the produce of the riesling grape, as to this the wine is indebted for its natural bouquet. The proportion of wine from black grapes, mingled with the other wines, is vintaged by themselves in the Ahr valley and at Ingelheim on the Rhine. The Ahr, in summer a rippling streamlet and in winter a rushing torrent, falls into the Rhine about twenty miles below Coblenz. The soil of the neighbouring hills seems peculiarly adapted for the growth of black grapes, one of the best of German red wines being produced in the vineyards adjacent to the village of Walporzheim. In order that the wine may be as pale as possible, the black grapes are pressed as soon after gathering as they can be, and only the juice resulting from the first pressure is reserved, the subsequently extracted must being sold to the small growers of the neighbourhood. The newly-made wine is brought in casks to Coblenz, and rests for eight weeks while completing its fermentation. It is then racked into stucks and double stucks, and is blended in casks of the latter capacity during the early part of the following year, great care being taken to preserve the bouquet of the white grapes, with which view, contrary to the practice followed in the Champagne, only a moderate proportion of wine from black grapes enters into the blend.
Next comes the fining, and four weeks afterwards the wine is newly racked. The bottling takes place during May or June, when any deficiency of natural saccharine in the wine is supplied by the addition of pure sugar-candy. At Messrs. Deinhard's the wine is bottled at a temperature of 72 Fahr., and the bottles remain resting on large stone tables until the fermentation is completed, and the saccharine is converted into alcohol and carbonic acid gas. This result is commonly obtained in ordinary hot weather in eight days' time, most of the breakage taking place during this interval. If on being tested with a manometer the wine should indicate too high a pressure, it is at once removed to a cool cellar, consequently the average total breakage rarely exceeds 2 per cent. The wine is now left quiet for at least a year, and if possible for two years, after which the bottles are placed on stands in the customary inverted position, and shaken daily for a period of six weeks, in order to dislodge the sediment and force it against the cork. German workmen are far less expert at this operation than their fellows in the Champagne, as few of the former can manage more than their four-and-twenty thousand bottles per diem. The disgorgement and liqueuring of the wine is accomplished at Messrs. Deinhard's and other German establishments in precisely the same fashion as is followed in the Champagne.
The dry sparkling hocks we tasted here had the real riesling flavour and the fine natural perfume common to this grape. In preparing them no attempt had been made to imitate champagne; but, on the other hand, every care had been taken to preserve the true hock character with its distinguishing freshness of taste combined with a lightness which wines containing liqueur in excess could never have exhibited. The sparkling moselles, too, depended not on any imparted muscatel flavour and perfume, but on their own natural bouquet and the flavour they derive from the schistous soil in which these wines are grown.
XVII.—THE SPARKLING WINES OF GERMANY (continued).
From Coblenz to Rdesheim— Ewald and Co.'s Establishment and its Pleasant Situation— Their Fine Vaulted Cellars and Convenient Accessories— Their Supplies of Wine drawn from the most favoured Localities— The Celebrated Vineyards of the Rheingau— Eltville and the extensive Establishment of Matheus Mller— His Vast Stocks of Still and Sparkling German Wines— The Vineyards laid under contribution for the latter— M. Mller's Sparkling Johannisberger, Champagne, and Red Sparkling Assmannshauser— The Site of Gutenberg's Birthplace at Mayence occupied by the Offices and Wine-cellars of Lauteren Sohn— The Sparkling Wine Establishment of the Firm, and their Fine Collection of Hocks and Moselles— The Hochheim Sparkling Wine Association— Foundation of the Establishment— Its Superior Sparkling Hocks and Moselles— The Sparkling Wine Establishments of Stock and Sons at Creuznach in the Nahe Valley, of Kessler and Co. at Esslingen, on the Neckar, and of M. Oppmann at Wurzburg— The Historic Cellars of the King of Bavaria beneath the Residenz— The Establishment of F. A. Siligmller.
Ascending the Rhine from Coblenz—past many an ancient ruined castle, past restored Stolzenfels, the historic Knigs-stuhl, the romantic Liebenstein and Sterrenberg, the legendary Lurlei, the tribute-exacting Pfalz, and the old town of Bacharach, famous in the Middle Ages for its wine mart—we eventually come to Lorch, where the Wisper brook flows into the Rhine, and the grand wine-producing district known as the Rheingau begins. A few miles higher up are the vineyards of Assmannshausen, dominated by the Niederwald, and yielding the finest red wine in all Germany. Then passing by Bishop Hatto's legendary tower we emerge from the gorge of the Rhine and soon reach Rdesheim, crouched at the foot of lofty terraced vineyards, which, according to doubtful tradition, were planted with Burgundy and Orleans vines by Charlemagne. Rdesheim, like other antiquated little Rhine-side towns, boasts its ancient castle with its own poetical legend, while many modern houses have sprung up there of late years, and signs of further development are apparent on all sides. In the outskirts of the town there are a couple of sparkling wine establishments, the one nigh the railway station on the western side belonging to Messrs. Dietrich and Co., while eastwards on a picturesque slope overlooking the Rhine, and in the midst of extensive pleasure-grounds, is the establishment of Messrs. Ewald and Co., who date from the year 1858, and rank to-day amongst the leading shippers of sparkling hocks and moselles to England.
Here are handsome and capacious buildings aboveground, and two floors of cellars comprising five vaults, each 160 feet in length and 30 feet broad. The lower vaults, 40 feet from the surface, are arched over and walled with stone, while the upper ones are faced with brick, both being floored with concrete and slanting towards the centre to allow of the wine from bottles that have burst running off. Each range of cellars is separately ventilated by shafts, generally kept open in winter and closed in the summer so as to maintain a temperature not exceeding 47 Fahr. in the lower cellars and under 52 in those above. Moreover, with the view of conducing to this result the cellars have an ice well communicating with them.
Late in the spring, when the newly-bottled wine indicates a sufficient number of atmospheres to insure a satisfactory effervescence, it is deposited in the lower vaults, the upper ones being devoted to reserve wines in wood and wines awaiting the process of disgorgement, or undergoing their daily shaking in order to force the deposit against the cork. Aboveground there are rooms for storing the liqueur, the corks, and the packing-cases, and in a spacious apartment, provided with three lifts for communicating with the cellars beneath, the wine is blended and bottled, and in due time disgorged and packed. In very warm weather, however, it is found preferable for the disgorging and its attendant operations to be performed in the cooler temperature of the cellars. Messrs. Ewald formerly tested the strength of their bottles with a manometer before using them, but for some time past they have given up the practice, feeling convinced that it was productive of more harm than good. Glass is an amorphous and unelastic substance which, although it will stand a high pressure once, often succumbs when put to a second test by the action of the fermenting wine. The firm calculate their annual breakage at from 2 to 3 per cent.
Messrs. Ewald being installed almost in the heart or the Rheingau can readily draw their supplies of wine from the most favoured localities. Johannisberg is within a few miles of Rdesheim, and in those years when, owing to the grapes not having thoroughly ripened, the wine is only of intermediate value as a still wine, it serves admirably for conversion into sparkling wine, retaining as it does its powerful bouquet. Ingelheim, too, noted for its vineyards of black grapes, whose produce is much sought after for blending with the finer sparkling Rhine wines, is only a few miles higher up the river, on the opposite bank. The drier varieties of sparkling hocks and moselles shipped by Messrs. Ewald to England have the merit of retaining all the fine flavour and natural perfume of the higher-class growths from which, as a rule, these wines are prepared.
Above Rdesheim the waters of the Rhine expand, the left bank of the river, if still lofty, is no longer precipitous, while the right continues almost flat so soon as the Rochusberg is left behind. Between here and Eltville all the more celebrated vineyards of the Rheingau are passed in rapid succession—Geisenheim-Rothenberg, Johannisberg, Steinberg, Marcobrunn, Kiedrich-Grafenberg, Rauenthal, and others. At Eltville—the former capital of the Rheingau, and where Gunther, of Schwarzburg, resigned his crown to Charles IV., and died poisoned, it is said, by his successful rival—we find one of the most extensive wine establishments in Germany, that of Matheus Mller, who enjoys a high reputation in England both for his still and sparkling hocks and moselles. His stock ordinarily consists of from 800 to 1,000 stuck—equivalent to a quarter of a million gallons—of still Rhine and Moselle wines, much of it of the best years, and from vineyards of repute, together with nearly a million bottles of sparkling wines stored in his cellars at Eltville and on the road to Erbach, the aggregate length of which is some 3,400 feet. The sparkling wines repose in long cool vaulted galleries similar to many cellars in the Champagne, while the still wines are stored in capacious subterranean halls each 100 yards in length.
For his higher-class sparkling hocks Herr Mller derives his principal supplies from the Rheingau, partly from his own vineyards at Eltville, Rauenthal, and Hattenheim, and partly by purchases at Erbach, Hallgarten, OEstrich, Winkel, Johannisberg, Geisenheim, and Rudesheim; while for his best sparkling moselles, Berncastel, Graach, Trves, and the Saar districts are laid under contribution. The Palatinate growths of Drkheim, Deidesheim, Mussbach, Haardt, Rhodt, &c., serve as the basis for the medium and cheaper sparkling hocks, and for sparkling moselles of a corresponding character such wines as Zeltinger, Rachtiger, Erdener, Aldegonder, Winninger, &c., are used. Ingelheim and Heidesheim furnish the wine from black grapes necessary in a subordinate degree to all sparkling hocks, and very freely had recourse to when it is desired to impart a champagne character to the wine, as is commonly the case when this is intended for consumption in Germany. Herr Mller invariably presses the black grapes himself, in order that the wine may be as light in colour as possible. As the house annually lays down large stocks of vin brut it is under no necessity of drawing upon them until they have attained the requisite maturity and developed all their finer qualities.
The dry sparkling hocks and moselles, such as are shipped by Herr Mller to England and its colonies, receive a large addition of liqueur when destined for the Russian market. His sparkling Johannisberger and high-class sparkling moselle from Rheingau and Moselle wines of superior vintages are of delicate flavour and great softness, and are frequently shipped without any liqueur whatever. Besides Moussirender Rheinwein of a champagne character, and largely consumed in Germany and Belgium, Herr Mller makes a veritable champagne from wine imported by him from the Champagne district. His shipments also include red sparkling Assmannshauser—the result of a blend of Assmannshauser, Ingelheimer, and other red Rhenish wines—aromatic and full-bodied, and dry or moderately sweet according to the country to which it is intended to be exported.
The trade in German sparkling wines has numerous representatives at Mayence—the sec of St. Boniface, the apostle of the Germans, and the birthplace of Gutenberg, whose fame is universal. The pioneer of printing was born in a house at the corner of the Emmerans and Pfandhaus gasse, the site of which is to-day occupied by the residence of three members of the firm of C. Lauteren Sohn, established at Mayence so far back as 1794, and one of the first in Germany to devote itself to the manufacture of sparkling wines. In 1830 the firm profited by an offer made to them by a cellarman who had been for many years in the service of Madame Clicquot at Reims. The Emmerans-gasse, where the chief establishment of the firm is situated, is in the older quarter of Mayence—in the midst of a network of intricate winding streets bordered by picturesque tall gabled houses and edifices of the Spanish type where ornamental oriel windows with quaint supports, medallions, and bas-reliefs of varied design continually catch the eye, and saints look down upon one from almost every corner. Passing under the gateway of the house where Gutenberg was born, and in the rear of which Lauteren Sohn have their offices, cooperage, and cellars for still wines, we notice on our left hand a tablet commemorating the birth of the inventor of printing in these terms:—
"Gensfleisch House. Family residence of the inventor of the art of printing, John Gensfleisch of Gutenberg, who in the year 1398 was here born. Christian Lauteren has dedicated on the site of the ancient house this memorial to the immortal inventor, Jan. 29, 1825."
Messrs. Lauteren's cellars for sparkling wines extend mainly under an old monastery, and comprise a succession of large vaulted galleries connected by narrow passages with arched entrances. Here are stacked some 800,000 bottles of wine in varying conditions of maturity. Messrs. Lauteren bottle their wines in August, instead of fully two months earlier according to the usual practice, in the belief that the system they pursue is more conducive to perfect effervescence, besides being attended with less breakage, owing to the newly-bottled wine escaping the heat of the summer. All the arrangements at this establishment are very complete. There is a place for everything, and everything is to be found in its place. Adjoining the courtyard, where new bottles are stacked beneath open ornamental sheds, are the tasting-room and the apartment where the operations of disgorging, dosing, and re-corking are performed. The liqueur added by the firm to their sparkling wines is kept in bottle from three to five years before being used. In the tasting-room we were shown a variety of sparkling hocks and moselles, the former with all the distinguishing characteristics of fine Rhine wine, the older samples having gained considerably in softness. A dry Cabinet specimen submitted to us exhibited a fine bouquet and much delicacy of flavour. The moselles we found particularly interesting, made as they were of genuine wines from some of the best vineyards of the Moselle district.
The largest German sparkling wine establishment is at Hochheim, which, although, situated on the banks of the Main, and several miles distant from its confluence with the Rhine, has curiously enough supplied us with a generic name under which we inconsistently class the entire produce of the Rhine vineyards. Behind the Hochheim railway station there rises a long low slope, planted from base to summit with vines, a portion of which are screened on the north by a plain-looking church and a weather-stained deanery. The vines thus sheltered yield the famous Dom Dechanei, the finest Hochheimer known. Some short distance off in a westerly direction are the extensive premises of the Hochheim Sparkling Wine Association, whose brands are well known in England. The firm of Burgeff and Co., whose business the association acquired in 1858 and subsequently considerably extended, was founded in 1837. At this establishment all the arrangements are of the most perfect character. The bottles are cleaned by a machine employing ten persons, and turning out several thousand bottles a day. All the bottles moreover, before being used, have their strength tested by an ingenious apparatus which subjects them to three or four times the pressure they are likely to undergo when filled with wine. Pumps, bottle-washing machine, and the revolving casks in which the sugar is dissolved for the liqueur, are all moved by steam, and the association even manufactures the gas used for lighting up the establishment. We tasted here several sparkling hocks distinguished by their high flavour and refinement, with sparkling moselles vintaged in the best localities and equally excellent in quality.
Sparkling hocks and moselles are made by Messrs. Stock and Sons at Creuznach, a favourite watering-place in the romantic Nahe valley, noted for the picturesque porphyry cliffs which occasionally rise precipitously at the river's edge. Creuznach, where a capital wine is vintaged, on the southern slopes of the Schlossberg, is at no great distance from Bingen. Messrs. Stock and Sons' establishment dates from 1862, and their sparkling wines are mainly made from white grapes, only about one-eighth of white wine from black grapes entering into their composition. The latter is vintaged at Ingelheim, the grapes being pressed under the firm's own superintendence, and only the must resulting from the first squeeze of the press being used. The wine from riesling grapes is usually from the Rhine, and with it is mingled a certain quantity of wine vintaged on the Hessian plain. The vintage generally occurs at the end of October, and the firm remove the new wine to their cellars at Creuznach early in the ensuing spring, and bottle it in the May or June following. They make both dry and sweet varieties of sparkling wines, and their principal markets are England, Germany, the East and West Indies, the United States, and Australia.
The establishment of G. C. Kessler and Co. at Esslingen—formerly one of the most important of the free imperial cities, and picturesquely situated on the Neckar—was founded as far back as 1826, and claims to be the oldest sparkling wine factory in Germany. The wine employed comes from vineyards in the vicinity of Heilbronn, and others in the Rheingau and the Grand Duchy of Baden, and is more or less a blend of the clevener, traminer, rulander, riesling, and elbling varieties of grape. The vintage takes place in October, and the bottling of the wine is effected during the following summer. Messrs. Kessler and Co. treat their wines after the system pursued at the Clicquot champagne establishment, in which the founder of the Esslingen house held an important position for a period of nearly twenty years. The wines are prepared sweet or dry according to the market they are destined for. The principal business of the firm is with Germany, but they also export to England, the United States, the East Indies, and Australia. Their wines have met with favourable recognition at various exhibitions, notably that of Paris in 1867, when a silver medal was awarded them; and at Vienna in 1873, where they received a medal for progress.
Wurzburg, one of the most antiquated and picturesque of German cities, is noted for its sparkling Franconian wines vintaged partly in the vineyards that overspread the tall chalk hills which close in around the quaint old university town. The most famous of these vineyards are the Leist and the Stein, the first-named sloping downward towards the Main from the foot of the picturesque Marienberg fort, which, perched on the summit of a commanding height, dominates the city and forms so conspicuous an object in all the views of it. The extensive buildings of the fort not only shield the vines from the winds, but reflect the sun's rays upon them, thereby materially conducing to the perfect ripening of the grapes at a much earlier period than is customary. The Stein vineyard is situated on the opposite side of the Main, and when viewed from the picturesque bridge, studded with incongruous colossal statues—such as Joseph and the Virgin Mary in close proximity to Charlemagne and Ppin—seems to rise up as an immense rampart behind the city. Here the river acts as a reflector, throwing back the sun's rays on the lower portions of the slope, where the finest wine is naturally vintaged. An altogether inferior growth is produced on the hill to the north, known as the Middle Stein, and also in the Harfe vineyard, situated in the rear of the latter. The prevalent vines in the Wrzburg district are the riesling, the traminer, the elbling, and the rulander, or pineau gris.
The first sparkling wine establishment at Wrzburg was founded in 1842 by Herr Oppmann, the Royal cellar-master, who died in 1866. The position held by this individual was one of considerable importance, for the King of Bavaria is the largest wine-grower in his own dominions, and stores the produce of his vineyards in the famous cellars extending beneath one of the wings of the deserted Residenz, erected at an epoch when Wrzburg was subject to episcopal rule. These cellars, vaulted in stone, are on a vast scale, and possibly unequalled in the world. You descend a broad flight of steps, flanked by ornamental iron balustrades, and encounter half-way down a miniature tun, guarded by the Bavarian lions posted in a niche in the wall. Following your guide with lighted candles, you pass between rows upon rows of capacious casks filled with the wine last vintaged, and various wines of recent years; large metal chandeliers—fantastically adorned with innumerable coloured bottles and glasses, and designed to light up the cellars on festive occasions—here and there descending from the arched roof. Eventually you arrive at a gallery where huge casks are poised on massive wooden frames in double tiers one above the other. These cellars are said to be capable of holding upwards of 500 casks, but at the time of our visit there were scarcely half that number, and only a mere fraction of these were filled with wine. The cellars no longer contain any of that archaic wine vintaged in 1546, for which they were formerly celebrated. Indeed, all the historic vintages, once their boast, were removed some years ago to Munich and deposited in the Royal cellars there. Of the ancient ornamental tuns holding their ten thousand gallons each, which the Wrzburg cellars formerly contained, only a single one remains, constructed in the year 1784. This tun, carved on the front with the Bavarian arms, is about the dimensions of a fair-sized apartment, and being no longer filled with wine, a Diogenes of the period might take up his abode in it with perfect comfort. Herr Michael Oppmann, who has succeeded to the establishment founded by his father, prepares several varieties of white sparkling Franconian wine, with two kinds of red, and also sparkling hocks and moselles. The first-named wines are vintaged in the best vineyards of Lower Franconia, in the valley of the Main, and the Baden Oberland, the finer qualities being principally produced from the black clevener grape, usually vintaged the first or second week in October. The white grape vintage occurs some fortnight or more later, and the wine is bottled either late in the spring or during the coming summer. Its after-manipulation differs in no respect from that pursued with reference to champagne. Herr Oppmann, whose wines have met with favourable recognition at various foreign and home Exhibitions, prepares both sweet and dry varieties. Their chief market is Germany, although they are exported in fair quantities to Belgium, England, and Northern Europe.
Another sparkling wine establishment was founded at Wrzburg by Herr F. A. Siligmuller in 1843. The wine from white grapes employed by him is vintaged partly in his own vineyards on the Stein and the Harfe, and partly in other Main vineyards, at Randersacker, Escheradorf, &c., the wine used by him from red grapes coming from the Baden Oberland around the so-called Kaisers-stuhl—an isolated vine-clad dolerite mountain bordering the Rhine, and on the verge almost of the Black Forest—and from the neighbourhood of Offenburg, one of the ancient imperial free towns, which has lately raised a statue to Sir Francis Drake, "the introducer," as the inscription says, "of the potato into Europe." The vintage here, which commences fully a fortnight earlier than around Wrzburg, usually takes place about the beginning of October, and the wine is bottled in the height of the following summer. Herr Siligmuller's wines, of which there are four qualities, were awarded a medal for progress at the Vienna Exhibition of 1873.
XVIII.—THE SPARKLING WINES OF AUSTRO-HUNGARY, SWITZERLAND, ITALY, SPAIN, RUSSIA, &c.
Sparkling Voslauer— The Sparkling Wine Manufactories of Graz— Establishment of Kleinoscheg Brothers— Vintaging and Treatment of Styrian Champagnes— Sparkling Red, Rose, and White Wines of Hungary— The Establishment of Hubert and Habermann at Pressburg— Sparkling Wines of Croatia, Galicia, Bohemia, Moravia, Dalmatia, the Tyrol, Transylvania, and the Banat— Neuchtel Champagne— Sparkling Wine Factories at Vevay and Sion— The Vevay Vineyards— Establishment of De Riedmatten and De Quay— Sparkling Muscatel, Malmsey, Brachetto, Castagnolo, and Lacryma Christi of Italy— Sparkling Wines of Spain, Greece, Algeria, and Russia— The Krimski and Donski Champagnes— The Latter Chiefly Consumed at the Great Russian Fairs.
Sparkling wines are made in various parts of Austria and Hungary, and of late years their produce has been largely on the increase. At Voslau, in the vicinity of the picturesque and fashionable summer watering-place of Baden, about twenty miles south of Vienna, Herr R. Schlumberger, one of my colleagues on the wine jury at the Vienna and Paris Exhibitions of 1873 and '8, makes a white sparkling Voslauer—introduced into England some years since—from the blue portuguese, the burgundy (the pineau noir), the rulander (the pineau gris), and the riesling varieties of grape. It is, however, at Graz, the capital of Styria, picturesquely situated on the river Mur, and surrounded by lofty mountains, where sparkling wines are made upon the largest scale and with the most success. By far the principal manufactory is that of Kleinoscheg Brothers, founded in the year 1850, at an epoch when the larger Styrian wine-growers were directing their attention to the general improvement of their vineyards. The firm gained their knowledge of sparkling wines by practical experience acquired in the Champagne itself, and to-day they unquestionably produce some of the best sparkling wines that are made out of France. They possess extensive vineyards of their own, and are also large purchasers of wines from the best districts, including Pettau, Radkersburg, the Picherergebirge, and Luttenberg, the latter yielding the finest wine which Styria produces, vintaged from the mosler or furmint—that is, the Tokay variety of grape.
White wine from the clevener grape, understood to be identical with the pineau noir of Burgundy and the Champagne, and vintaged early in October, forms the basis of the sparkling wines manufactured by Kleinoscheg Brothers. The produce of several other grapes, however, enters in a limited degree into the blend, including the riesling, the rulander or pineau gris, and the portuguese, the gathering of which is usually delayed several weeks later, and is sometimes even deferred until the end of November. The first and second pressings of the black grapes yield a white must as in the Champagne, while the third and fourth give a pink wine of which the firm make a speciality.
The wines, which are treated precisely after the system pursued in the Champagne, are bottled during the months of July and August, and are made either sweet or dry according to the country they are destined for. Considerable shipments of the dry pale Styrian champagne take place to England, where the firm also send a delicate sparkling muscatel and a sparkling red burgundy, which will favourably compare with the best sparkling wines of the Cte d'Or. They have also a large market for their wines in Austria, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, and export to British North America, the East Indies, China, Japan, and Australia. From the year 1855 up to the present time the firm of Kleinoscheg Brothers have been awarded no less than sixteen medals for their sparkling wines at various important home and foreign exhibitions.
At Marburg on the river Drave, in the vicinity of the Bacher Mountains, which stretch far into Carinthia, and have their lower slopes covered with vines, Herr F. Auchmann has established a successful sparkling wine manufactory. The raw wine comes from the vineyards around Marburg and from Pettau, some ten or twelve miles lower down the Drave. The vintage commonly lasts from the middle of October until the middle of November. Black grapes of the clevener and portuguese varieties are pressed as in the Champagne, so as to yield a white must, with which a certain portion of white wine from the mosler or furmint grape is subsequently mingled. The bottling takes place as early as April or May. The wines are principally consumed in Austria, but are also exported to Russia, Italy, Egypt, the Danubian Principalities, Australia, &c.
Sparkling wines seem to be made in various parts of Hungary, judging from the samples sent to the Vienna and Paris Exhibitions from Pesth, Pressburg, Oedenburg, Pcs, Velencze, and Kolozsvr. Rose-colour wines are evidently much in favour with the respective manufacturers, several of whom make sparkling red wines as well, but with none of the success of their Styrian neighbours. The best Hungarian sparkling wines we have met with are those of Hubert and Habermann, made at Pressburg, the former capital of Hungary, where its kings, after being crowned, used to ride up the Knigsberg brandishing the sword of St. Stephen towards the four points of the compass in token of their determination to defend the kingdom against all enemies. The white sparkling wines are made exclusively from white grapes grown in the neighbouring vineyards of Bsing, Genau, and St. Georgen, but the firm make red sparkling wines as well from the produce of the Ratzersdorf and Wainor vineyards. The vintage takes place some time in October, and the wines are bottled both in the spring and autumn, but never until they are fully twelve months old. With these variations the system pursued with regard to the wines is the same as is followed in the Champagne. There are several other sparkling wine manufacturers at Pressburg, and the principal market for these wines is Austro-Hungary, but shipments of them are made to England, the United States, India, Roumania, and Servia. The production of sparkling wine in Hungary is now estimated to amount to one million bottles annually.
In Croatia Prince Lippe-Schaumburg has established a sparkling wine manufactory at Slatina, where he produces a so-called Riesling-Champagner, and it would appear from the collection of Austro-Hungarian sparkling wines exhibited at Vienna by Herr Bogdan Hoff of Cracow, that these wines are also made at Melnik, in Bohemia, at Bisenz in Moravia, at Sebenicodi Maraschino in Dalmatia, at Botzen in the Tyrol, at Tasnad in Transylvania, and at Weiss-Kirchen in the Banat. All these wines had been submitted to examination at the Imperial oeno-chemical laboratory at Klosterneuberg, and one was not surprised to find that the majority were pronounced to be of too robust a character for transformation into sparkling wines.
Switzerland long since turned its attention to the manufacture of sparkling wines, not, however, to meet the requirements of its own population, but those of the many tourists with well-lined purses who annually explore its valleys, lakes, and mountains. Neuchtel champagne has met with a certain amount of success, and at the present time there are a couple of establishments devoted to its production, the best known being that of Bouvier frres. There are, moreover, sparkling wine manufactories at Vevay in the Vaud Canton, and at Sion in the Valais. In the Canton of Neuchtel the best Swiss red wines are produced—notably Cortaillod and Faverge of a ruby hue and Burgundy-like flavour—and the sparkling wine manufacturers of the district wisely blend a considerable proportion of wine from black grapes with that from white when making their cuves. Vaud, on the other hand, being noted for white wines bearing some resemblance to certain Rhine growths, it is of these that sparkling wines are exclusively made at Vevay.
The Vevay vineyards occupy the heights which skirt the Lake of Geneva on its northern side. The innumerable terraces, steep and difficult of access to the toiling vine-dresser, on which the vines are planted, are the result of centuries of patient labour. Here the vine seems to flourish at an altitude of more than 1,800 feet above the sea level. To compensate for the deficiency of sunshine the leaves are largely stripped from the vines so as to expose the fruit, and thereby assist its ripening.
The sparkling wine factory at Sion, bordering the river Rhne, in the Canton of the Valais, was established in 1872 by MM. de Riedmatten and De Quay, who derive their raw wine from vineyards in the immediate neighbourhood, almost all of which have a southern exposure, and occupy gentle slopes. The soil chiefly consists of a decomposed limestone schist, locally termed "bris." In these vineyards, and more especially the district known as the Clavaux, some of the best and most alcoholic wines in Switzerland are produced.
The firm originally experimented with the choicer and more powerful growths, and, as may be imagined, soon discovered they were not well adapted for conversion into sparkling wines. To-day they limit themselves to wines produced from what is known as the "fendant" variety of grape, said by some to be identical with the German riesling, and by others to be of the same type as the French chasselas. The vintage in the Valais is the earliest in Switzerland, taking place in favourable years at the close of September, but ordinarily in the course of October. Some fine white candy syrup is added to the wine at the epoch of bottling, in order to provoke the requisite effervescence, which it does so effectually that the tirage is obliged to take place some time between November and May, as at any other period the temperature would be too high and the bottles would burst. MM. Riedmatten and De Quay have two varieties of sparkling wine—their Carte Blanche, which goes under the name of Mont Blanc, and is rather sweet, and their Carte Verte known as Glacier de Rhne, a drier variety and finding a readier sale.
Of late years, since many improvements have been effected in Italy both in the cultivation of the vineyards and the vintaging of the wine, numerous attempts have been made, although on the whole with but indifferent success, to produce a good sparkling wine. The principal seat of the manufacture is Asti, where the Societa Unione Enofila make considerable quantities of a common strong sweet sparkling wine, as well as a sparkling muscatel. Alessandria, Ancona, Bologna, Castagnolo, Genoa, Modena, Naples, Palermo, and Treviso also profess to make sparkling wines, but only in insignificant quantities. Alessandria produces sparkling malmsey and red sparkling brachetto; and on the Marquis Della Stufa's estate of Castagnolo a sparkling wine is manufactured from the currajola variety of grape, one of the best in the Tuscan vineyards. The vines at Castagnolo are cultivated in accordance with the French system, and at the vintage all unripe and unsound grapes are thrown aside. There is an evident flavour of the muscat grape in the Castagnolo sparkling wine, which has the merit of lightness and of being well made. The alcoholic strength is equivalent to rather more than 20 of proof spirit, and the highest quality wine is remarkable for its excessive dryness in comparison with all other samples of Italian sparkling wines that we have met with. Naples appears to confine itself to producing sparkling white lacryma christi, for which, as a curiosity, there exists a certain demand.
Spain of late years has shown itself equally ambitious with Italy to achieve distinction in the production of sparkling wines, and at the Paris Exhibition of 1878 there were samples from the majority of the wine centres skirting the Mediterranean coast, including Gerona, Barcelona, Tarragona, and Valencia. Other samples come from Logroo, in the north of Spain; and years ago sparkling wine used to be made at Villaviciosa, on the Bay of Biscay. To Paris there were also sent samples of sparkling orange wine, an agreeable beverage, and unquestionably preferable to the majority of Spanish sparkling wines composed of the juice of the grape.
Greek sparkling wines, said to be of very fair quality, are made at Athens, Corinth, and Tripoliza, and are exported in moderate quantities to Russia. Algeria, too, is turning its attention to the production of sparkling wines, but solely for home consumption, and at the Paris Exhibition there was a sparkling wine from Uruguay, but of execrable quality.
The sparkling wines of the Crimea and the Don, known in Russia respectively as Krimski and Donski champagnes, are described as being superior to much of the wine which passes in England under the name of champagne. In Russia it is the fashion to speak contemptuously of them, just as rhubarb and gooseberry champagne is spoken of in England, still these Crimean and Don products are genuine wines, and, though somewhat sweet, may be drunk with satisfaction and in moderate quantities with impunity. One of the best Donski brands is that of Abrahamof, and as much as six roubles per bottle is demanded for the finer qualities at Novoi Tscherkash. About a million bottles of the Donski champagne are exported annually, but the wine finds its principal market at the great Russian fairs, where almost every important bargain is "wetted" with sparkling Donski.
XIX.—THE SPARKLING WINES OF THE UNITED STATES.
Earliest Efforts at Wine-Making in America— Failures to Acclimatise European Vines— Wines Made by the Swiss Settlers and the Mission Fathers— The Yield of the Mission Vineyards— The Monster Vine of the Montecito Valley— The Catawba Vine and its General Cultivation— Mr. Longworth one of the Founders of American Viticulture— Fresh Attempts to make Sparkling Wine at Cincinnati— Existing Sparkling Wine Manufactures there— Longfellow's Song in Praise of Catawba— The Kelley Island Wine Company— Vintaging and Treatment of their Sparkling Wines— Decrease of Consumption— The Vineyards of Hammondsport— Varieties of Grapes used for Sparkling Wines— The Vintage— After-Treatment of the Wines— The Pleasant Valley and Urbana Wine Companies and their Various Brands— Californian Sparkling Wines— The Buena Vista Vinicultural Society of San Francisco— Its Early Failures and Eventual Success in Manufacturing Sparkling Wines— The Vintage in California— Chinese Vintagers— How the Wine is Made— American Spurious Sparkling Wines.