WINE (Lat. vinum, Gr. οἶνος), a term which when used in its modern sense without qualification designates the fermented product of grape juice. The fermented juices of other fruits or plants, such as the date, ginger, plum, &c., are also termed wine, but the material from which the wine is derived is in such cases also added in qualification. The present article deals solely with wine derived from the grape (see Vine).
Historical.—The art of viticulture or wine-making is a very ancient one. In the East it dates back almost as far as we have historical records of any kind. In Egypt and in Greece the introduction of wine was ascribed to gods; in Greece to Dionysus; in Egypt to Osiris. The Hebrews ascribed the art of wine-making to Noah. It is probable that the discovery that an intoxicating and pleasant beverage could be made from grape juice was purely accidental, and that it arose from observations made in connexion with crushed or bruised wild grapes, much as the manufacture of beer, or in its earliest form, mead, may be traced back to the accidental fermentation of wild honey. In ancient times the cultivation of the vine indicated a relatively settled and stable form of civilization, inasmuch as the vine requires a considerable maturation period. It is probable, therefore, that viticulture was introduced subsequent to the raising of cereal crops. The Nabataeans were forbidden to cultivate the vine, the object being to prevent any departure from their traditional nomadic habits. The earliest examples of specific wines of which we have any record are the Chalybon wine, produced near Damascus, in which the Phoenicians traded in the time of Ezekiel (xxvii. 18), and which at a later date was much appreciated by the Persian kings; and the wines from the Greek islands (Chios, Lesbos, Cos). With regard to the introduction of the vine into other parts of Europe, it appears that it was brought to Spain by the Phoenicians, and to Italy and southern Gaul from Greece. In the earliest Roman times the vine was very little cultivated in Italy, but gradually Rome and Italy generally became a great wine country. At a later date the republic sought to stimulate its home industry by prohibiting the importation of wine, and by restricting its cultivation in the colonies, thus preserving the latter as a useful market for Italian wines. According to Pliny, Spanish, Gallic and Greek wines were all consumed in Rome during the 1st century of the Christian era, but in Gaul the production of wine appears to have been limited to certain districts on the Rhone and Gironde. The cultivation of the vine in more northern parts (i.e. on the Seine and Moselle) was not commenced until after the death of Probus. Owing no doubt to the difficulties of transportation, wine was, in the middle ages, made in the south of England, and in parts of Germany, where it is now no longer produced (cf. Hehn, Culturpflanzen, &c., and Mommsen, Römische Geschichte, v. 98 et seq.) We know very little of the ancient methods of cultivating the vine, but the Romans—no doubt owing to the luxuriant ease with which the vine grows in Italy—appear to have trained it on trees, trellis work, palisades, &c. The dwarf form of cultivation now common in northern Europe docs not appear to have obtained to any extent. It seems likely that the quality of the wine produced in ancient times was scarcely comparable to that of the modern product, inasmuch as the addition of resin, salts and spices to wine was a common practice. With regard to the actual making of the wine, this does not appear to have differed very much in principle from the methods obtaining at the present day. Plastering appears to have been known at an early date, and when the juice of the grapes was too thin for the production of a good wine, it was occasionally boiled down with a view to concentration. The first wine receptacles were made of skins or hides, treated with oil or resin to make them impervious. Later, earthenware vessels were employed, but the wooden cask—not to mention the glass bottle—was not generally known until a much later period.
Production.—The total wine production of the world, which, of course, fluctuates considerably from year to year, amounts to roughly 3000 million gallons. France and Italy are the chief wine-producing countries, the former generally producing rather more than the latter. During the phylloxera period Italy in some years had the greater output (e.g. 1886–1888 and 1890–1892). The average production of the chief wine-producing countries will be gathered from the following table:—
Wine Production. Average Annual Production in Millions of Gallons for Quinquennial Periods.
The United States produces roughly 50, Bulgaria and Rumania each 40 and Servia 10 million gallons. The United Kingdom produces no wine, but the Cape and the Australian Commonwealth each produce some 5 million gallons.
The variation from year to year in the quantity of wine produced in individual countries is, of course, far greater than that observed in the case of beer or spirits. Thus, owing to purely climatic vagaries, the quantity of wine produced in Germany in 1891 was only 16 million gallons, whereas in 1896 it amounted to 111 millions. Similarly the French production, which was 587 million gallons in 1895, amounted to no less than 1482 millions in 1900. In the same way the Italian production has varied between 583 million gallons (1895) and 793 millions (1901), and the Spanish between 331 million gallons in 1896 and 656 millions in 1892.
Consumption.—It is only natural that the consumption of wine should be greatest in the countries where it is produced on the largest scale, but the discrepancy between the consumption of different countries is little short of astonishing. Thus, at the present time, the consumption per head in France is practically a hundred times that of the United Kingdom and twenty times that of Germany—the latter, it must be remembered, being itself an important wine-producing area.
The following table will give some idea of the relative consumption of wine in different countries.—
Average Consumption of Wine per Head of Population.
|Cape¹||. .||. .||. .|
¹Has varied between 1.9 and 3.7.
The whole of the wine consumed in the United Kingdom is imported. On the average somewhat more than one-third of the wine imported is derived from France, and about a quarter from Spain and Portugal respectively.
Wines imported into the United Kingdom in 1906.
|From||Nature of Wines.||Quantity.||Value.|
|France||Claret, burgundy, champagne, &c.||4,105,302||2,221,4232,|
|Portugal||Chiefly port||¹ 3,707,377¹||1,099,7271,|
|Spain||Sherry, tarragona, &c.||2,808,751||397,840|
|Italy||. .||2, 243,247||42,513|
|Total for foreign countries||. .||12,356,425||4,094,6724,|
|Australia||. .||2, 622,836||100,161|
|Total British possessions||. .||2, 777,689||123,891|
¹ The quantity of port received was exceptionally large. The average quantity is rather under 3 million gallons and the value about £850,000.
² A considerable proportion of the German wines come to the United Kingdom via the Netherlands.
Of the wines imported from France, about one-quarter was Champagne and Saumur, the remainder consisting almost entirely of still wines, such as claret and burgundy.
Viticulture And Wine-Making
General Considerations.-Although the wine is cultivated in practically every part of the world possessing an appropriate climate and soil, from California in the West to Persia in the East, and from Germany in the North to the Cape of Good Hope and some of the South American republics in the South, yet, as is the case also with the cereal crops and many fruits and vegetables, the wines produced in countries possessing temperate climates are—when the vintage is successful—finer than those made in hot or semi-tropical regions. Although, for instance, the wines of Italy, Greece, the Cape, &c., possess great body and strength, they cannot compare as regards elegance of flavour and bouquet with the wines of France and Germany. On the other hand, of course, the vagaries of the temperate climate of northern Europe frequently lead to a partial or complete failure of the vintage, whereas the wines produced in relatively hot countries, although they undoubtedly vary in quality from year to year, are rarely, if ever, total failures. The character of a wine depends mainly (a) on the nature of the soil; (b) on the general type of the climate; (c) on the variety of vine cultivated. The quality, as distinct from general character, depends almost entirely on the vintage, i.e. on the weather conditions preceding and during the gathering of the grapes and the subsequent fermentation. Of all these factors, that of the nature of the soil on which the vine is grown is perhaps the most important The same vine, exposed to practically identical conditions of climate, will produce markedly different wines if planted in different soils. On the other hand, different varieties of the vine, provided they are otherwise not unsuitable, may, if planted in the same soil, after a time produce wines which may not differ seriously in character. Thus the planting of French and German vines in other countries (e.g. Australia, the Cape) has not led to the production of directly comparable wines, although there may at first have been some general resemblance in character. On the other hand, the replanting of some of the French vineyards (after the ravages due to the phylloxera) with American vines, or, as was more generally the case, the grafting of the old French stock on the hardy American roots, resulted, after a time, in many cases, in the production of wines practically indistinguishable from those formerly made.
Wine-making.—The art of wine-making is, compared with the manufacture of beer or spirits, both in principle and in practice a relatively simple operation. When the grapes have attained to maturity they are collected by hand and then transferred in baskets or carts to the press house. After the stalks have been removed either by hand or by a simple apparatus the juice is expressed either—as is still the case in many quarters—by trampling under foot or by means of a simple lever or screw press or by rollers. In the case of red wines the skins are not removed, inasmuch as it is from the latter that the colour of the wine is derived. The must, as the expressed juice of the grape is termed, is now exposed to the process of fermentation, which consists essentially in the conversion of the sugar of the must into alcohol and various subsidiary products. The fermenting operations in wine-making differ radically from those obtaining in the case of beer or of spirits in that (if we except certain special cases) no yeast is added from without. Fermentation is induced spontaneously by the yeast cells which are always present in large numbers in the grape itself. The result is that—as compared with beer or spirits—the fermentation at first is relatively slow, but it rapidly increases in intensity and continues until practically the whole of the sugar is converted. In the case of the production of certain sweet wines (such as the sweet Sauternes, Port and Tokay) the fermentation only proceeds up to a certain extent. It then either stops naturally, owing to the fact that the yeast cells will not work rapidly in a liquid containing more than a certain percentage of alcohol, or it is stopped artificially either by the addition of spirit or by other means which will be referred to below. As the character of a wine depends to a considerable extent on the nature of the yeast (see Fermentation), many attempts have been made of late years to improve the character of inferior wines by adding to the unfermented must a pure culture of yeast derived from a superior wine. If pure yeast is added in this manner in relatively large quantities, it will tend to predominate, inasmuch as the number of yeast cells derived from the grapes is at the commencement of fermentation relatively small. In this way, by making pure cultures derived from some of the finest French and German wines it has been possible to lend something of their character to the inferior growths of, for instance, California and Australia. It is not possible, however, by this method to entirely reproduce the character of the wine from which the yeast is derived inasmuch as this depends on other factors as well, particularly the constitution of the grape juice, conditions of climate, &c. The other micro-organisms naturally present in the must which is pitched with the pure culture are not without their influence on the result. If it were possible to sterilize the must prior to pitching with pure yeast no doubt better results might be obtained, but this appears to be out of the question inasmuch as the heating of the must which sterilization involves is not a practicable operation. After the main fermentation is finished, the young wine is transferred to casks or vats. The general method followed is to fill the casks to the bung-hole and to keep them full by an occasional addition of wine. The secondary fermentation proceeds slowly and the carbonic acid formed is allowed to escape by way of the bung-hole, which in order to prevent undue access of air is kept lightly covered or is fitted with a water seal, which permits gas to pass out of the cask, but prevents any return flow of air. During this secondary fermentation the wine gradually throws down a deposit which forms a coherent crust, known as argol or lees. This consists chiefly of cream of tartar (bitartrate of potash), tartrate of lime, yeast cells and of albuminous and colouring matters. At the end of some four to five months this primary deposition is practically finished and the wine more or less bright. At this stage it receives its first racking. Racking consists merely in separating the bright wine from the deposit. The wine is racked into clean casks, and this operation is repeated at intervals of some months, in all three to four times. As a general rule, it is not possible by racking alone to obtain the wine in an absolutely bright condition. In order to bring this about, a further operation, namely that of fining, is necessary. This consists, in most cases, in adding to the wine proteid matter in a finely divided state. For this purpose is in glass, gelatin or, in the case of high-class red wines, while of egg is employed. The proteid matter combines with a part of the tannin in the wine, forming an insoluble tannate, and this gradually subsides to the bottom of the cask, dragging with it the mechanically suspended matters which are the main cause of the wine's turbidity. In some cases purely mechanical means such as the use of Spanish clay or filtration are employed for fining purposes. Some wines, particularly those which lack acid or tannin, are very difficult to fine. The greatest care is necessary to ensure the cleanliness and asepticity of the casks in which wine is stored or into which it is racked. The most common method of ensuring cask cleanliness is the operation known as “sulphuring.” This consists in burning a portion of a sulphur “match” (i.e. a flat wick which has been steeped in melted sulphur, or simply a stick of melted sulphur) in the interior of the cask. The sulphurous acid evolved destroys such micro-organisms as may be in the cask, and in addition, as it reduces the supply of oxygen, renders the wine less prone to acidulous fermentation. Sweet wines, which are liable to fret, are more highly and frequently sulphured than dry wines. After the wine has been sufficiently racked and fined, and when it has reached a certain stage of maturation—varying according to the type of wine from, as a rule, two to four years—the wine is ready for bottling. Certain wines, however, such as some of the varieties of port, are not bottled, but are kept in the wood, at any rate for a considerable number of years. Wines so preserved, however, develop an entirely different character from those placed in bottle.
Chemistry of Wine
Maturation of the Grape.—The processes which take place in the grape during its growth and maturation are of considerable interest. E. Mach has made some interesting observations on this point. At first—i.e. at the beginning of July when the berries have attained to an appreciable size—the specific gravity of the juice is very low; it contains very little sugar, but a good deal of acid, chiefly free tartaric acid and malic acid. The juice at this period contains an appreciable amount of tannin. As the berry grows the amount of sugar gradually increases, and the same up to a certain point applies to the acidity. The character of the acidity, however, changes, the free tartaric acid gradually disappearing, forming bitartrate of potash and being otherwise broken up. On the other hand, the free malic acid increases and the tannin decreases. When the grape is ripe, the sugar has attained to a maximum and the acidity is very much reduced; the tannin has entirely disappeared.
The following figures obtained by Mach afford an interesting illustration of these processes:—
At first the sugar in the juice consists entirely of dextrose, but later fructose (laevulose) is formed. The sugar in ripe grape juice is practically invert sugar, i.e. consists of practically equal parts of dextrose and fructose. The proportion of sugar present in the juice of ripe grapes varies considerably according to the type of grape, the locality and the harvest. In temperate climates it varies as a rule between 15 and 20%, but in the case of hot climates or where the grapes are treated in a special manner, it may rise as high as 35% and more.
Fermentation.—The fermentation of grape juice, i.e. the must, is, as we have seen, a relatively simple operation, consisting as it does in exposing it to the spontaneous action of the micro-organisms contained in it. The main products formed are, as in all cases of alcoholic fermentation, ethylic alcohol, water and carbonic acid. At the same time various subsidiary products such as glycerin, succinic acid, small quantities of higher alcohols, volatile acids and compound esters are produced. In the case of red wines colouring matter is dissolved from the skins and a certain amount of mineral matter and tannin is extracted. It is to these subsidiary matters that the flavour and bouquet in wine are particularly due, at any rate in the first stages of maturation, although some of the substances originally present in the grape, such as ready-formed esters, essential oils, fat and so on, also play a role in this regard. In view of the fact that fresh grape juice contains innumerable bacteria and moulds, in addition to the yeast cells which bring about the alcoholic fermentation, and that the means which are adopted by the brewer and the distiller for checking the action of these undesirable organisms cannot be employed by the wine-maker, it is no doubt remarkable that the natural wine yeast so seldom fails to assert a preponderating action, particularly as the number of yeast cells at the beginning of fermentation is relatively small. The fact is that the constitution of average grape juice and the temperatures of fermentation which generally prevail are particularly well suited to the life action of wine yeast, and are inimical to the development of the other organisms. When these conditions fail, as is, for instance, the case when the must is lacking in acidity, or when the weather during the fermentation period is very hot and means are not at hand to cool the must, bacterial side fermentations may, and do, often take place. The most suitable temperature for fermentation varies according to the type of wine. In the case of Rhine wines it is between 20 and 25° C. If the temperatures rise above this, the fermentation is liable to be too rapid, too much alcohol is formed at a relatively early stage, and the result is that the fermentation ceases before the whole of the sugar has been transformed. Wines which have received a check of this description during the main fermentation are very liable to bacterial troubles and frets. In the case of wines made in more southerly latitudes temperatures between 25 and 30° are not excessive, but temperatures appreciably over 30° frequently lead to mischief. The young wine immediately after the cessation of the main fermentation is very differently constituted from the must from which it was derived. The sugar, as we have seen, has disappeared, and alcohol, glycerin and other substances have been formed. At the same time the acidity is markedly reduced. This reduction of acidity is partly due to the deposition of various salts of tartaric acid, which are less soluble in a dilute alcoholic medium than in water, and partly to the action of micro-organisms. Young wines differ very widely in their composition according to class and vintage. The alcohol in naturally fermented wines may vary between 7 and 16%, although these are not the outside limits. The acidity may vary between 0.3 and 1% according to circumstances. The normal proportion of glycerin varies between 7 and 14 parts for every 100 parts of alcohol in the wine, but even these limits are frequently not reached or exceeded. The total solid matter or “extract,” as it is called, will vary between 1.5 and 3.5% for dry wines, and the mineral matter or ash generally amounts to about one-tenth of the “extract.” The tannin in young red wines may amount to as much as 0.4 or 0.5%, but in white wines it is much less. The amount of volatile acid should be very small, and, except in special cases, a percentage of volatile acid exceeding 0.1 to 0.15%, according to the class of wine, will indicate that an abnormal or undesirable fermentation has taken place. As the wine matures the most noticeable feature in the first instance is the reduction in the acidity, which is mainly due to a deposition of tartar, and the disappearance of tannin and colouring matter, due to fining and the action of oxygen.
Constitution of Grape Juice at Various Periods of Maturation
|Date of Analysis of Juice.|
|6th July.||12th Aug.||9th Sept.||12th Oct.|
|Per cent.||Per cent.||Per cent.||Per cent.|
|Total acid (as tartaric acid)||2.66||3.46||0.87||0.71|
|Tannin||0.106||0.012||. .||. .|
The taste and bouquet of wines in the earlier stages of their development, or within the first four or five years of the vintage, are almost entirely dependent upon constituents derived from the must, either directly or as a result of the main fermentation. In the case of dry wines, the quality which is known as “body” (palate-fulness) is mainly dependent on the solid, i.e. non-volatile, constituents. These comprise gummy and albuminous matters, acid, salts, glycerin and other matters of which we have so far little knowledge. The apparent “body” of the wine, however, is not merely dependent upon the absolute quantity of solid—non-volatile—matters it contains, but is influenced also by the relative proportions in which the various constituents exist. For instance, a wine which under favourable conditions would seem full and round may appear harsh or rough, merely owing to the fact that it contains a small quantity of suspended tartar, the latter causing temporary hyperacidity and apparent “greenness.” It has been found by experience also that wines which are normally constituted as regards the relative proportions of their various constituents, provided that the quantities of these do not fall below certain limits, are likely to develop well, whereas wines which, although perfectly sound, show an abnormal constitution, will rarely turn out successful. The bouquet of young wines is due principally to the compound esters which exist in the juice or are formed by the primary fermentation. It was at one time thought that the quality of the bouquet was dependent upon the absolute quantity of these compound esters present, but the author and others have plainly shown that this is not the case. Among the characteristic esters present in wine is the well-known “oenanthic ether,” which consists principally of ethylic pelargonate. It does not follow that a wine which shows a pretty bouquet in the primary stages will turn out well. On the contrary, it is frequently the case that the most successful wines in after years are those which at first show very little bouquet. The maturation of wine, whether it be in bottle or in cask, is an exceedingly interesting operation. The wines which remain for a long period in cask gradually lose alcohol and water by evaporation, and therefore become in time extremely concentrated as regards the solid and relatively non-volatile matters contained in them. As a rule, wines which are kept for many years in cask become very dry, and the loss of alcohol by evaporation—particularly in the case of light wines—has as a result the production of acidity by oxidation. Although these old wines may contain absolutely a very large quantity of acid, they may not appear acid to the palate inasmuch as the other constituents, particularly the glycerin and gummy matters, will have likewise increased in relative quantity to such an extent as to hide the acid flavour. In the case of maturation in bottle the most prominent features are the mellowing of the somewhat hard taste associated with new wine and the development of the secondary bouquet. The softening effect of age is due to the deposition of a part of the tartar together with a part of the tannin and some of the colouring matter. The mechanism of the development of the secondary bouquet appears to be dependent firstly on purely chemical processes, principally that of oxidation, and secondly on the life activity of certain micro-organisms. L. Pasteur filled glass tubes entirely with new wine and then sealed them up. It was found that wine so treated remained unchanged in taste and flavour for years. On the other hand, he filled some other tubes partly with wine, the remaining space being occupied by air. In this case the wine gradually matured and acquired the properties which were associated with age. Wortmann examined a number of old wines and found that in all cases in which the wine was still in good condition or of fine character a small number of living organisms (yeast cells, &c.) were still present. He also found that in the case of old wines which had frankly deteriorated, the presence of micro-organisms could not be detected. It is, however, not absolutely clear whether the improvement observed on maturation is actually due to the action of these micro-organisms. It may be that the conditions which are favourable to the improvement of the wine are also favourable to the continued existence of the micro-organisms, and that their disappearance is coincident with, and not the cause of, a wine’s deterioration. It is frequently assumed that a wine is necessarily good because it is old, and that the quality of a wine increases indefinitely with age. This is, however, a very mistaken idea. There is a period in the life history of every wine at which it attains its maximum of quality. This period as a rule is short, and it then commences “to go back” or deteriorate. The age at which a wine is at its best is by no means so great as is popularly supposed. This age naturally depends upon the character of the wine and on the vintage. Highly alcoholic wines, such as port and sherry, will improve and remain good for a much longer period than relatively light wines, such as claret, champagne or Moselle. As regards the latter, indeed, it is nowadays held that it is at its best within a very short period of the vintage, and that when the characteristic slight “prickling” taste due to carbonic acid derived from the secondary fermentation has disappeared, the wine has lost its attraction for the modern palate. In the same way champagne rarely, if ever, improves after twelve to fourteen years. With regard to claret it may be said that as a general rule the wine will not improve after twenty-five to thirty years, and that after this time it will commence to deteriorate. At the same time there are exceptional cases in which claret may be found in very fine condition after a lapse of as much as forty years, but even in such cases it will be found that for every bottle that is good there may be one which is distinctly inferior.
Diseases of the Vine.—The vine is subject to a number of diseases some of which are due to micro-organisms (moulds, bacteria), others to insect life. The most destructive of all these diseases is that of the phylloxera. The Phylloxera vastatrix is an insect belonging to the green fly tribe, which destroys the roots and leaves of the growing plant by forming galls and nodosities. Practically every wine-growing country has been afflicted with this disease at one time or another. The great epidemic in the French vineyards in the years 1882 to 1885 led to a reduction of the yield of about 50%. Many remedies for this disease have been suggested, including total submersion of the vineyards, the use of carbon bisulphide for spraying, and of copper salts, but there appears to be little doubt that a really serious epidemic can only be dealt with by systematic destruction of the vines, followed by replanting with resistant varieties. This, of course, naturally leads to the production of a wine somewhat different in character to that produced before the epidemic, but this difficulty may be overcome to some extent, as it was in the Bordeaux vineyards, by grafting ancient stock on the roots of new and resistant vines. Oidium or mildew is only second in importance to the phylloxera. It is caused by a species of mould which lives on the green part of the plant. The leaves shrivel, the plant ceases to grow, and the grapes that are formed also shrivel and die. The most effective cure, short of destruction and replantation, appears to be spraying with finely divided sulphur. Another evil, which is caused by unseasonable weather during and shortly after the flowering, is known as coulure. This causes the flowers, or at a later period the young fruit, to fall off the growing plant in large numbers.
Diseases of Wine.—These are numerous, and may be derived either directly from the vine, from an abnormal constitution of the grape juice, or to subsequent infection. Thus the disease known as tourne or casse is generally caused by the wine having been made or partly made from grapes affected by mildew. The micro-organism giving rise to this disease generally appears in the form of small jointed rods and tangled masses under the microscope. Wine which is affected by this disease loses its colour and flavour. The colour in the case of red wines is first altered from red to brown, and in bad cases disappears altogether, leaving an almost colourless solution. This disease is also caused by the wine lacking alcohol, acid and tannin, and to the presence of an excess of albuminous matters. The most common disease to which wine is subject by infection is that caused by a micro-organism termed mycoderma-vini (French fleurs de vin). This micro-organism, which resembles ordinary yeast cells in appearance, forms a pellicle on the surface of wine, particularly when the latter is exposed to the air more than it should be, and its development is favoured by lack of alcohol. The micro-organism splits up the alcohol of the wine and some of the other constituents, forming carbonic acid and water. This process indicates a very intensive form of oxidation inasmuch as no intermediary acid is formed. One of the most common diseases, namely that producing acetous fermentation, differs from the disease caused by M. vini in that the alcohol is transformed into acetic acid. It is caused by a microorganism termed Mycoderma aceti, which occurs in wine in small groups and chaplets of round cells. It is principally due to a lack of alcohol in the wine or to lack of acidity in the must. The micro-organism which causes the disease of bitterness (amer) forms longish branched filaments in the wine. Hand in hand with the development of a disagreeable bitter taste there is a precipitation of colouring matter and the formation of certain disagreeable secondary constituents. This disease is generally caused by infection and is favoured by a lack of alcohol, acid and tannin. Another disease which generally occurs only in white wines is that which converts the wine into a thick stringy liquid. It is the viscous or graisse disease. As a rule this disease is due to a lack of tannin (hence its more frequent occurrence in white wines). The mannitic disease, which is due to high temperatures during fermentation and lack of acid in the must, is rarely of serious consequence in temperate countries. The micro-organism splits up the laevulose in the must, forming mannitol and different acids, particularly volatile acid. The wine becomes turbid and acquires a peculiarly bitter sweet taste, and if the disease goes further becomes quite undrinkable. It would appear from the researches of the author and others that the mannitol ferment is more generally present in wines than is supposed to be the case. Thus the author found in some very old and fine wines very appreciable quantities of mannitol. In these cases the mannitic fermentation had obviously not developed to any extent, and small quantities of mannitol appear to exercise no prejudicial effect on flavour.
Treatment of Diseases.—It was found by Pasteur that by heating wine out of contact with air to about 66° C. the various germs causing wine maladies could be checked in their action or destroyed. The one disadvantage of this method is that unless very carefully applied the normal development of the wine may be seriously retarded. In the case of cheap wines or of wines which are already more or less mature, this is not a matter of any great importance, but in the case of the finer wines it may be a serious consideration. Pasteurizing alone, however, will only avail in cases where the disease has not gone beyond the initial stages, inasmuch as it cannot restore colour, taste or flavour where those have already been affected. In such cases, and also in others where pasteurizing is not applicable, some direct treatment with a view to eliminating or adding constituents which are in excess or lacking is indicated. In this regard it is somewhat difficult to draw the line between that which is a rational and scientific method for preventing waste of good material and sophistication pure and simple. It appears to the author, however, that where such methods are employed merely with a view to overcoming a specific malady and there is no intention of increasing the quantity of the wine for purposes of gain, or of giving it a fictitious appearance of quality, these operations are perfectly justifiable and may be compared to the modifications of procedure which are forced upon the brewer or distiller who has to deal with somewhat abnormal raw material. It has been found, for instance, that in the case of the mannitic disease the action of the micro-organism may be checked, or prevented altogether, by bringing the acidity of the must up to a certain level by the addition of a small quantity of tartaric acid. Again, it is well known that in the case of the viscous disease the difficulty may be overcome by the addition of a small quantity of tannin. In the same way the disease caused by the mildew organism may be counteracted by a slight addition of alcohol and tannin. One method of assisting nature in wine-making, which is, in the opinion of the author, not justifiable if the resulting product is sold as wine or in such a manner as to indicate that it is natural wine, is the process termed “gallisizing,” so called from its inventor H. L. L. Gall, which has been largely practised, particularly on the Rhine. The process of Gall consists in adding sugar and water in sufficient quantity to establish the percentages of free acid and sugar which are characteristic of the best years in the must obtained in inferior years. Although there is no objection to this product from a purely hygienic point of view, it is not natural wine, and the products present in the must other than sugar and acid are by this process seriously affected. Another method of dealing with inferior must, due to J. A. C. Chaptal, consists in neutralizing excessive acid by means of powdered marble, and bringing up the sugar to normal proportions by adding appropriate amounts of this substance in a solid form. There is less objection to this process than to the former, inasmuch as it does not result in a dilution of the wine. It is scarcely necessary to say that the indiscriminate addition of alcohol and water, or of either to must or to wine, must be regarded as a reprehensible operation.
Plastering.—In some countries, particularly in Italy, Spain and Portugal, it has been and still is a common practice to add a small quantity of gypsum to the fermenting must or to dust it over the grapes prior to pressing. It is said that wines treated in this manner mature more quickly, and that they are more stable and of better colour. It certainly appears to be the case that musts which are plastered rarely suffer from abnormal fermentation, and that the wines which result very rarely turn acid. The main result of plastering is that the soluble tart rates in the wine are decomposed, forming insoluble tartrate of lime and soluble sulphate of potash. It is held that an excess of the latter is undesirable in wine, but unless the quantity appreciably exceeds two grams per litre, no reasonable objection can be raised.
Basis Wines.—Wines which are made not from fresh grape juice but from raisins or concentrated must, or similar material, are generally termed basis wines. They are prepared by adding water to the concentrated saccharine matter and subsequently pitching with wine yeast at an appropriate temperature. Frequently alcohol, tannin, glycerin, and similar wine constituents are also added. If carefully prepared there is no objection to these basis wines from a hygienic point of view, although they have not the delicate qualities and stimulating effects of natural wines; unfortunately, however, these wines have in the past been vended on a large scale in a manner calculated to deceive the consumer as to their real nature, but energetic measures, which have of late been taken in most countries affected by this trade, have done much to mitigate the evil.
Wines of France
It may be safely said that there is no other country in which the general conditions are so favourable for the production of wine of high quality and on a large scale as is the case in France. The climate is essentially of a moderate character; the winters are rarely very cold, and the summers are seldom of the intensely hot and dry nature which is characteristic of most southerly wine countries. There are large tracts of gently undulating or relatively flat country which is, inasmuch as it ensures effective exposal of the vines to the sun, of a type particularly suited to viticulture. There is almost everywhere an efficient supply of water, and lastly the character of the soil is in many parts an ideal one for the production of wine high in quality and abundant in quantity. It may here be stated that a rich soil such as is suitable for the growth of cereal crops or vegetables is not, as a rule, an ideal one for the production of fine wines. The ideal soil for vine-growing is that which possesses a sufficiency, but not an excess, of nutriment for the plant, and which is so constituted that it will afford good drainage. The most important qualification, however, is that it should be so constituted as to preserve and store up during the relatively cold weather the heat which it has derived from the atmosphere during the summer. In this respect the famous Bordeaux or Gironde district is, perhaps, more fortunate than any other part of the world. The thrifty and methodical habits of the French peasantry, and also the system of small holdings which prevails in France, have, there is little doubt, done much to raise the French wine industry to the pre-eminent position which it holds. There is perhaps no branch of agriculture which requires more minute attention or for which a system of small holdings is more suitable than wine culture. At the present day, wine is produced in no less than 77 departments in France, the average total yield during the past ten years being roughly 1000 million gallons. This is considerably more than the average produced previous to the phylloxera period (1882-1887). The highest production on record was in the year 1875, when roughly 1840 million gallons were produced. Although France produces such enormous quantities of wine it is a remarkable fact that more wine is imported into France than is exported from that country. The average imports are in the neighbourhood of 120 million gallons, of which rather more than one-half comes from Algeria. The exports amount to roughly 40 million gallons. Of recent years (1896-1907) the only vintages which have been deficient as regards quantity are those of 1897, 1898, 1902 and 1903, but even in the most unfavourable of these years (1898) the quantity exceeded 700 million gallons. The greatest yield in this same period was in 1900, when over 1470 million gallons were produced. The number of different varieties of wines produced in France is remarkable. The red wines include the elegant and delicate (though not unstable) wines of the Gironde, and again the full, though not coarse, wines of the Burgundy district. Among the white wines we have the full sweet Sauternes, the relatively dry and elegant Graves and Chablis, and the light white wines which produce champagne and brandy.
Gironde (Bordeaux) Wines.—If France is the wine-growing country, par excellence, the Bordeaux district may be regarded as the heart and centre of the French wine industry. Although other parts of France produce excellent wines, the Gironde is easily first if high and stable character, elegance and delicacy, variety and quantity are considered together. The total area of the departments of the Gironde is about 2½ million acres, and roughly one-fifth of this is under the vine. It forms a tract of country some 90 m. long by 60 m. broad, in which the chief watersheds are those of the Garonne, Dordogne, and their confluent the Gironde. The soil varies very considerably in its character, and it is due to these variations that so many different types of wine are produced in this district, it generally consists of limestone, or of mixed limestone and clay, or of sand and clay, or of gravel, with here and there flint and rolled quartz. The subsoil is either of clay, of limestone, or mixed sand and clay, gravel, or of a peculiar kind of pudding stone which exists in a hard and a soft variety. It is formed of sand or fine gravel cemented by infiltrated oxide of iron. This stone is known locally under the name of alios. It is generally found at a depth of about 2 ft. under the better growths of the Médoc and Graves. The subsoils of some of the other districts (Côtes and St Emilion) contain much stone in the shape of flint and quartz. The finest wines of the Médoc and Graves are largely grown on a mixture of gravel, quartz and sand with a subsoil of alios or clay. The Gironde viticultural region is divided into six main districts, namely, Médoc, Sauternes, Graves, Côtes, Entre-deux-Mers and Palus. Although properly belonging to the Côtes, the St Emilion district is sometimes classified separately, as indeed, having regard to the excellence and variety of its wines, it has a right to be.
Médoc.—The most important subdivision of the Gironde district is that of the Médoc. It is here that the wine which is known to us as claret is produced in greatest excellence and variety. The Médoc consists of a tongue of land to the north of Bordeaux, bounded by the Garonne and Gironde on the east, and by the sea on the west and north. It is, roughly, 59 m. long by 6 to 10 m. broad. The soil varies considerably in nature, but consists mostly of gravel, quartz, limestone and sand on the surface, and of clay and alios beneath. The principal vines grown in the Médoc are the Cabernet-Sauvignon, which is the most important, the Gros Cabernet, the Merlot, the Carmenère, the Malbec, and the Verdot. All these produce red wines. Very little white wine is made in the Médoc proper. The method of vine cultivation is peculiar and characteristic. The vines are kept very low, and as a rule only two branches or arms, which are trained at right angles to the stem, are permitted to form. This dwarf system of culture gives the Médoc vineyards at a distance the appearance of a sea of small bushes, thereby producing an effect entirely different from, for instance, that seen on the Rhine with its high basket-shaped plants. The methods of making the wine in the Médoc are of the simplest description. The vintage generally takes place towards the end of September or the beginning of October. The grapes from which the stalks are partly or wholly (and occasionally not at all) removed are crushed by treading or some other simple method, but sometimes even this is omitted, the juice being expressed by the weight of the grapes themselves, or by the pressure caused by incipient fermentation. Presses are not used in the case of red wines until after fermentation, when they are employed in order to separate the wine from the murk. As a rule the fermentation occupies from 6 to 10 days; by this time the must has practically lost the whole of its sugar, and the young wine is drawn off and filled into hogsheads. The secondary fermentation proper is generally finished at the end of about six weeks to two months, and the first racking takes place, as a rule, in February or March. Subsequent rackings are made about June and November of the same year, but in the following years, until bottling, two rackings a year suffice.
The Médoc is divided into a number of communes (such as St Julien, Margaux, Pauillac, &c.), and in these communes are situated the different vineyards from which the actual name of the wine is derived. Unlike the products of the different vineyards of most other districts, which are purchased by the merchants and vatted to supply a general wine for commerce, the yield of the principal estates of the Médoc are kept distinct and reach the consumer as the products of a particular growth and of a particular year. This practice is almost without exception resorted to with what are known as the “classed growths” and the superior “bourgeois” wines, whilst in seasons in which the wines are of good quality it is continued down to the lower grades. This classification of the Médoc growths became necessary owing to the great variety of qualities produced and the distinct characteristic excellence of the individual vintages. There are four main classes or crus (literally growths, but more correctly types or qualities), namely, the “grands crus classés” or “classed growths” and the bourgeois, artisan and peasant growths. The “classed growths,” which include all the most famous wines of the Médoc, are themselves subdivided into five sections or growths. This general classification, which was made by a conference of brokers in 1855 as a result of many years of observation dating back to the 18th century, is still very fairly descriptive of the average merit of the wines classified. The following is a list of the classed red wines of the Médoc (i.e. claret) together with the names of the communes in which they are situated.
Classed Growths of the Médoc (Claret)
|„||Léoville-Lascases, St Julien.|
|„||Léoville-Poyferré, St Julien.|
|„||Léoville-Barton, St Julien.|
|„||Gruaud-Larose-Sarget, St Julien.|
|„||Gruaud Larose, St Julien.|
|„||Ducru-Beaucaillou, St Julien.|
|Cos d'Estournel, St Estèphe.|
|Château||Montrose, St Estèphe.|
|„||Lagrange, St Julien.|
|„||Langoa, St Julien.|
|„||Brown Cantenac, Cantenac.|
|„||La Lagune, Ludon.|
|„||Calon-Ségur, St Estèphe.|
|Château||Saint-Pierre, St Julien.|
|„||Branaire-Duluc, St Julien.|
|„||Talbot, St Julien.|
|„||La Tour Carnet, St Laurent.|
|„||Rochet, St Estèphe.|
|„||Beychevelle, St Julien.|
|Le Prieuré, Cantenac.|
|Marquis de Terme, Margaux. |
|„||Le Tertre, Arsac.|
|„||Belgrave, St Laurent.|
|„||Camensac, St Laurent.|
|Cos-Labory, St Estèphe.|
The quality of the Médoc red wines (and this applies also to some of the finer growths of the other Bordeaux districts) is radically different from that of wines similar in type grown in other parts of the world. The Gironde red wines have sufficient body and alcohol to ensure stability without being heavy or fiery. At the same time, their acidity is very low and their bouquet characteristically delicate and elegant. It is to this relatively large amount of body and absence of an excess of acid and of tannin that the peculiarly soft effect of the Bordeaux wines on the palate is due. It has been said that chemistry is of little avail in determining the value of a wine, and this is undoubtedly true as regards the bouquet and flavour, but there is no gainsaying the fact that many hundreds of analyses of the wines of the Gironde have shown that they are, as a class, distinctly different in the particulars referred to from wines of the claret type produced, for instance, in Spain, Australia or the Cape. The quality of the wines naturally varies considerably with the vintage; but it is almost invariably the case that the wines of successful vintages will contain practically the same relative proportions of their various constituents, although the absolute amounts present of these constituents may differ widely. It is the author's experience also that where a wine displays some abnormality as regards one or more constituents, that although it may be sound, it is rarely a wine of the highest class. The tables below will give a fair idea of the variations which occur in the same wine as a result of different vintages, and the variations due to differences of “growth” in the same vintage. These figures are selected from among a number published by the author in the Journal of the Institute of Brewing, April 1907.
Analyses of Château Lafite of Different Vintages.¹
|1875||„||10.31||3.67||. .||. .||. .||7.25||. .|
Analyses of Different Clarets of the Same Vintage.¹
|Ch. Palmer (Margaux)||11.73||3.19||28.64||2.72||1.52||8.23||2.27|
¹Results (excepting alcohol) are expressed in grams per litre, i.e. roughly parts per thousand.
The annual output of the Gironde during the last few years has been roughly 70 to 100 million gallons. In the decade 1876 to 1886 the average amount was barely 30 million gallons owing to the small yields of the years 1881 to 1885. In the years 1874 and 1875 the yield exceeded 100 million gallons. The output of the classed growths varies considerably according to the vintage, but is on the average, owing to the great care exercised in the vineyards, greater than that of the lower-grade areas. Thus within recent years the output of the Château Lafite was at a minimum in 1903 when only 229 hogsheads (the hogshead of claret = 46 gallons) were produced, and at a maximum in 1907, when close on 1000 hogsheads were obtained. Similarly, the Château Margaux, which yielded 1120 hogsheads in 1900, produced 280 hogsheads in 1903. The prices of the wines also are subject to great fluctuation, but in fair years will vary, according to class and quality, from 10 to 30 per hogshead for the better growths.
The principal claret vintages of modern times have been those of 1858, 1864, 1869, 1870, 1874, 1875, 1877, 1878, 1888, 1893, 1896, 1899 and 1900, while it was thought probable that many of the wines of 1904 to 1907 inclusive would turn out well. From 1882 to 1886 inclusive, the vintages were almost total failures owing to mildew. In 1887 to 1895 a number of fair wines were produced in each year, and the first really good vintage of the post-mildew-phylloxera period was that of 1888.
Most of the wines grown on a purely gravelly soil are termed “Graves,” but there is a specific district of Graves which lies south Graves. of Bordeaux and west of the river, and extends as far as Langon. The soil is almost a pure sandy gravel with a subsoil of varied nature, but principally alios, gravel, clay or sand. This district produces both red and white wines. The vines, the methods of viticulture and vinification as regards the red wines of the Graves district, are similar to those of the Médoc. The wines are, if anything, slightly fuller in body and more alcoholic than those of the latter region. They possess a characteristic flavour which differentiates them somewhat sharply from the Médoc wines. The Graves contains one vineyard, namely Château Haut-Brion, which ranks in quality together with the three first growths of the Medoc. The remainder of the red Graves are not classified, but among the more important wines may be mentioned the following: in the commune of Pessac, Château La Mission and Château Pape-Clément; in the commune of Villenaye D'Ornon, Château La Ferrade; in Léognan, Château Haut-Bailly, Château Haut-Brion-Larrivet and Château Branon-Licterie; in Martillac, Château Smith-Haut-Lafite.
The district of Sauternes produces the finest white wines of the Gironde, one might say of the whole of France. Whereas the Sauternes. white wines of the Graves are on the whole fairly dry and light in character, the white wines of Sauternes are full and sweet, with a very fine characteristic bouquet. The district of Sauternes covers the communes of Sauternes, Bommes and a part of Barsac, Preignac, Fargues and St Pierre-de-Mons. The general configuration of the country is markedly different from that of the Médoc, consisting of a series of low hills rising easily from the river. The soil consists chiefly of mixed clay and gravel, or clay and limestone, and the vines chiefly used are the Sauvignon, the Semillon and the Muscatelle. The wines are made entirely from white grapes, and the methods of collecting the latter, and of working them up into wine, are entirely different from those prevalent in the red wine districts. The grapes are allowed to remain on the vines some three to four weeks longer than is the case in the Médoc, and the result is that they shrivel up and become over-ripe, and so contain relatively little water and a very large quantity of sugar. This alone, however, does not account for the peculiar character of the Sauternes, for during the latter period of ripening a specific micro-organism termed Botrytis cinerea develops on the grape, causing a peculiar condition termed pourriture noble (German Edelfäule), which appears to be responsible for the remarkable bouquet observed in the wines. When the grapes have attained the proper degree of ripeness, or rather over-ripeness, they are gathered with the greatest care, the berries being frequently cut off from the branches singly, and sorted according to their appearance. The grapes are then not crushed, but are immediately pressed, and the juice alone is subjected to fermentation. As a rule, three wines are made in the principal vineyards in three successive periods. The first wine, which is termed the vin de tête, is generally the sweetest and finest, the next (called the milieu) being somewhat drier and the last (vin de queue) being the least valuable. For some markets these wines are shipped separately, for others they are blended according to the prevalent taste. The musts from which the Sauternes wines are made are so concentrated that only a part of the sugar is transformed into alcohol, an appreciable portion remaining unfermented. These wines, therefore, require very careful handling in order to prevent undesirable secondary fermentations taking place at a later period. They are subjected to frequent racking, the casks into which they are racked being more highly sulphured than is the case with red wines. This is necessary, not only to prevent fermentation recommencing, but also in order to preserve the light golden colour of the wine, which, if brought into contact with an excess of air, rapidly assumes an unsightly brown shade.
The Sauternes generally are full-bodied wines, very luscious and yet delicate; they possess a special seve, or, in other words, that special taste which, while it remains in the mouth, leaves the palate perfectly fresh. The finer growths of the Sauternes are classified in much the same way as the red wines of the Médoc. There are two main growths, the wines being as follows:—
|Classification of Sauternes|
|Grand First Growth.|
|Château||La Tour Blanche, Bommes.|
|„||Bayle (Guiraud), Sauternes.|
The production of the Sauternes vineyards is, as a rule, smaller than that of the chief red growths, and in consequence of this, and that the district is a relatively small one, the prices of the finer growths are often very high.
The Côtes district consists of the slopes rising from the lower marshy regions to the east of the Garonne and the Dordogne respectively. St Emillion. The best of the Côtes wines are grown in the St Emilion region. This region consists of the commune of St Emilion, together with the four surrounding communes. It produces wines of a decidedly bigger type than those of the Médoc, and is frequently called the Burgundy of the Bordeaux district. The classification of the St Emilion wines is very complicated, but in principle is similar to that of the Médoc wines. Among the better known wines of the first growths are the following: Château Ausone, Château Belair, Château Clos Fourtet, Château Pavie, Château Coutet, Château Cheval-Blanc, Château Figeac. The Château Ausone is of peculiar interest, inasmuch as it is here that the poet Ausonius possessed a magnificent villa and cultivated a vineyard (A.D. 300).
Palus and Entre-deux-Mers.—The above wines are grown in the marshy regions in the immediate neighbourhood of the Garonne and Dordogne. They produce useful but rather rough wines. The Entre-deux-Mers district forms a peninsula between the Garonne and Dordogne, comprising the arrondissements of La Réole, the south of Libourne and the east of Bordeaux. This district produces both red and white wines, but their character is not comparable to that of the Médoc or of the Côtes. They are generally employed for local consumption and blending.
The sparkling wine known to us as champagne takes its name from the former province which is now replaced by the departments of Champagne. Marne, Haute-Marne, Aube and Ardennes. The best wines, however, are grown almost exclusively in the Marne district. The cultivation of the vine in the Champagne is of very ancient date. It appears that both red and white wines were produced there in the reign of the Roman emperor, Probus (in the 3rd century A.D.), and according to Victor Rendu the queue of wine was already worth 19 livres in the time of Francis II., and had, in 1694, attained to the value of 1000 livres. It was at about the latter date that sparkling or effervescent wine was first made, for, according to M. Perrier, a publication of the year 1718 refers to the fact that wine of this description had then been known for some twenty years. The actual discovery of this type of wine is ascribed to Dom Pérignon, a monk who managed the cellars of the abbey of Haut Villers from 1670 to 1715. It appears also that it was this same Dom Pérignon who first used cork as a material for closing wine bottles. Up till then such primitive means as pads of hemp or cloth steeped in oil had been employed. It is very likely that the discovery of the utility of cork for stoppering led to the invention of effervescent wine, the most plausible explanation being that Dom Pérignon closed some bottles filled with partially fermented wine, with the new material, and on opening them later observed the effects produced by the confined carbonic acid gas. The art of making the wine was kept secret for some time, and many mysterious fables were circulated concerning it; inter alia it was believed that the Evil One had a hand in its manufacture. It does not appear, however, to have become popular or consumed on a large scale until the end of the 18th century.
The district producing the finest champagne is divided into two distinct regions, popularly known as the river and the mountain respectively. The former consists of the vineyards situated on or in the neighbourhood of the banks of the Marne. The principal vineyards in the valley, on the right bank of the river, are those at Ay, Dizy, Hautvillers and Mareuil; on the left bank, on the slopes of Epernay and parallel with the river, those at Pierry and Moussy; in the district towards the south-east, on the slopes of Avize, those of Avize, Cramant, Vertus and Mesnil. The chief vineyards in the “mountain” district are at Versy, Verzenay, Sillery, Rilly and Bouzy.
The soil in the champagne district consists on the slopes largely of
chalk and in the plain of alluvial soil. It is interspersed with some
clay and sand. The chief red vines of the champagne district are
the Plant-doré, Franc-Pineau and the Plant vert doré. The Plant
gris, or Meunier, yields grapes of a somewhat inferior quality. The
chief white vine is the Pineau, also known as Chardonay. The best
qualities of wine are made almost exclusively from the black grapes.
For this reason it is necessary that the process of collection, separation
and pressing should proceed as quickly as possible at vintage time
in order that the juice may not, through incipient fermentation,
dissolve any of the colouring matter from the skins. For the same
reason the grapes are collected in baskets in order to avoid excessive
pressure, and are transported in these to the press house. As there
is no preliminary crushing, the presses used for extracting the juice
have to be of a powerful character. As a rule, three qualities of
wine are made from one batch of grapes, the first pressing yielding
the best quality, whilst the second and third are relatively inferior.
After the must has been allowed to rest for some hours in order to
effect a partial clearing, it is drawn off into barrels and fermented in
the latter. The first racking and fining takes place about December.
The wine is allowed to rest for a further short period, and if not bright
is again racked and fined. It is then ready for bottling, but previous
to this operation it is necessary to ascertain whether the wine contains
sufficient remanent sugar to develop the “gas” necessary for
effervescence. If this is not the case, sugar is added, generally in
the form of fine cane or candied sugar. The bottles employed have
to be of very fine quality, as the pressure which they have to stand
may be as much as 7 to 8 atmospheres or more. Formerly the loss
through breakage was very great, but the art of making and selecting
these bottles has greatly improved, and the loss now amounts to
little more than 5%, whereas formerly 25% and even 30% was
not an uncommon figure. In the spring-time, shortly after bottling,
the rise in temperature produces a secondary fermentation, and this
converts the sugar into alcohol and carbonic acid. This fermentation
proceeds throughout the summer months, and in the meantime
a sediment which adheres to the side of the bottle is gradually formed.
The bottles, which up till now have been in a horizontal position,
are then, in order to prepare them for the next process, namely,
that known as disgorging, placed in a slanting position, neck downwards,
and are daily shaken very slightly, so that by degrees the
sediment works its way on to the cork. This process, which takes
several weeks, is a very delicate one, and requires much skill on the
part of the workman. When the whole of the sediment is on the
cork, the iron clip, with which the latter is kept in position, is removed
for a moment, and the force of the wine ejects the sediment and
cork simultaneously. This operation also requires much skill in
order to avoid an excessive escape of wine. An ingenious modification
has of modern times been introduced, which consists in freezing part
of the contents of the neck of the bottle. The cork may then be
withdrawn and the sediment removed without any wine being lost. After the sediment has been removed the wine is subjected to dosage,
or liqueuring. It is by this process that the degree of sweetness
required to suit the particular class of wine being made is attained.
For wines exported to England very little liqueur is employed; in
the case of some wines, known as Brut or Nature, none at all is added.
Wines intended for consumption in France receive a moderate
quantity of liqueur, but those for the Russian and South American
markets, where very sweet wines are liked, receive more. This
liqueur is made of fine wine, brandy and candied sugar. The
liqueuring is nowadays generally carried out by means of a machine
which regulates the quantity to a nicety. Champagne is not, as is
the case, for instance, with the classified growths of the Gironde, the
product of a single vineyard. The bulk of the wine is made in
vineyards belonging to small peasant proprietors, who sell their produce
to the great mercantile houses. The latter blend the wines received
from the various proprietors, and the chief aim in this blending is
to maintain the character of the wine which is sold under a particular
trade mark or brand. Similarly, it has been said that, strictly
speaking, there is no such thing as vintage champagne, for it is almost
invariably the practice, in order to maintain the general character
of a specific brand, to blend the new wines with some old wine or
wines which have been vatted for this particular purpose. These
vattings, and indeed all blendings of any particular batch of wines,
are termed cuvées. The vintage date, therefore, which is borne by
“vintage champagne,” refers rather to the date of vintage prior to
bottling than to the age of the wine, although the main bulk of the
wine of a certain “vintage” will actually have been made in the year
indicated. It is not unusual in the case of champagne to add some
sugar to the must in the years in which the latter is deficient in this
regard. No legitimate objection can be raised to this practice
inasmuch as champagne in any case must be regarded in the light
of a manufactured article rather than as a natural product. The
principal centres of the champagne trade are at Reims, Epernay,
Ay and Avize. The total output of the Marne district has for the
past three years averaged about 9 million gallons, but it occasionally
runs as high as 20 million gallons. A great part of this wine, however,
is not suitable for making high-class champagne. As a rule,
the supply considerably exceeds the demand, and the stock in hand
at the present time amounts to roughly four years' consumption of
finished wine, but to this must be added the stock existing in cask,
which is considerable. For the period 1906-1907 the total number
of bottles in stock amounted to over 121 millions, the bottles exported
to over 23 millions, and the bottles required for internal commerce
in France to something over 10 millions. There is, thus, at the
present a total annual consumption of rather over 30 millions of
bottles. The chief trade in champagne is with the United Kingdom,
to which the finest varieties are exported. In the year 1906,
1,161,339 gallons of champagne, to the value of £1,679,611, were
imported into the United Kingdom. The general composition of
high-class champagnes, as supplied to the English market, will be
gathered from the
preceding table, which is taken from a large
number of analyses published by the author and a collaborator in
the Analyst for January 1900.
Analyses of Champagne*
|No.||Description of Wine.||Vintage.||Alcohol
|Glycerin.|| Carbonic |
* Results, excepting alcohol, are in grams per litre.
It will be seen that, compared with the dry, light red wines, the proportion of sugar, alcohol and acidity is comparatively high in champagne, and the extract (solid matter) rather low.
The fruitful departments watered by the Loire and its tributaries produce considerable quantities of wine. The white growths of the Saumur. Loire have been known for many centuries, but up to 1834 were used only as still wines. At that date, however, it was found that the wines of Saumur (situated in the department of the Maine-et-Loire) could be successfully converted into sparkling wines, and since then a considerable trade in this class of wine has developed. At first it was chiefly used for blending with the wines of the Champagne when the vintage in this district was insufficient, but at the present time it is largely sold under its own name. The imports of sparkling Saumur into the United Kingdom in 1906 amounted to 114,234 gallons, valued at £73,984. Although the average wholesale value of Saumur is considerably less than that of champagne, it compares favourably with the lower grades of that article, and in flavour and character is similar to the latter. The successful evolution of the Saumur sparkling wine industry is largely due to the fact that the range of limestone hills, at the foot of which the town is situated, afford by excavation illimitable cellarage, easy of access and of remarkably even temperature, at a very small cost. The method of manufacture is similar to that followed in the Champagne.
In the east of France, not far from the Jura, lies the oldest viticultural district of Europe, namely that of Burgundy. It is still so called, after the old French provinces. Upper and Lower Burgundy. It comprises the departments of the Yonne on the north-west, the Côte d'Or in the centre, and the Saône-et-Loire on the south. Burgundy. In the Yonne are made chiefly the white wines known to us as Chablis; in the Saône-et-Loire are made the red and white wines of Mâcon, and there is also, stretching into the department of the Rhône, the district producing the Beaujolais wines. The most important wines, however, the Burgundy wines proper, are made in the centre of this region on the range of low hills running north-east by south-west called the Côte d'Or, or the golden slope. The soil of the Côte d'Or is chiefly limestone, with a little clay and sand. The vineyards producing the best wines are situated about half-way up the slopes, those at the top producing somewhat inferior, and those at the foot and in the plain ordinary growths. Practically all the best vineyards (which are grown on flat terraces on the slopes, and not on the slopes themselves) face south-west and so get the full benefit of the sun's rays. The most important vine—in fact on the slopes of the Côte d'Or practically the only vine—is the Pineau or Noirien, but in the plain and in the districts of Mâcon and Beaujolais the Gamay is much cultivated. The influence of the soil on one and the same vine is interestingly illustrated by the different character of the vines grown in those districts, the Beaujolais wines having far greater distinction than those of Mâcon. The commune of Beaune must be regarded as the centre of the Burgundy district, and possesses numerous vineyards of the highest class. To the north of Beaune lie the famous vineyards of Chambertin, Clos Vougeot, Romanée, Richebourg, Nuits St Georges and Gorton; to the south those of Pommard, Volnay, Monthélie and Meursault with its famous white wines.
The vinification of the Burgundy wines takes place in cuves of 500 to 2000 gallons capacity, and it has for very many years been the common practice in vintages in which the must is deficient in saccharine to ensure the stability of the wine by the addition of some sugar in the cuve. The first rackings generally take place in February or March, and the second in July. The practice of sugaring has ensured greater stability and keeping power to the wines, which formerly were frequently irregular in character and difficult to preserve.
There is no official classification of the Burgundy wines, but the following is a list comprising some of the finest growths in geographical order, from north to south, together with the localities in or near which they are situated.
|1. Red Wines.|
|Fixin||Clos de la Perrière.|
|Chambertin||Chambertin, Clos de Bize, Clos St Jacques.|
|Morey||Clos de Tart, Les Bonnes Mares, Les Larrets.|
|Vougeot||Clos de Vougeot.|
|Flagey||Les Grandes Eschezeaux.|
|Vosne||Romanée-Conti, Les Richebourgs, La Tache,|
|Romanée la Tache.|
|Nuits||Les Saint-Georges, Les Vaucrains,|
|Les Porrets, Les Pruliers, Les Boudots,|
|Aloxe||Le Corton, Le Clos-du-Roi-Corton.|
|Beaune||Les Fèves, Les Grèves, Le Clos de la Mousse.|
|Pommard||Les Arvelets, Les Rugiens.|
|Volnay||Les Caillerets, Les Champans.|
|Santenay||Les Santenots, Le Clos-Tavannes.|
|2. White Wines.|
|Meursault||Les Perrières, Les Genevrières.|
|Puligny||Montrachet, Les Chevaliers-Montrachet,|
|Le Batard Montrachet.|
An interesting feature of the Côte d'Or is the Hospice de Beaune, a celebrated charitable institution and hospital, the revenues of which are principally derived from certain vineyards in Beaune, Gorton, Volnay and Pommard. The wines of these vineyards are sold every year by auction early in November, and the prices they make serve as standards for the valuation of the other growths.
To the south of Lyons, in the department of the Drôme, are made in the district of Valence the celebrated Hermitage red and white Hermitage. wines. The quality of some of these, particularly of the sweet white wines, is considered very fine. The quantity produced is very small. The red wines made at the present time are after the style of Burgundy and possess good keeping qualities.
If we except the wines of Roussillon, produced in the old province of that name, in the extreme south of France, the above constitute Midi. the principal varieties of French wines known in the United Kingdom. They form, however, but a small fraction of the entire production of the country. The most prolific viticultural district of France is that known as the Midi, comprising the four departments of the Herault, Aude, Gard, and the Pyrenées-Orientales. Thus in 1901 the department of the Herault alone produced nearly 300 million gallons of wine, or approximately a quarter of the whole output of France. The average amount of wine made in the four departments for the past three years has been roughly 500 million gallons. These wines formerly were largely exported as vin de cargaison to South America, the United States, Australia, &c., and were also much employed for local consumption in other parts of France. Owing, however, to the fact that viticulture has made much progress in South America, in California, in Australia and particularly in Algeria, and also to the fact that the quality of these Midi wines has fallen off considerably since the phylloxera period, the outlet for them has become much reduced. These and other reasons, notably the manufacture of much fictitious wine with the aid of sugar (fortunately stopped by the rigid new wine laws), led to the grave wine crisis, which almost amounted to a revolution in the Midi in the spring and summer of 1907.
Viticulture has made great strides in Algeria during recent years. The first impetus to this department was given by the destruction Algeria. or crippling of many of the French vineyards during the phylloxera period. The present output amounts to roughly 150 million gallons, and the acreage under the vine has increased from 107,048 hectares in 1890 to 167,657 hectares in 1905. The wines, moreover, of Algeria are on the whole of decidedly fair quality, possessing body and strength and also stability. In this regard they are superior to the wines of the Midi.
Wines of Spain
The wines of Spain may be regarded as second in importance to those of France. Although the quantity produced is not so large as in Italy, the quality on the whole is decidedly superior to that of the latter country. There are three main types of wine with which consumers in the United Kingdom are familiar, namely Sherry, Tarragona (Spanish Port or Spanish Red) and wines of a claret type. The trade with the United Kingdom is of considerable proportions, the total quantity of Spanish wines imported in 1906 amounting to 1,689,049 gallons of red wine (to the value of £154,963), and white wines to the extent of 1,119,702 gallons (to the value of £242,877).
The most important wine produced in the province of Andalusia, which is the chief vine-growing district of Spain, is that known to Sherry. us as sherry, so called from the town of Jerez de la Frontera, which is the centre of the industry. Sherry is produced in a small district bounded by San Lucar in the north-east, Jerez in the east and Port St Mary on the south. The total viticultural area amounts to about 20,000 acres. The soil is of very varying nature, and consists in some districts of the so-called albariza (mainly chalk with some sand and clay), in others of barros, which is mainly sand cemented together with chalk and clay, and of arenas, which consists of nearly pure sand. Most of the vineyards in the Jerez district are upon albariza soil, those to the north and north-east are mainly of barros, and those close to the seashore of arenas. The dominating vine is the Palomino, which produces amontillados and finos. Other important vines are the Perruno and the Mantua Castellano. There is also a variety of Pedro-Ximenes, which, however, is not used for making ordinary wine, but for the purpose of preparing the so-called dulce, a very sweet must or wine, made from over-ripe grapes, which, after fortification with spirit, is employed for sweetening other wines. The process of vinification is comparatively simple. The grapes are, after gathering, dusted over with plaster of Paris, and then crushed by treading in a shallow rectangular vessel termed the lagar. The juice, which is so obtained together with that which results from the pressing of the murk, is fermented in much the same manner as is customary in other countries. There are two main types of sherry known in the United Kingdom, namely, those of the amontillado and those of the manzanilla classes. The former are generally sweet and full-bodied, the latter light and dry. The manzanillas are mostly shipped in the natural state, except for the addition of a small quantity of spirit. The amontillados may be again divided into the finos and the olorosos, the former being the more delicate. These distinctions are not of a hard and fast character, for they frequently merely represent different developments of the same wine. Thus, according to Thudicum, the regular heavy sherry from albariza soil remains immature for a number of years and then becomes a fino. After five to eight years it may become an amontillado, and if it is left in cask and allowed to develop, it will, after it attains an age of nine to fourteen years, become an oloroso, and still later it may become a secco. In Jerez itself a different classification, namely that according to quality and not age, exists, which, however, is only employed locally. Thus the term palma is applied to fine dry wines when in their second or third years. These may be amontillados, but according to some they never become olorosos. Then there are varieties known as double and treble palma, and single, double and treble palo, the latter being the finest form of oloroso. Then there is the quality of wine termed raya. This is dry and sound, and forms a great part of the sherry exported to the United Kingdom. The sweetness of the sweet sherries is partly due to an inherent property of the wine (apart from any sugar they may contain) and partly to natural or added sugar. In some cases the fermentation of the must is stopped by the addition of spirit before the whole of the saccharine is converted, and the wines so prepared retain a proportion of the sugar naturally present in the must. In other cases dry wines are prepared and sugar is added to them in the form of dulce (see above). In order to prevent refermentation it is then necessary to fortify these wines with spirit. The standard of colour required for certain quantities is maintained by the addition of color. The latter is made by boiling wine down until it attains the consistency of a liqueur. The great bulk of sherry shipped to the United Kingdom is blended. The system of blending sherry in some respects recalls that of the blending of Scotch whiskies. Wines of the same type are stored in vats or soleras, and the contents of the soleras are kept as far as possible up to a particular style of colour, flavour and sweetness. Prior to shipment the contents of various soleras are blended according to the nature of the article required.
In addition to the wines described above there are others of a similar nature grown in the vicinity, such as montilla (made in Cordova) and moguer (produced on the right bank of the Guadalquivir).
The bulk of the sherry imported into the United Kingdom still consists of the heavier, fortified wines, varying in strength from 17 to 21% of absolute alcohol, although the fiscal change introduced in 1886, whereby wines not exceeding 30 proof (i.e. about 17% of alcohol) were admitted at a duty of 1s. 3d., as against 3s. for heavier wines, naturally tended to promote the shipment of the lighter dry varieties. In this connexion it is interesting to note that the importation of sherry into the United Kingdom on a considerable scale commenced in the 15th century, and that the wine shipped at that time was of the dry variety. It seems possible that sherry was the first wine known as sack in this country, but it is at least doubtful whether this word is, as some contend, derived from seck or sec, i.e. dry. According to Morewood it is more likely to have come from the Japanese Saké or Sacki (see Saké), derived in its turn from the name of the city of Osaka.
Chemically the sweet sherry differs from the natural dry light wines in that it contains relatively high proportions of alcohol, extractives, sugar and sulphates, and small quantities of acid and glycerin. This is well illustrated by the following analysis:
Analysis of Sherry (Fresenius).
|Grams per Litre.|
Malaga is a sweet wine (produced in the province of that name) which is little known in England, but enjoys considerable favour on Malaga. the Continent. It is generally, as exported, a blend made from vino dulce and vino secco, together with varying quantities of vino maestro, vino tierno, arope and color. The vino dulce and vino secco are both made as a rule from the Pedro Jimenez (white) grape, the former in much the same way as the dulce which is employed in the sherry industry, the latter by permitting fermentation to take its normal course. The vino maestro consists of must which has only fermented to a slight degree and which has been “killed” by the addition of about 17% of alcohol. The vino tierno is made by mashing raisins (6 parts) with water (2 parts) pressing, and then adding alcohol (1 part) to the must. Arope is obtained by concentrating vino dulce to one-third, and color by concentrating the arope over a naked fire. Malaga is therefore an interesting example of a composite wine. Besides the sweet variety, a coarse dry wine is also made, but this is little known abroad.
Another well-known wine district in the south of Spain is that of Rota, where a sweet red wine, known in England as tent (tinto), chiefly used for ecclesiastical purposes, is produced.
Wines of the Centre and North.—While the most important Spanish wines are those grown in the southern province of Andalusia, the central and northern districts also produce wine in considerable quantity, and much of this is of very fair quality. Thus in the central district of Val de Peñas and in the Rioja region (situated between Old Castile and Navarre) in the north-east are produced red wines which in regard to vinosity, body and in some other respects resemble the heavier clarets or burgundies of France—although not possessing the delicacy and elegance of the latter. They are shipped in some quantity to the United Kingdom as Spanish “claret” or Spanish “burgundy.” The most important industry, outside the southern districts, is, however, that in Catalonia, where, in the neighbourhood of the town of that name, the wine known as Tarragona or Spanish “port” is produced. The finest Tarragona (which much resembles port) is made in the Priorato region, about 15 m. inland.
Wines of Portugal
In the north-east of Portugal, not far from the town of Oporto—from which it takes its name and whence it is exported—is produced the wine, unique in its full-bodied and generous character, known as port.
Port is grown in the Alto Douro district, a rugged tract of land some 30 to 40 m. long by 10 m. wide, which commences at a point Port. on the river Douro some 60 m. above Oporto. The character of the Alto Douro is extremely mountainous and rugged. J. L. W. Thudichum, in his Treatise on Wines, gives a striking and almost poetical description of it as compared with Jerez. He says: “The vineyards of Jerez are so beautiful and productive that they might well be termed the vineyards of Venus. Undulating hills, easily accessible from all sides, are covered with a luxurious growth of vines. … Very different is the aspect of the Alto Douro. Here all is rock, gorge, almost inaccessible mountain, precipice and torrent, while over or along all these rude features of nature are drawn countless lines of stone walls by which man makes or supports the soil in which the vines find their subsistence. I thought that if Jerez was the vineyard of Venus, this Alto Douro vineyard must be termed the vineyard of Hercules.” The vineyards are, in fact, situated on artificially made terraces, supported by walls on the mountain sides. If this were not the case the heavy winter rains would wash away the soil. The climate of the Alto Douro is very variable. Intense heat in summer is followed by severe cold in winter. The soil is a peculiar clay-schist, on or alternating with granite, and it is to the peculiar conditions of climate and soil that port owes its remarkable qualities of colour, body and high flavour. There appears to be no predominant and distinct type of vine, such as is the case in other viticultural districts, but a number of varieties, mostly yielding grapes of a medium size are common to the Douro vineyards. The method of cultivation is generally that of a rational low culture, and in this respect differs from that employed in other parts of the country, where the vines are either trained on trees or over trellis-work at some height from the ground.
Vinification.—The process of converting the Alto Douro grapes into wine differs in some material particulars from those employed elsewhere. The grapes are cut and then conveyed in baskets by the Gallegos (as the labourers who come specially from Galicia in Spain for this purpose are termed) to the winery. Here the stalks are removed, generally by a machine similar to the French égrappoir, and the grapes then placed in the lagar. This is a square stone vessel of considerable size made to hold up to fifteen pipes (the pipe equals 115 gallons) of wine. It is roughly 2 ft. deep and from 3 to 10 yds. wide. The grapes are first trodden for a period varying from twenty-four hours upwards, and are then allowed to ferment in the lagar itself. When the fermentation has reached a certain point it is generally the custom to again tread the must in order to extract as much colour as possible from the skins. In order to preserve the sweet quality of the wine, fermentation is not permitted to continue beyond a certain point. When this is reached the wine is drawn from the lagar over a strainer or some similar arrangement into vats yielding from five to thirty pipes. The murk remaining in the lagar is then pressed by means of a lever or beam press with which this vessel is fitted. In order to prevent the wine from fermenting further and so becoming dry, from 4 to 5 volumes of brandy are added to every 100 volumes of wine in the vats. The alcohol employed for this purpose is as a rule of high quality and made solely from wine. When, after the approach of the cold weather, the lees have dropped, the wines are racked and a further addition of brandy is made. The second racking takes place in March or April, and the wine is now placed in casks and sent to Oporto, where it is stored in large over-ground buildings termed lodges. A further addition of brandy is generally added before shipment. The great bulk of the wine is stored for many years before shipping, but this does not apply to the commoner varieties, nor to the finest wines, which, being the produce of a specific year, are shipped unblended and as a vintage wine. The most famous vintages of recent times were those of 1847, 1851, 1863, 1868, 1870, 1873, 1878, 1881, 1884 and 1887. A white port is also made in the Alto Douro, and this, although little known in England, is exported in considerable quantities to Germany and Russia. The white port is grown in vineyards which are not quite so favoured as regards position as the red port growths. White port is made from white grapes, and a peculiarity of its manufacture is that the must is frequently fermented in the presence of the skins, which is most unusual in the case of white wines. This gives a certain stringency to white port, which is characteristic of the wine.
Diseases.—The Alto Douro has from time to time been sadly ravaged by the oidium and phylloxera. The former first made its appearance about the middle of the 19th century, and reached a climax in 1856, when only about 15,000 pipes, that is, about one-sixth of the usual quantity, was vintaged. In consequence of this, the exportation of port dropped from over 40,000 pipes in 1856 to about 16,000 pipes in 1858. Since then oidium has reappeared from time to time, but the remedy of spraying with finely divided sulphur, which was discovered at the time of the epidemic, has enabled the wine farmers to keep it under. The phylloxera, which appeared in Alto Douro in about 1868, also did enormous damage, and at one time reduced the yield to about one-half of the normal. At one time the position appeared to be desperate, particularly in view of the fact that the farmers refused to believe that the trouble was due to anything other than the continuous drought of successive dry seasons, but at the present time, after much expenditure of energy and capital, the condition of affairs is once more fairly satisfactory.
Port Wine Trade.—The port wine trade is of considerable importance to the United Kingdom not only because the chief trade in this wine is with that country, but also because a very large proportion of the capital invested in the industry is English. It is probable that the English capital locked up in the port industry amounts to some 2 millions sterling. In the period preceding the 'seventies of the last century practically the whole of the wine exported from Oporto came to Great Britain. Thus in the year 1864 there were exported to Great Britain 29,942 pipes and to the rest of the world 5677 pipes. The trade with the rest of the world, however, has gradually grown since then, the figures being as follows:—
Exports of Wine from Oporto.
of the World.
The growth of the export trade from Oporto with the rest of the world is principally due to the enormous increase in the quantity of wine sent to South America, chiefly Brazil, but only a small proportion of this (probably one-eighth) is port wine proper. The bulk of it consists of wine from the Minho and Beira districts. These facts also account for the apparent anomaly that the exports from Oporto are much higher than the total production of wine in the Alto Douro. At the present time the average production of the Alto Douro is about 50,000 pipes. During the last decade it was at a maximum in 1904, when 70,000 pipes were produced, and at a minimum in 1903, when only 18,000 pipes were obtained. The value of the port taken by the United Kingdom was in the year 1906 over one million sterling, that is, rather less than half of the total value of all the French wines imported, but more than double the value of the total of Spanish wines.
The chemical features of interest in port are the relatively high proportions of alcohol (the bulk of the wine imported into the United Kingdom containing some 18 to 22% of alcohol), sugar and tannin. The sugar varies considerably according to the vintage, but as a rule amounts to from 7% to 15%.
Other Portuguese Wines.—The wines of the Alto Douro only form a small proportion of the total quantity of wine produced in Portugal. The main wine-growing district outside that of Oporto is in the neighbourhood of Lisbon. The chief varieties are those grown at Torres Vedras, which are of a coarse claret type; at Collares, where a wine of a somewhat higher quality is produced; at Carcavellos, at the mouth of the Tagus; and at Bucellas. In the latter district is produced a white wine from the Riessling grape, which is commonly known in the United Kingdom as Bucellas Hock.
As far as the United Kingdom is concerned, the Madeira wine industry is mainly of interest in that it was largely developed by Madeira. and is still chiefly in the hands of British merchants. The shipments to the United Kingdom, however, which reached a maximum in 1820, when over half a million gallons were imported, has fallen off to one-tenth of that amount, and the consumption in these islands was barely 20,000 gallons in 1906. This falling away in the taste for Madeira is partly ascribable to fashion and partly to the temporary devastation of the vineyards by the phylloxera in the middle of last century. The re-establishment of the vineyards and the consequent development of the industry did not, however, lead to a renewal of the trade on the former scale with this country. The output in 1906 amounted to 10,000 pipes (Madeira pipe = 92 gallons) and the export to 6010 pipes, of which quantity 1951 pipes went to Germany, 1680 pipes to France, 796 pipes to Russia and 755 pipes to the United Kingdom. Madeira, like sherry and port, is a fortified wine. The method of vinification is similar to that employed in other parts of Portugal, but the method employed for hastening the maturation of the wine is peculiar and characteristic. This consists in subjecting the wine, in buildings specially designed for this purpose, to a high temperature for a period of some months. The temperature vanes from 100° to 140° F. according to the quality of the wine, the lower temperature being used for the better wines. The buildings in which this process is carried out are built of stone and are divided into compartments heated by means of hot air derived from a system of stoves and flues. Much of the characteristic flavour of Madeira is due to this practice, which hastens the mellowing of the wine and also tends to check secondary fermentation inasmuch as it is, in effect, a mild kind of pasteurization.
Wines of Germany
Although the quantity of wine produced in Germany is comparatively small and subject to great variations, the quality of the finer wines is, in successful years, of a very high order. In fact Germany is the only country which produces natural (i.e. unfortified) wines of so high a class as to be comparable with—although of an entirely different character from—the wines of France. The finer wines possess great breed and distinction, coupled with a very fine and pronounced bouquet, and in addition they are endowed with the—in the case of lighter wines—rare quality of stability. The great inequalities observed in the different vintages and the exceptionally fine character of the wines in good years are, generally, due to the same cause, namely, to the geographical position of the vineyards. The wines of the Rhine are grown in the most northerly latitude at which viticulture is successful in Europe, and consequently, when the seasons are not too unpropitious, they display the hardiness and distinction characteristic of northern products. During the period 1891-1905 the total production of Germany has averaged roughly 62 million gallons, attaining a maximum of 111 million gallons in 1896 and a minimum of 16 million gallons in 1891. The trade with the United Kingdom is now a very considerable one, amounting in 1906 to roughly 1¼ million gallons to the value of three-quarters of a million sterling.
The wines grown in the Rheingau, Rheinhessen and in parts of the Palatinate are generally known by the name of Rhine wines, although Rhine wines. many of these are actually produced on tributaries of that river. Thus the well-known Hochheimer, from which the curious generic term “hock” employed in England for Rhine wines is derived, is made in the vicinity of the little village of that name situated on the Main, a number of miles above the junction of the latter with the Rhine. The Rheingau district proper stretches along the north bank of the Rhine from Bingen on the west to Mainz on the east. The most important wines in this region are those of the Johannisberg and of the Steinberg. The vineyards of the former are said to have been planted originally in the 11th century, but were destroyed during the Thirty Years' War. They were replanted by the abbot of Fulda in the 18th century. During the French Revolution the property passed into the hands of the prince of Orange, but after the battle of Jena, Napoleon deprived him of it and presented it to Marshal Kellermann. On the fall of Napoleon, the emperor of Austria took possession of the vineyard and gave it to Prince Metternich. At the present time the property still belongs to the descendants of the latter. The vineyards of Steinberg belong to the state of Prussia. The vineyards of these two properties are tended with extraordinary care, and the wines, of which several qualities are made in each case, fetch exceedingly high prices. The finest wines are produced in a manner somewhat similar to that employed for making the Sauternes. The grapes are allowed to become over-ripe and are then selected by hand. This process produces the so-called Auslese wines, which frequently fetch as much as 30s. or 40s. a bottle. The other most important wines produced in the Rheingau and its extensions are those of Marcobrunn, Geisenheim, Rüdesheim and Hochheim. The most important wines produced in Rheinhessen (on the left bank of the Rhine and south of the Rheingau) are those of Liebfraumilch, Nierstein, Oppenheim, Bodenheim, Laubenheim and Scharlachberg. In the Palatinate the most important growths are those of Forst, Deidesheim and Dürkheim.
The wines of the Moselle are of a somewhat different character to those of the Rhine. Whereas the Rhine wines of the finer descriptions Moselle. are as a rule fairly full bodied and of marked vinosity, the Moselle wines are mostly light and of a somewhat delicate nature. While the Rhine wines generally improve in bottle for a lengthy period, the Moselles are as a rule at their best when comparatively fresh. Indeed, many connoisseurs hold that when a Moselle ceases to show signs of the somewhat prolonged secondary fermentation, characterized by the slight prickling sensation produced on the palate (caused by the presence of bubbles of carbonic acid gas in the wine), that it has passed its best. The best-known growths of the Moselle are those of Brauneberg, Bernkastel, Piesport and Zeltingen. Some of the tributaries of the Moselle also produce wines which in quality approach those of the parent river. Among these may be cited the growths of Scharzhofberg, Geisberg and Bockstein.
Large quantities of wine are produced in Alsace-Lorraine, Baden and Württemberg, but the majority of these have little interest, inasmuch as they are used only for home consumption. Among the wines, however, which are well known may be mentioned the Franconian growths, amongst which the celebrated Stein wine, which is grown at the foot of the citadel of the town of Würzburg, and in the grand duchy of Baden the celebrated growths of Affenthal (red) and Markgräfler.
Practically all the important wines of Germany are white, although there are a few red growths of some quality, for instance that of Assmannshausen in the Rheingau. The latter is produced from the black Burgundy vine, the Pineau. In the Rheingau the predominant vine is the Riessling. This plant appears to be indigenous to the Rhine valley, and the finest wines are made exclusively from its grapes. In the hope of reproducing the characteristic of the Rhine wines, the Riessling has been planted in many young wine-producing countries, such as Australia, California and the Cape, and not entirely without success. It thrives best on rocky mountain slopes freely exposed to the sun, and requires a relatively high temperature to reach perfect maturity. In the lower lands, therefore, it is customary to plant, in addition to the Riessling, vines such as Österreicher and Kleinberger, which mature more readily than the former. Other vines, such as the Orléans and the Traminer, are also found in small quantities in the Rheingau. On the Moselle the Riessling and the Kleinberger are the chief growths. The vintage on the Rhine is, in order to permit the grapes to acquire the “over-ripeness” necessary to the peculiar character of the wines, generally very late, rarely taking place before the end of October. The process of vinification is peculiar in that fermentation takes place in relatively small casks, the result being that there are frequently marked differences in the produce of the same growth and vintage.
The very great variations which are shown by the same growths of different vintages makes it impracticable in the case of the German white wines to give representative analyses of them. Comparing the fine wines of the better vintages with, for instance, the red wines of the Gironde, the main features of interest are the relatively high proportions of acid and glycerin and the low proportion of tannin which they contain.
Wines of Italy
Italy ranks second to France as regards the quantity of wine produced, but in respect to quality a comparison is scarcely possible, inasmuch as the Italian wines are on the whole of a poor character. They display many of the features characteristic of southern wines, showing either an excessive vinosity coupled with a somewhat crude bouquet, or where the alcoholic strength is not high, a decided lack of stability. The reason for this is to be sought partly in the unscientific methods of cultivation, and partly, in many districts, in the haphazard methods of vinification employed. The vines are to a great extent still trained on trees or trellis-work, or allowed to grow among the rest of the vegetation in the most casual manner. It must be stated, nevertheless, that of recent years a decided improvement has set in in some quarters owing to the lively interest which the Italian government has taken in the subject, principally owing to the important export trade to America, Switzerland and other countries. The trade with the United States, which in 1887 amounted to little over 120,000 gallons, has risen to considerably over a million gallons. The exports to the Argentine Republic amount to roughly 4 million gallons, and to Switzerland from 4 to 8 million gallons. The trade with the United Kingdom is small, amounting to little over a quarter of a million gallons annually, and of a value rather less than £50,000. The total exports of Italy are on the average not far from 40 million gallons. The wines of northern Italy are on the whole of good colour, but somewhat harsh. Among the best-known wines in Piedmont are the Barolos and the wines of Asti, which are made from a species of muscatel grapes. They are of an agreeable flavour, and this especially applies to the white descriptions. A considerable quantity of sparkling wine is manufactured in this district. Among the best-known wines of Lombardy are the Passella wines of Valtelina. In central Italy the best growths are those of Chianti, Pomino, Montalcino, Carmignano and Montepulciano. Tuscany produces the greater part of these wines, which are of good but not excessive alcoholic strength, containing as a rule some 10½% to 11½% of alcohol. The Montepulciano wines have a brilliant colour and high bouquet, and are of a sweet, luscious flavour. The wines of Chianti, near Siena, are often described as being of the claret type, but actually they are somewhat similar to the growths of Beaujolais. The best Italian wines, however, are probably those grown in the Neapolitan district. The best of these is the celebrated Lacrima Christi, which is grown on the slopes of Vesuvius from a vine bearing the same name. It has a fine red colour, and unites delicacy and a high bouquet with a sweet elegant taste. The white muscat wines of Vesuvius are also of good quality, and the island of Capri produces some excellent wine. Perhaps the best known of Italian wines in the United Kingdom is that produced in the neighbourhood of Marsala in the island of Sicily, which bears the name of the town from which it is exported. Marsala is a fortified white wine which is grown and made with considerable care. It is somewhat similar in character to the wines of Madeira, but its character also recalls some of the sherry types. It is vatted and blended in much the same way as sherry, and there is a considerable trade in this wine with the United Kingdom. In the neighbourhood of Palermo, Muscat and Malvoisie wines of very fair quality are made. The islands of Sardinia and Elba produce considerable quantities of wine, some of which is of fair quality.
Wines of Austria-Hungary
In point of quantity Austria-Hungary takes the fourth place among the wine-producing nations. The average production for the period 1901-1905 was 178 million gallons. Of this quantity Austria is responsible for roughly three-fifths and Hungary for the remaining two-fifths. The character of the Hungarian wine is, however, much higher than that of the Austrian growths. The quality of the bulk of the Austro-Hungarian wines has been improved of late years, principally owing to the endeavours of the respective governments to introduce scientific and modern methods among the wine-farmers. Since the recovery of the Hungarian vineyards from the phylloxera considerable efforts have been made to develop an export trade, but so far the wines of Hungary are not generally known in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, Hungary produces at least one class of wine which may be considered of international importance, namely, the famous Tokay. This is produced in the mountainous Hegyalia region in a district which has the town of Tokay for its centre. The vine from which Tokay is made is the Furmint. The finest varieties of Tokay are made entirely or mainly from Furmint grapes which have been allowed to become over-ripe in a manner somewhat similar to that obtaining in the Sauternes districts. In the case of Tokay, however, the transformation of the grape into what is practically a raisin is not brought about by the intervention of any particular micro-organism. The sun is sufficiently powerful to cause the evaporation of the water in the grape through the skin without any preliminary loosening of the latter by the action of the botrytis cinerea or any other micro-organism. The most precious variety of Tokay is the so-called essence. This is produced by placing the finest grapes in casks and drawing off the juice which exudes naturally as a result of the weight of the material. The Tokay essence is, even after many years, still a partially fermented wine, rarely containing more than 7% to 9% of alcohol. Indeed, it may be said that the main fermentation rarely, if ever, reaches a climax. Another variety of Tokay is the so-called szamorod. This is produced by pressing a mixture of dried grapes and fully ripe grapes and fermenting the must so obtained. It contains up to about 14% of alcohol and relatively little sugar. The most common kind of Tokay is the so-called Ausbruch wine. This is obtained by extracting dried grapes with the must of ordinary grapes. According to the amount of dried grapes (zibebs) employed, the wine is termed 1 to 5 “buttig.” The Ausbruch wines take from three to four years to ripen, and they may contain from 12% to 15% of alcohol and a little or a fair quantity of sugar, these factors varying according to the vintage and the number of “butts” of zibebs employed. Another variety of Tokay is the so-called máslás. The term is applied to different varieties of wines according to the district, but in the neighbourhood of Tokay it generally refers to wines obtained by treating szamorod or Ausbruch residues with dry wine. In the neighbourhood of Ménes sweet red wines produced by the Ausbruch system are also termed máslás. Hungary produces a variety of other wines both strong, such as those of central Hungary, and relatively light, such as those of Croatia and Transylvania. The wines produced at Carlowitz (on the Danube), some 40 m. north-west of Belgrade, are somewhat stronger. They have a flavour somewhat resembling port, but are coarser, and lack the fine bouquet of the latter. The other chief vine-growing countries of the empire are Dalmatia, Lower Austria and Styria. Some of the Dalmatian wines are of fair quality, and somewhat resemble Burgundy.
Wines of the United States
The cultivation of the vine has made very rapid strides in the United States during the past half-century. Whereas in 1850 the production amounted to little more than a million gallons, the output to-day is, in good years, not far short of 50 million gallons. The result has been that the domestic wines have now very largely displaced the foreign product for ordinary beverage purposes. At the same time, there is no reason to believe that the finer European wines will be entirely displaced, inasmuch as these are characterized by qualities of delicacy and breed which cannot be reproduced at will. At the same time, there is no doubt that much of the wine produced in the United States is of very fair quality, and this is largely due to the fact that the Americans have been at great pains to introduce the latest scientific methods in regard to the vine and wine-making. Thus in parts of California, where high temperatures are liable to prevail during the vintage, the system—first employed in Algeria—of cooling the must during fermentation to the proper temperature by means of a series of pipes in which iced water circulates is now largely employed. The use of pure culture yeast derived from many of the most famous European vineyards has also done much towards improving the quality. In California there are, in addition to the native growths, vines from almost every European wine-growing centre, and the produce of these goes by such names as Riesling, Hermitage, Sauternes, Chianti, &c., in accordance with the district of origin of the vine. California is the largest wine-growing state, as the Pacific slope seems particularly suitable to vine-growing. At the present time there are about 280,000 acres under the vine in California, and the number of vines is about 90 millions. The annual production is about 30 million gallons, of which rather more than one-half is dry wine. A good deal of sweet wine is also made, particularly in the Fresno district, where, however, a large proportion of the grapes is grown with a view to making raisins. Following California, New York and Ohio are the most important wine-producing states. The centre of the wine trade of Ohio is at Sandusky on the shores of Lake Erie. Here, as well as at Cleveland, “champagnes” and “clarets” and “sparkling Catawba” are the chief wines produced. The latter was first made by Nicolas Longworth of Cincinnati. The Catawba is the chief growth of the Lake Erie district; the other important vines being the Delaware and Concord. New York state, in which wine has been grown from a very early period, produces roughly three-quarters of all the domestic “champagnes.” There are about 75,000 acres under the vine in this state, and roughly 5 million gallons are produced annually. The wines grown on the Pacific slope are generally of a mild and sweet character, resembling in general nature the wines of southern Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal). In the eastern and middle states the wines produced are of a lighter type and of drier flavour, and are somewhat similar to the growths of Germany and France. At the present time America exports a considerable quantity of wine, and there is some trade in the United Kingdom in Californian “claret.”
Wines of the British Empire
The production of the British empire is very small, amounting to roughly 10 million gallons, and this is produced almost entirely in the Cape of Good Hope and in the Australian Commonwealth. At present the average vintage of the Cape and of Australia is in each case roughly 5 to 6 million gallons. In 1905 New South Wales produced 831,000, Victoria 1,726,000, and South Australia 2,846,000 gallons respectively. The trade of Australia with the United Kingdom is now considerable, having increased from 168,188 gallons in 1887 to 622,836 gallons in 1906. It is possible that the trade would grow much more rapidly than it has done if it were practicable to ship the lighter varieties of wines. These, which would be suitable for ordinary beverage purposes, cannot as a rule stand the passage through the Red Sea, and it is therefore only possible to ship the heavier or fortified wines. It is doubtful, therefore, whether the products of the British Empire will ever displace European wines in the United Kingdom on a really large scale, for they cannot compete at present as regards quality with the finer wines of Europe, nor, for the reason stated, with the lighter beverage wines. The quality of the wine produced in the Cape and in Australia has improved very much of recent years, chiefly owing to the introduction of scientific methods of wine cultivation and of wine-making in much the same manner as has been the case in California. The red wines of Australia, particularly those of South Australia, somewhat resemble French wines, being intermediate between claret and burgundy as regards their principal characteristics. There are several types of white wines, some resembling French Sauternes and Chablis and others the wines of the Rhine. It has been recognized, however, that it is impossible to actually reproduce the character of the European wines, and it is now generally held to be desirable to recognize the fact that Australian and Cape wines represent distinct types, and to sell them as such without any reference to the European parent types from which they have been derived.
Considerable quantities of wine are produced in the Balkan states, but the bulk of this is of a coarse description and only fit for local consumption. The average yield of Bulgaria and Rumania is probably some 30 to 40 million gallons for each country, but in some years it is much larger. Thus in 1896 Rumania produced no less than 101 million gallons and Bulgaria 81 million gallons. The wine industry in Greece, which in ancient times and during the middle ages was of great importance, has now become, at any rate in point of quality, quite insignificant. At the present time a great part of the industry is devoted to the cultivation of the currant vine (Vitis corinthiaca). There is a considerable export of currants and raisins and concentrated wine must from this country. Many of the islands of the Mediterranean, from which the ancients drew their supplies of wine, such as Chios, Cos, Tenedos, Crete and Cyprus, still produce considerable quantities of wine, but the bulk of this is scarcely to the modern European taste. In Asia wine is produced, according to Thudichum, principally in Caucasia and Armenia. In Persia, also, wines are made, especially in the Shiraz district. Russia also produces a small quantity of wine, principally in the Crimea. (P. S.)