« PreviousContinue »
Das Gläschen muss nun wanderen,
Vive la Compagnia !
Vive la Compagnia !
Vive la Compagnia ! It is seen by the table of consumption, &c., that the consumption, and the per-centage which Rhenish bore to all other kinds, was
In 1831, consumption 57,888 gallons and 0.93 per-centage.
In reference to this statement, it is right to observe that it does not give a correct view of the actual increase in the consumption of Rhenish, for many other wines, shipped from Rotterdam, are included under the designation of Rhenish ; but, in reality, many of them are compounds and mixtures, prepared in Holland, similar to the sherry from Hamburg.
Marsala-Soil similar to Xerez-Albariza-Barro-Argil-Excellent Red Wines-Mostly sent to America-Consumption fallen offSometimes called Bronte-Great Care of the Vines-Strong Wine wanted-Unsaleable if imported Light-Remarks about Gauges Wine-production of Sicily-Shipments to Cette and Marseilles Consumption and Per-centages from 1831 to 1863.
HE town of Marsala, whence Marsala wine derives its name, is situated on the promontory of Lilybæum, at the west corner of Sicily; where Garibaldi landed on his memorable expedition in May 1860. The vineyards extend along the coast, east and west, for about twenty-four miles, and about twelve inland.
The soil is very similar to that about Xerez, and the best wine here, as there, is grown on the albariza, or on a union of the albariza and barro, and on the barro alone. The albariza is of a yellow white colour, and chalky, consisting of carbonate of lime and argil, with oxide of iron. This is very favourable for the vine in all countries, but especially under the hot climate of Sicily; for it is an absorbent, spongy substance, loose, always fresh and open, not caking. The albariza, with the barro, forms a sandy soil mixed with a loamy red earth and gravel, and, though
not quite so valuable as the former, produces escellent wine.
The barro is sand mixed with a clayey earth and gravel, and yields a lighter quality than the others. The arena is sand on which the vine thrives well, and produces abundantly, but of a thin kind.
The bugeo is a blackish compound of clay, vegetable earth, and gravel, and is usually found in the valleys and low grounds. The produce is also very abundant, but still inferior to the arenas.
There are also red wines which are grown in the island, and are shipped largely to Italy and America, and occasionally to England. They are stout, with strong flavour, and might be of use in giving body and flavour to many kinds that require it. It is difficult to explain how Marsala has made such slow progress in England; indeed, it has retrograded, doubtless owing to the effects of the vine disease upon the price.
An impression prevails that it is grown on a volcanic soil, and has a sulphureous flavour, but there is no sulphur within a hundred miles of the places
a where it is produced.
The late enormous rise drove merchants to seek for a substitute; which was found in so-called sherries, but especially in Cape (South African), with the bounty which this enjoyed of paying only half duty. Another reason against its use, well known to every dealer, is, that when sold under its own name it is the most unprofitable of all wines.
Sometimes it is called Bronte, from the name of an estate under Mount Etna, presented to Lord Nelson.
Not even in France is there more attention paid to the vines than in many of the vineyards in the district of Marsala, and other favourite parts inland, where shippers have stores.
While the sherry houses have been lately again raising their prices, and many at the same time deteriorating the quality, the marsala houses, seeing the necessity of reducing their prices in order to recover their former position, have acted on this principle; and I am informed that, since they have done so, the sales have greatly increased. Looking to the geographical position of Sicily, its fine climate and its soil, almost exactly the same as that of Xerez, wine of as good quality might fairly be expected.
I think it might still be much improved by a change in the vines, to give finer flavour and vivacity, even if less strong; but, as I have often repeated, wineshippers and wine-merchants seek to supply the kinds that are in general demand; and the demand is for a stout kind, well-brandied, in order to blend with others, or to sell as sherry. Were a fine, delicate, slightly-brandied quality shipped, it would probably be objected to in England.
The duty on marsala is about 68 per cent., and if, instead of 2s. 6d. per gallon, it were only 1s., the percentage would still be about 25 per cent. on the cost. It is very likely that at least 20 per cent. of the Sicilian wine entered as consumed, or paid duty upon,