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has not passed through an English wine-merchant's hands, as many casks are shipped direct to private people. This arises from the number of military and naval men who have been stationed in the Mediterranean, or others who have travelled in Italy or Sicily, and become acquainted with this wine.
Importers are likely to make erroneous calculations of the cost of a pipe when comparing it with sherry; for the former contains only 93 gallons, while the latter is 108 ; so that if a pipe of marsala costs 241. the same quantity of sherry at the same price per butt, would cost only 201. 13s. The quantity of wine produced in Sicily is usually estimated at about 200,000 pipes; and of these about a fifth part is suited for exportation. I have it, however, from excellent experienced authority, that, if the demand arose, there would be little difficulty in making double the present quantity, for there are thousands of acres suited to the vine.
Vines are slow of growth, and old habits are difficult to be eradicated, as we well know by our own agricultural history.
Considerable shipments are made to Marseilles and Cette, where it is used for assisting in making up the • London particular,' 'madeira,' and sherry,' which grow in such abundance in the cellars of those
The accompanying sketch represents the stores of one of the principal houses at Marsala.
It is seen by the Table of consumption, &c., that
the consumption and the per-centage which marsala bore to all other kinds was :
In 1831, consumption 259,916 gallons, and 4:18 per-centage. 1841, 401,439
6.49 1851, 394,225
3.13 1860, 209,154
2.84 1861, 231,270
2.13 1862, 214,125
2.18 1863, 276,280
Its Wines disappointing-Climate and Soil offer high Expectations
Vino d'Asti-Montepulciano—Extracts from · Roba di Roma,' and from a French Wine Journal-Progress in Wine-making.
BEFORE offering my own remarks about Italian
wines, I give the following extract from Mommson's History of Rome, a very profound and interesting work:
Whether the culture of the vine came to Italy along with the Italians, or was introduced in very early times by Greek settlers, cannot be positively determined; but the supposition that its culture had begun before the coming of the Greeks is supported by the fact that the winefestival (Vinalia) i.e. the wine festival of opening the casks, which subsequently fell on April 23rd, was celebrated in honour of Father Jovis, not in honour of the wine god of more recent times who was borrowed from the Greeks, Father Liber. The very ancient legend which represents Mezentius, king of Caere, as levying a wine tax from the Latins or the Rutuli, and the various versions of the widely-spread Italian story which affirms that the Celts were induced to cross the Alps, in consequence of their coming to the knowledge of the noble fruits of Italy, especially of the grapes and of wine, are indications of the pride of the Latins in their glorious vine, the envy of all their neighbours. A careful system of vine husbandry was early and generally inculcated by the Latin priests. In Rome the vintage did not begin until the supreme priest of the Community, the Flamen Dialis, had granted permission for it, and had himself made a beginning by breaking off a cluster of grapes with his own hands; in like manner the ritual law of Tusculum forbade the sale of new wine, until the priests had proclaimed the festival of opening the casks. The early prevalence of the culture of the vine is likewise attested not only by the general adoption of wine-libations in the sacrificial ritual, but also by the ordinance of the Roman priests, promulgated as a law of King Numa, that men should present, in libation to the gods, no wine obtained from uncut grapes; just as, to introduce the beneficial practice of drying the grain, they prohibited the offering of grain undried.
Viewing the geographical position of Italy, and knowing that it is mountainous and hilly from north to south, it is surprising it has never yet acquired the reputation of producing good wine.
Not having been in that country, I cannot express myself with the same confidence as of others in which I have travelled ; but, after having tasted the growths from various localities, I must say I have not seen one that is fine. The vino d'Asti is praised, but very undeservedly, I think. The Lachryma Christi is usually coarse, in taste and flavour. The Montepulciano is sweet, but not to be compared to a Frontignan, or Rivesaltes. It has had, however, the good fortune to be highly praised by Redi, in his celebrated poem, Bacco in Toscana ; or, Bacchus in Tuscany :