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Bella Arianna con bianca mano
che di Lieo
Montepulciano d'ogni vino è il rè! · Montepulciano is the king of all wines !' It was natural for Redi to make such a boast, for he was born close to the hill on which it is produced.
Throughout the whole country, vines are grown and wine made; and I do not believe that better qualities could be produced in any part of Europe ; but it must never be forgotten that there is no plant which requires such incessant care as the vine, and no operation demanding more skill, experience, and patience than making wine. The exercise of patience requires the combination of capital, and capital seeks a compensating benefit.
In countries where wine is so abundant that all may drink it, little money value is attached to it, and it is consequently neglected ; a remark which applies to every wine-land, where there is not an external demand.
In other countries and cities, natives and foreigners have established themselves, buying from the growers,
, laying in stocks to mature, to sell in the markets of the world ; thus remunerating the proprietors and farmers for their labour, and encouraging production, rivalry, and improvement.
The only way, apparently, to account for this not having yet been done in Italy, is the disordered state of the country until a very late period. But even already, influential Italians are directing attention to this source of wealth, and I have no doubt that, ere long, the trade in Italian wines will be iinportant.
Few in England, even wine-merchants, have any idea of the anxious and constant care which wines need before they have been brought to the mature state in which they have hitherto been shipped to us; and, unless dealers acquire and practise that care, they must import at much higher prices than others who purchase new wine, and ripen it in their own cellars. It will give some idea of the correctness of this statement if I translate here the advice in a French wine-journal, warning all of the danger of the peculiarly warm winter of 1863.
But it is the cellar which demands the most anxious and intelligent care, and the operations usual in March must be employed in February. Thus, the racking and fining ought not to be delayed. Vaults and cellars should be thoroughly ventilated, and the atmosphere impregnated with sulphuric acid gas, either by burning matches or by dispersing the flour of sulphur, to destroy the fermentative principles in the air. In the present atmospheric circumstances, it will be unpardonable in proprietors or head cellarmen to intrust to their men the examination of the casks, hoops, chimes, and especially the bungs.
If the bung frets, it shows working of the wine, and a
AN INSTRUCTIVE LETTER.
hole must be immediately bored by its side to let the enemy escape. If a stave sweats, enlarge the hole, and stop it with a fosset. If the hoops show white spots, rub them off, and inspect them every day, for there may be danger of their giving way.
So much for the exterior : and now for the contents, which is certainly not less important and urgent. Instead of filling up the casks once a week, do so every three days. Examine the limpidity of the wine in different depths of the cask. Rack without delay, if the lowest is full of lees. Rack into well-sulphured casks, give a smart fining, even if it should impoverish the wine. A weak wine is preferable to one that is going wrong.
This, as well as much more which might be added, shows that the art of wine-making is not so very easy as is generally supposed; and the Italians, who desire to gain a reputation, would do well to get some intelligent vine-growers and wine-makers, and cellarmen from France and Germany.
The following letter from an Italian, in reply to enquiries as to wine-making in Italy, will be read with interest and instruction :
The way to make wine with grapes is to stomp well them in a tob with a hol and spicket in the bottom and put that juse in a barel where bas been wine or whiskey or liquors of some kind otherwise the wine will stink of wood. Let them boil for forty days making the barel full every day and longer you let him stay older him comes.
The annexed description of a vintage in the neighbourhood of Rome is from Roba di Roma, a most interesting work, by Mr. Storey, the celebrated Ame
rican sculptor :
It is fortunate for the happiness of mankind that all are not prosaic, and matter-of-fact, and that some indulge in flights of fancy, and, by communicating these, impart the highest sensations of pleasure. How enviable are they, compared with persons like myself, devoid of the imaginative powers, and thus lost to one of the purest enjoyments !
While desiring to think and to dream of the handsome vintagers, with their wives and daughters in their tasteful attire, there intrudes itself the remembrance of what I have seen in other lands, and the sketch at the beginning of the book.
In the latter part of September comes the vintage festival, which is the most antique and picturesque of all. It is the remnant of the old Roman Dionysia, purged of its ancient licentiousness, but retaining many of its most salient peculiarities. Bacchus alone, of all the antique gods of Rome, still survives. In some places on the confines of Naples his oscilla or masks are still hung upon the trees in the vineyards for luck, and songs are sung in his praise, and masks are worn in the procession of the vintage as in the ancient days.
Bacchus also has survived. in the speech of the people, who still swear, “per Bacco—per Dingi (Dionygi) Bacco;' and the ancient bassi relievi representing the triumphal return of Bacchus after subduing India show that this festival was the ancient prototype of the modern procession of the vintage.
The season of the vendemmia is one of great gaiety and license-a sort of saturnalia, where the tongue wags as it likes—and all sorts of liberties are taken without offence.
When · Liber Pater' gives us good wine, 'per Bacco!' shall we not be gay? The season is come
the grapes STOREY'S ROBA DI ROMA.
strain their ripe purple skins with wine--they have drunk in the sunshine of all the summer—they hang in transparent clusters on the rusting vines, their seed swimming in rich juice- and the time to pluck them has come. They must not be too luscious in their ripeness, or our wine will lack its flavour. So, to the vintage--and, Viva la vendemmia!
In we go among the vines. There are scores of picturesque peasants plucking grapes, with laughter and jest, and heaping them into deep baskets, till their purple bunches loll over the edge moist with juice. Some are mounted on ladders to reach the highest—some on foot below gathering the lowest—and the heavy luscious buckets, as soon as they are filled, are borne off on the head to a great basket wain, into which they are all tumbled together. The very oxen themselves seem to enjoy it, as they stand there among the vines decorated with ribbons, and waiting to bear home their sunny freight of grapes. The dogs bark, the girls laugh and slip out of the arm of the swains, who threaten them with a kiss. Stalwart creatures they are too, and able enough to guard themselves; and the smack of their hand on his cheek or back I willingly yield to him, though he takes the practical reproof with a good-natured laugh, and is ready to try his luck again when a chance offers.
When the grapes are all gathered, they are heaped into great stone vats, and, crowned with vine leaves, the peasants, bare-legged to their thighs, leap into them, and with joke and song tread down the grapes, whose rich juice runs out below into a great butt. As they crush them down, new heaps are emptied in, and it is no small exercise to keep them under. The juice spurts over them and stains them crimson-the perspiration streams from their foreheads—they pant with excitement, and as they brush away their wet hair they streak their faces with purple. When one is wearied out by this fatiguing work, another takes his place, and so the dance goes on until the best of the