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CHAPTER XVI.

CRIMEA.

Prince Woronzow's Vineyards— Massandra-Aïdanil - Aloupka

Fine, Pure Wines—Memorandum of Tasting.

ON

N the southern coast of the Crimea there are

three valuable properties belonging to Prince Woronzow. It is well known that his father, the late prince, devoted much care and money

in

procuring the finest vines and the most experienced cultivators and cellarmen from France, Spain, and Germany. The wine produced on his estates of Massandra, Aïdanil, and Aloupka, both red and white, is of very high quality and bouquet, but so delicate that it requires to be tasted in the open air to be fully appreciated.

I believe that no spirit is added to those Crimean wines, and that they are kept in the wood until quite mature.

The average annual produce is stated to be about 5,000 gallons of red, and the same of white. I cannot learn the estimate for other vineyards, nor have I tasted others that I could rely upon as being genuine.

PRINCE WORONZOW'S VINEYARDS.

437

The following is my memorandum of tasting :1st. Massandra, white, 1857; light, soft, fine, high

flavour. 2nd. Aïdanil, white, 1857; fuller than the first ; very

fine wine, great flavour. 3rd. Massandra, white, 1856; exceedingly fine, high

flavour. 4th. Aloupka, white, 1856; very perfect. 5th. Aïdanil, white, 1856; a little sweet, very fine,

delicate, high flavour. 6th. Aloupka, red, 1858 ; great body, in comparison

with the white; fine flavour, as between Bur

gundy and Claret. 7th. Aloupka, red, 1856; full body, flavour, but taste

and flavour as if a blend.

CHAPTER XVII.

MADEIRA.

Madeira Thirty Years ago-Now greatly changed -Importation

Trifling-Replaced by Sherry-Imitations from all Quarters-High Prices-Replanting necessary-Consumption and Percentage from 1831 to 1863.

THE following account of this island was furnished

to me about thirty years ago by a friend who had long resided in it :

Madeira, from its geographical situation (long. 16° W., lat. 32° N.), the genial heat of its climate, and the regularity of its seasons, is capable of producing not only all European, but almost all tropical, fruits and vegetables. Wine, however, being its staple article of production and exportation, of which it produces a great variety, of most delicious flavour and the finest qualities, deserves a more minute description.

When the Portuguese discovered Madeira they found it entirely covered with wood (madeira is the Portuguese word for wood). They selected a site on the south side of the island, at Funchal Bay, for the capital of the colony, than which a more delightful spot could not have been chosen ; and having set fire to the woods (as the speediest mode of clearing

;

TRAINING OF THE VINES IN MADEIRA.

439

the land), it is said they continued to burn for several years. This having, of course, denuded that side of the island of wood, they found, after planting the vines, there was no natural support for them, and they adopted the method of training them on a framework of canes, raised from three to six feet from the ground—a method which prevails at the present day. On the north side, on the contrary, the woods still remain, and the vines are trained on the trees, and form a delightful shade from the summer heats.

From the mountainous surface of the island, and the periodical rains that fall so abundantly, it will be readily understood that a vast quantity of the soil would be washed away were precautions not taken to retain it. These consist principally in the erection of stone walls, built across the front of the mountains above each other at convenient distances, which keep in the earth as it is washed down by the rains, or is tumbled down in masses, which always happens more or less during the wet season.

This earth is a composition of a soft rock (pedra molla), which never becomes a fine mould, but is generally in a crumbly state, like small coal. In this the vines are planted, and there they flourish best ; as, from the loose nature of the earth, the moisture gets more readily to the roots of the vines, and the sun's rays penetrate with more immediate effect. The training, trimming, and pruning of the vines occupy the husbandman from the time they begin to expand their luxuriant foliage till the fermentation of the grape ; they are then left to come to maturity, sooner or later, as the weather may be more or less favourable. Various are the appearances of the vineyard during the year; in the rainy season, being cleared of foliage, and the cane framework blanched by the rain, wind, and sun, the whole face of the mountains, occupied by vineyards, looks as if covered with a vast net. This is the appearance presented from the beginning of October to the middle of March, when the vines begin to bud, and in a few weeks put out the luxuriant foliage that makes these same bleak mountains exhibit, as far up as the vine will grow, a thick mass of that beautiful green which is so peculiar to the vine.

Next come the flowering months, May and June, when it is a treat to walk through the vineyards ; the delightful scent of the flower, strongly resembling that of mignonette—as indeed it does also in appearance-makes you fancy yourself in a flower-garden. The great fear of injury to the vines is in June, when it sometimes happens that there is such a degree of cold—it is even called frost—during the nights of that month, as suffices to cause a complete blight; but this rarely happens. When it does not, the rapidity with which the grapes come to maturity is astonishing. Indeed, the progress of vegetation in this island is wonderful ; a piece of land may be ploughed, sown with wheat, and reaped in three months.

The vintage commences in the south towards the

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