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Wines Of France

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 vinegrowing 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 1 875, 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 1 20 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 1003, 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 2i 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 olios. It is generally found at a depth of about 2 ft. under the better growths of the Mecloc and Graves. The subsoils of some of the other districts (C6tes and St Emilion) contain much stone in the shape of flint and quartz. The finest wines of the M&loc and Graves are largely grown on a mixture of gravel, quartz and sand with a subsoil of olios or clay. The Gironde viticultural region is divided into six main districts, namely, M4doc, Sauternes, Graves, C6tes, Entre-deux-Mers and Palus. Although properly belonging to the C6tes, 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.

Medoc. The most important subdivision of the Gironde district is that of the M6doc. It is here that the wine which is known to us as claret is produced in greatest excellence and variety. The Mdoc 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 IO m. broad. The soil varies considerably in nature, but consists mostly of gravel, quartz, limestone and sand on the surface, and of clay and olios beneath. The principal vines grown in the Mckloc are the Cabernet-Sauvignon, which is the most important, the Gros Cabernet, the Merlot, the Carmen6re, the Malbec, and the Verdpt. All these produce red wines. Very little white wine is made in the Mckloc 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 Mecloc 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 M<5doc 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 Mecloc is divided into a number of communes (such as St Julien, Margaux, Pauillac, etc.), 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 Mecloc 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 M6doc 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 classes " or " classed growths " and the bourgeois, artisan and peasant growths. The " classed growths," which include all the most famous wines of the Mecloc, 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 Mckloc (i.e. claret) together with the names of the communes in which they are situated.

CLASSED GROWTHS OF THE Mrx>c (CLARET)

First Growths. Chateau Lafite, Pauillac. Margaux, Margaux. Latour, Pauillac.

Second Growths. Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac.

Rauzan-Se>gla, Margaux.

Rauzan-Gassies, Margaux.

L<k>ville-Lascases, St Julien.

Leoville-Poyferre", St Julien.

Ldoville-Barton, St Julien.

Durfort-Vivens, Margaux.

Lascombes, Margaux.

Gruaud-Larose-Sarget, St Julien.

Gruaud Larose, St Julien.

Brane-Cantenac, Cantenac.

Pichon-Longueville, Pauillac.

Pichon-Longueville-Lalande, Pauillac.

Ducru-Beaucaillou, St Julien. Cos d'Estournel, St Est^phe. Chateau Montrose, St Estephe.

Third Growths. Chateau Kirwan, Cantenac. D'Issan, Cantenac. Lagrangp, St Julien. Langoa, St Julien. Giscours, Labarde. Malescot, Margaux. Brown Cantenac, Cantenac. Palmer, Cantenac. La Lagune, Ludon. Desmirail, Margaux. Calon-Sfcur, St Estdphe. Ferri&re, Margaux. Becker, Margaux.

Fourth Growths. Chateau Saint-Pierre, St Julien.

Branaire-Duluc, St Julien.

Talbot, St Julien.

Duhart-Milon, Pauillac.

Pouiet, Cantenac.

La Tour Carnet, St Laurent.

Rochet, St Estephe.

Beychevelle, St Julien. Le Prieurt?, Cantenac. Marquis de Terme, Margaux.

Fifth Growths.

Chateau Pontet-Canet, Pauillac.

Batailley, Pauillac. Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac. Ducasse-Grand-Puy, Pauillac. Chateau Lynch-Bages, Pauillac.

Lynch- Moussas, Pauillac.

Dauzac, Labarde.

Mouton-d'Armailhacq, Pauillac.

Le Tertre, Arsac.

Haut-Bages, Pauillac.

Pedesclaux, Pauillac.

Belgrave, St Laurent.

Camensac, St Laurent. Co -Labory, St Estephe. Chateau Clerc-Milon, Pauillac.

Croizet-Bages, Pauillac.

Cantemerle, Macau.

The quality of the Medoc 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.

and at a maximum in 1907, when close on 1000 hogsheads were obtained. Similarly, the Chateau 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 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 alias, gravel, clay or sand. This district produces both red and white wines. The vines, the methods of viticulture and yinification as regards the red wines of the Graves district, are similar to those of the M6doc. 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 Medoc wines. The Graves contains one vineyard, namely Chateau 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, ChSteau La Mission and Chateau PapeClement; in the commune of Villenaye D'Ornon, Chateau La Ferrade; in Leognan, Chateau Haut-Bailly, Chateau Haut- BrionLarrivet and Chateau Branon-Licterie; in Martillac, Chateau 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 white wines of the Graves are on the whole fairly dry and s aaterae , 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 Medoc, 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 Sajvignon, 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 Analyses of Chateau Lafite of Different Vintages. 1 Vintage.

Description.

Alcohol Per Cent.

by Vol.

Total Acidity.

Extract (Solid Matter).

Ash.

Total Tartaric Acid.

Glycerin.

Sugar.

1865 1875 1892 1896 1899 1905 Chateau Lafite 11-26 10-31 11-00 11-05 11-47 10-75 4-17 3-67 4-38 3-51 3-49 3-02 26-83 25-92 26-08 27-91 25-34 2-18 2-42 2-68 3-01 2-42 2-28 2-II I-7I I- 7 8 2-42 7-99 7-25 4-60 8-64 7-II 7-52 I-IO 1-25 1-69 1-74 2-12 Analyses of Different Clarets of the Same Vintage. 1 Vintage.

Description.

Alcohol Per Cent, by Vol.

Total Acidity.

Extract (Solid Matter).

Ash.

Total Tartaric Acid.

^Glycerin.

Sugar.

1900 Ch. Margaux 12-14 3-06 26-32 2-58 8-76 i'93 Ch. Mouton-Rothschild 11-82 2-97 28-98 2-69 7-53 2-56 Ch. Larose 12-06 3-23 29-01 2-29 8-02 3-97 Ch. Batailley 12-14 3-15 26-54 2-39 1zz -45 .2-27 Ch: Palmer (Margaux)

n-73 3-19 28-64 2-72 8-23 2-27 Ch. Smith-Haut-Lafite I3-76 3-10 27-48 2-IO 7-48 2-32 Second growth 10-91 3-32 29-44 2-84 6-99 1-72 Bourgeois growth 12-71 3-32 29-57 2-16 9-01 2-49 Peasant growth 11-47 3-58 20-97 I-7I 2-50 7-18 i -20 'Results -(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 Chateau Lafite was at a minimum in 1903 when only 229 hogsheads (the hogshead of claret =46 gallons) were produced, 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 Medoc, 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 microorganism termed Botrytis cinerea develops on the grape, causing a peculiar condition termed pourriture noble (German Edelfdule), 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, tin- berries being frequently cut off from the branches singly, and sorted according to their appearance. The grapes are then not crushed, but arc 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 tile, 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 M4doc. There are two main growths, the wines being as follows :

CLASSIFICATION OF SAUTERNES Grand First Growth. Chateau Yquem, Sauternes. First Growths.

Chateau La Tour Blanche, Bommes.

Peyraguey, Bommes.

Vigneau, Bommes.

Suduiraud, Preignac.

Coutet, Barsac.

,, Climens, Barsac.

Bayle (Guiraud), Sauternes.

Rieussec, Fargues.

Rabaud, Bommes. Second Growths. Chateau Mirat, Barsac.

Doisy, Barsac.

Peyxotto, Bommes.

d'Arche, Sauternes.

Filhot, Sauternes.

Broustet-Nerac, Barsac.

Caillou, Barsac.

Suau, Barsac.

Malle, Preignac.

Romer, Preignac.

Lamothe, 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 C&tes district consists of the slopes rising from the lower marshy regions to the east of the Garonne and the Dordogne respectively. <UP m* The * )est f tne COtes 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 M6doc, 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 Medoc wines. Among the better known wines of the first growths are the following: Chateau Ausone, Chateau Belair, Chateau Clos Fourtet, Chateau Pavie, Chateau Coutet, Chateau Cheval-Blanc, Chateau Figeac. The Chateau 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 Reole, 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 MAdoc or of the C6tes. 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 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 yictor 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 Perignon, 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 Peiignpn 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 PeYignon 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-dor6, Franc- Pineau and the Plant vert dor6. 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 cuvies. 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, 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 C6te d'Or in the centre, and the Saone-et-Loire on the south. In the Yonne are made chiefly the white wines known to us as Chablis; in the Sa&ne-et-Loire are made the red Bar a ua <'r- and white wines of Macon, and there is also, stretching into the department of the Rh&ne, 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 C6te d'Or, or the golden slope. The soil of the C6te 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 C6te d'Or practically the only vine is the Pineau or Noirien, but in the plain and in the districts of Macon and Beaujolais the Camay 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 Macon. 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, Romance, Richebourg, Nuits St Georges and Corton; to the south those of Pommard, Volnay, Monthe'lie and Meursault with its famous white wines.

The vinification of the Burgundy wines takes place in cuvesof 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.

Analyses of Champagne.* Description of Wine.

Vintage.

Alcohol per cent, by vol.

Total Acid.

Extract.

Ash.

Total Tartaric Acid.

Sugar (as invert Sugar).

Glycerin.

Carbonic Acid.

3 Champagne nature Brut Dry Extra sec Extra dry Dry 1892 1892 1892 1893 1893 1893 14-01 12-57 13-50 13-53 12-56 14-44 5-22 3-23 5-99 S-oi 5-43 4-80 20-95 19-78 27-07 22-95 23-18 30-33 1-17 2-53 1-16 I-IO 1-13 1-05 2-20 2-76 2-IO 2-18 2-49 2-04 3-36 1-32 9-20 7-84 7-23 13-86 7-55 7-64 9-10 6-50 8-18 9-05 8-27 7-79 9-55 8-12 7-75 Results, excepting alcohol, are in grams per litre.

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.

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 Loire have been known for many centuries, but up to 1 834 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 i. Red Wines.

Locality. Growth.

Fixey . . . Les Arvelets. Fixin . . . Clos de la Perriere.

Chambertin . Chambertin, Clos de Bize, Clos St Jacques. Morey. . . Clos de Tart, Les Bonnes Mares, Les Larrets. Chambolle . Les Musigny. Vougeot . . Clos de Vougeot. , Flagey . . Les Grandes Eschezeaux. Vosne. . . Romanee-Conti, Les Richebourgs, La Tache Romance la Tache. Nuits . . . Les Saint-Georges, Les Vaucrains, Les Porrets, Les Pruliers, Les Boudots, Les Thorey.

Aloxe . . . Le Corton, Le Clos-du-Roi-Corton. Savigny . . Les Vergelesses.

Beaune . . Les Feves, Les Greves, 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 Perrieres, Les Genevriferes. Puligny . . Montrachet, Les Chevaliers-Montrachet, Le Batard Montrachet.

,es An interesting feature of the C6te 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 Drdme, are made in the district of Valence the celebrated Hermitage red and white Hermltaxf w ' nes - The quality of.some of these, particularly of the 1 ' 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 MUI *^ e 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, Card, and the PyreneesOrientales. 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, etc., 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 Alrerla or cr "ppl' n g f 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 190$. 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.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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