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The 1843 Auction of Thomas Bloodgood’s Old Madeira

December 19, 2013 1 comment
The Island of Madeira with the Brig Comet Thomas Ormston Master entering the Bay of Funchal. Duncan, E. 1831. PAF7720. Image from National Maritime Museum.

The Island of Madeira with the Brig Comet Thomas Ormston Master entering the Bay of Funchal. Duncan, E. 1831. PAF7720. Image from National Maritime Museum.

Thomas Bloodgood was a president of the City Bank, a wine merchant near Fulton Market, and an agent for the Bloodgood nurseries in Flushing.[0]  After Mr. Bloodgood’s death in 1843,  the wine cellar was auctioned off by his executors on December 21, 1843, at the City Hotel in New York City.[1]  Two days after the auction the sales results were published.[2]  This was a significant cellar of which the Madeira alone spanned the vintages of 1754 to 1836.  Many of the producers and ships appear throughout the history of Madeira advertisements.  The Madeira imported by Mr. Bloodgood appears in advertisements over the years as generic” Bloodgood” in 1845[3] to more specific “Bloodgood, imported in 1835” at the sale of Chester Jennings’ wines in 1848[4].  “Old Bloodgood” was even served at the September 17, 1850, supper given by the Cincinnati Independent Fire Co.[5]  In this post I have reproduced the list of Madeira as it appeared in newspaper.  I have left out the unidentified lots of Madeira.

  • 1754 Madeira, sent by Mr. Oliviera as a present, 2 cases
  • 1754 Madeira, sent to Mr. Bloodgood as a present from Madeira, one bottle, at $5
  • 1779 Mary Elizabeth, 12 demijohns, $4.50-$5 per gallon
  • 1790 Madeira, sent to Mr. Bloodgood as a present from Madeira, one bottle at $5
  • 1791 Blackburn, from the private stock of the late Thomas Tom, 38 bottles at $2.75 each
  • Blackburn, bottled 18[?]6, drawn out for rebottling 1836, 30 demijohns, $4 per gallon
  • Pre-1800 Madeira, from Mr. Bloodgood’s private stock, who received it on the division of Mr. Tom’s wine, 18 bottles, $4.50 per bottle
  • 1794 Madeira, sent to Mr. Bloodgood as a present from Madeira, two bottles, $5 each
  • 1798 Monteiro Madeira, bottled in 1808, rebottled in 1830, 17 bottles at $3 each
  • 1800 Madeira, sent to Mr. Bloodgood as a present from Madeira, two bottles, $5 each
  • 1800 Madeira, 5 years in Calcutta, imported into Baltimore 1808, six dozen, $14 per dozen
  • 1800 Madeira, 5 years in Calcutta, imported into Baltimore 1808, 30 demijohns, $4-$4.50 per gallon
  • 1803 Crawford, bottled 1808, rebottled 1836, 160 bottles at $2-$2.12 each
  • 1803 Newton Gordon Murdock, 3 pipes
  • 1803 Madeira of late Robt. Lennox, Esq., 200 half-gallon bottles, at $1.75 each
  • 1805 Craford Madeira, in demijohns and bottles
  • Calcutta Madeira, three years in Calcutta, imported in 1806, two pipes, $13.50 per dozen
  • 1808 Buchanan Teneriffe, in demijohns, 40 bottles at $3.50 each
  • 1808 St. Anna Madeira, in demijohns and bottles
  • 1808 Choice Malmsy Leacoch
  • 1808 Blackburn, 40 dozen in half gallons and quarts
  • 1809 “Olevelra “
  • 1812 Leacock Madeira, bottled 18[?]8, rebottled 1837,32 dozen, $24 to $27 per dozen
  • 1812 Leacock Madeira, supposedly, recently rebottled, 153 half-gallon magnums, $1.81 each
  • Pre-1820, very old, 11 bottles at $2.75 each
  • Pre-1820, red seal, very old, 47 bottles at $3-$3.50 each
  • Pre-1820, very old and dry, 18 bottles at $2 each
  • 1820 Oliveria, 48 magnums, $1.50-$1.63 each
  • 1820 Oliveria, six dozen bottles, $9.25 per dozen
  • 1820 Oliveria, 30 demijohns, at $3.25 per gallon
  • 1822 Pomona, bottled 1843, 12 dozen, at $13.5 per dozen
  • 1822 Pomona, bottled 1843, six demijohns, at $4.50 per gallon
  • Pomona, imported in 1824, two pipes, $2.56 per gallon
  • Juno, two and a half pipes
  • Juno, imported 1822, bottled in 1843, 12 dozen, $1.50-$1.75 each bottle
  • Juno, imported 1822, bottled in 1843, 11 demijohns, $4.50-$5 per gallon
  • 1823 Howard March Madeira, two butts
  • 1825, imported by the Cazenove in 1838, three quarter-casks, at $3.[illegible] per gallon
  • 1825 P. J. Monterio & Co., imported 1835 by the Madrid, cased, 3 quart-casks, at $3.25 per gallon
  • Howard, imported 1825 from J. Howard, March & Co, 9 pipes and 1 butt, at $3.25 per gallon
  • 18[?]9 Mary Elizabeth, 24 demijohns
  • 1828 Ivanough, bottled 1834, 23 bottles, at $0.85 each
  • 1831 Indian Queen, one pipe and two half pipes
  • Ivanough, imported 1831, one quarter-cask, at $3 per gallon
  • [illegible] Anna, a fine old wine, imported by Messrs F. Stevens & sons, purchased in 1833, $19 per dozen
  • Madeira, imported by the San Francisco in 1832, two half-pipes, at $2 per gallon
  • Ivanough, imported 1834, two quarter-casks, at $3 per gallon
  • 1834 Goiconda, one quarter-cask
  • Howard Madeira, very choice wine of the highest cost, imported in 1835 from J&H March & Co., 36 demijohns, $4.[illegible] – $5 per gallon
  • Monteiro, imported 1835 by the India, two quarter-casks, $2.25-$3 per gallon
  • Olivera & Co., imported 1836 by Oucco, one pipe, $3.25 per gallon
  • 1836 Oneco Madeira, one pipe
  • Newton, Gordon, Murdock & Co., 34 pipes
  • Monteiro, per ship India, four pipes, 10 and one-third pipes, and four quarter-casks
  • Very choice Oliviera, three pipes
  • Arthur T. Taylor Madeira, a very delicate Light Wine, 24 demijohns

[0] Barrett, Walter. The Old Merchants of New York City, Volume 5. 1885. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=thIwAAAAIAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[1] Date: Saturday, December 2, 1843                 Paper: Commercial Advertiser (New York, NY)   Volume: XLVI   Page: 3
[2] Date: Saturday, December 23, 1843              Paper: Spectator (New York, NY)   Page: 2
[3] Date: Friday, April 18, 1845             Paper: Commercial Advertiser (New York, NY)   Volume: XLVIII   Page: 1
[4] Date: Friday, December 29, 1848                   Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XXXVI   Issue: 11183   Page: 4
[5] Date: Wednesday, July 21, 1909     Paper: Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, OH)   Page: 4
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My First Look at 2010 Bordeaux

December 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Jenn and I tasted the three Bordeaux featured in this post over the course of three nights.  The 2010 Chateau Tour St. Bonnet remained firm over the period so I suspect it really is a wine that will benefit from short-term cellaring.  The 2010 Chateau du Moulin Rouge was a bit more expressive showing an interesting saline and graphite touch.  The flavors come off lighter despite the strong structure.  My favorite of the trio was the 2010 Chateau Malescasse.  It showed a pleasing balance of fruit, weight, structure, and influence from wood.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

Bordeaux3

2010 Chateau Tour St. Bonnet, Medoc – $18
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 5% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot sourced from vines averaging 35 years of age.  Alcohol 14%.  There was red fruit in the mouth with a firm underpinning of very fine tannins.  With air it took on a stone-like firmness.  It remained tight but was more expansive in the finish where an almost inky note came out.  ** 2015-2020.

Bordeaux2

2010 Chateau du Moulin Rouge, Haut-Medoc – $20
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc sourced from vines averaging 35 years of age which was aged for 12 months in oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a quite-dark black cherry.  There was red fruit with a little greenhouse note and acidity on the back sides of the tongue.  This was lighter in body and lighter in the middle with watery acidity.  It was a touch saline with powdery lipstick flavors, and a firmer structure.  There were graphite notes in the finish.  With air it developed flavors of hard raspberry candy.  This has the strength to develop.  **(*) 2015-2024.

Bordeaux1

2010 Chateau Malescasse, Haut-Medoc – $20
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc which was aged for 16 months in 30% new oak.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was very subtle eventually revealing leather and black fruit.  In the mouth were slightly dense, black and red fruit.  There was a slightly cool aspect.  There was some perfume, acidity, and tannins in the finish followed by a hint of leather and a little earth.  With air the structure nicely came out along with some viscous weight and a hint of green house.  **(*) Now-2024?

Bordeaux4

The Sale of Old Madeira During the Post Civil War Decades

December 17, 2013 2 comments

James T. Hunt wrote that many southern families sold their Madeira in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[1]  These cellars were fortunate to survive not only destruction but also consumption during the war.  An article published in Charleston, South Carolina about life in a confederate camp describes the consumption of various drinks.[2]  Before the blockade, camps were supplied by “time honored wine cellars [which] contributed the choicest liquors.”  Drinks were offered everywhere with the mess tables covered with “bottled hospitality.”  Under the tables were demijohns of rye and Cognac and “not unfrequently a miniature vault below the floor of the tent had only to be tapped to disclose a mine of Madeira, sherry and champagne.”  The old Madeira which was not drunk during the war was often buried, hidden, or transported to other cities for safekeeping.  After the Civil War one New York City wine merchant traveled south purchasing “many bottles of a most beautiful Madeira”.[3]  This particular wine was a Rainwater Madeira which had been hidden in a Savannah garden and believed to date to 1783 or earlier.  These Oglethorpe bottles were still being sold in 1911.

Savannah, Georgia. Ruins of houses.  Cooley, Sam A. 1865. LC-B811- 3552.  Image from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Savannah, Georgia. Ruins of houses. Cooley, Sam A. 1865. LC-B811- 3552. Image from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Old Madeira was cherished in the post war years.  Henry R. Mygatt had a quart bottle of old Madeira which had been bottled by Robert Morris in 1774.[4]  The particular bottle was exhibited at the centennial exhibition at Philadelphia in 1876. It was reported in 1896 that Henry Clews possessed both 1812 Burgundy and several cases of 1812 Madeira.[5]  In 1900 the auction of 11 bottles of 1740 or 1750 [date illegible] Rain Water Madeira realized $8.50 per bottle.[6]  At the same auction 11 bottles of an 1828 Madeira realized $5 per bottle.

Being naturally curious about what else survived the war I set out to discover which cellars were sold, what they contained, and where they went.  For this post I have focused in on Madeira that was imported prior to the Civil War.  I must admit that this post rambles a bit.  This reflects the fact that quite a lot of Madeira changed hands and I am still obtaining a grasp on this period.  If you delight in old vintages and the colorful names of Madeira parcels then you should still enjoy reading this post.

In 1896 the wines of John Pendleton Kennedy of Maryland was auctioned off at Matthews and Kirkland of South Charles Street, Baltimore.  John Pendleton Kenney resided in Maryland.  His parcel consisted of 327 bottles of Madeira and one five gallon demijohn of Madeira lees.  All of the wine was stored in demijohns having been bottled during the fall of 1895.  The auction began with the 207 bottles of undated “Japan” Madeira of which the entire lot went to Mr. W. W. Spence at $2.60 per bottle.  In addition the 27 bottles of 1833 Dun & Co. sold for $6.50 each, 50 bottles of 1833 Blackburn sold for $3.75 each, 36 bottles of 1837 “Thomas” sold for $2.50[?illegible] each, and 5 bottles of undated “Washington” sold for $5.50 each.  The demijohn of lees sold for $16.

Madeira Islands, view of Funchal from sea.  1905?. Af,A64.3.  Image from British Museum.

Madeira Islands, view of Funchal from sea. 1905?. Af,A64.3. Image from British Museum.

John Pendleton Kennedy was Secretary of the Navy under President Filmore in 1852.  Major A. M. Hancock was the United States Consul in Malaga, Spain and a friend of both President Filmore and Mr. Kennedy.  According to Major Hancock, Commodore Perry informed President Filmore he would be stopping at Madeira on his way to Japan and would purchase a cask of wine if he was ordered.[7]  The president, who did not drink, gave the order and it was understood to purchase the Madeira for the Cabinet.  The Madeira would have been purchased between December 12, 1852, and December 15, 1852, during Commodore Perry’s brief stay in Funchal.[8]  Major Hancock believed the Madeira to be a few years of age at the time so that would make it of the 1850 vintage or earlier.  The number of casks purchased is unclear but they traveled in the hold to Japan and back eventually being delivered  to the former President Filmore.  After President Filmore’s death the Madeira made its way to Mr. Kennedy.  During the Civil War Mr. Kennedy racked off the Madeira into demijohns so it could be transported to New York City for safekeeping.

The same auction also featured 113 bottles of Madeira from the late Charles Bruce of Staunton Hill, Virginia.  The Madeira was believed to be at least 40 years old, vintage 1856 or older.  The Madeira had been stored in the cellar except during the Civil War when some was buried in the ground and the rest was stored in Lynchburg.  As it had no provenance the Madeira it sold at lower prices of $2.10 to $3.50 per bottle.

In 1897 Jules Eddy Kennedy of the “famous old wine purveyors, George E. Kennedy & Sons” was interviewed for the article Wines of Washington.[9]  For the last 20 years he had been interested in the “old Southern wine cellars left after the devastation of war.”  These cellars of old Madeira, Sherry, and Brandy had been imported as far back as the time of the Revolutionary General Jacob Reed.  Mr. Kennedy said that “before the war every planter had a wine cellar.”  The wines were buried in the ground during the war so ‘that for a radius of forty or fifty miles around Richmond and Washington are found the oldest and richest wines in America.’  He continued that, “there is no city in the United States where so many luxuries are sold as in Washington.”

One early example of such a sale occurred in January 1868, when the wines of the late Sir Frederick Bacce[?illegible] were sold at auction in Washington, DC.[10]  Of the few hundred bottles there were “ten dozen choice old Madeira”.  It was stated that “Washington bon vivants” were supplied with “choice vintages, at low prices” by diplomats who imported their wine free of duty.  A wine cellar went up for auction at least once every six months.  The former French Minister M. Outrey left his cellar in Washington, DC for auction in 1882.[11]  In included about 50 dozen bottles of Madeira from 1791.

Old Madeira was reported popular “especially on the tables of the Justices of the Supreme Court.”  Before the Civil War merchants in Alexandria, Virginia directly imported stocks of Madeira.  However, in November 1852, the cellar of Josiah Lee of Baltimore, Maryland was sold upon his death.[12]  “[M]any Washington cellars were replenished” by this sale.  There were 50 demijohns of Madeira which went from $14 to $49 per gallon.  One lot sold for $15.50 per bottle, the equivalent of $77.50 per gallon.

Brass token of Cossart, Gordon, & Co.  19th C. 1938,0904.2. Image from British Museum.

Brass token of Cossart, Gordon, & Co. 19th C. 1938,0904.2. Image from British Museum.

Mr. Jules Eddy Kennedy had purchased a parcel from the “old Lee family” through their representative J. Fenner Lee, who was related to Charles Carroll of Carrollton.  There were spirits imported as far back as 1775 and old Madeira imported into Virginia.  At least three bottles of wine were bottled in 1776 when they were supposedly 50 years of age.  Thus these wines of the 1726 or earlier vintage were known as ‘Declaration Madeira.’  One bottle was opened during the last birthday of the historian Bancroft.  Mr. Kennedy said that the Lee wines were bought by several people at auction.  The British Ambassador, Sir Julian Pauncefote, bought a case at $15 per bottle, Senator Hoar purchased at $75 per gallon, and Senator McPherson purchased six bottles at $10 each.  Amongst this lot were the J. Howard, March & Co. Madeira which was “put in glass” as early as 1800 when Mr. Howard was counsel in Madeira.  There were other buyers including L. Z. Leiter of Chicago and Manager Bemis of Hotel Richelieu in New York.  He put a dozen bottles on the list.

Elsewhere old Madeira was auctioned off as early as the months preceding the end of the Civil War.[13]  In February 1865, the merchant Jas. L. Gantt of Charleston, South Carolina, auctioned off some 50 cases of “Very Choice Old Madeira Wine.”  These bottles of Newton & Gordon were bottled prior to 1834 and included vintages from 1817 to 1825.  The death of Frederick Tudor of Boston resulted in an auction of his cellar of wines in 1869 which were elected by Isaac P. Davis.[14]  There were 200 bottles of 1852 Bual, “old Constitution wine” bottled in 1830/50[date illegible], 180 bottles of South Side Madeira bottled in 1832, as well as undated “Montario Madeira.”

The death of Dr. Anson Parsons in 1871 saw the sale of his wine cellar which contained old Madeira and Sherry.[15]  Some of the wines were bottled by Dr. Parsons in Savannah, Georgia and were over 30 years old.  In 1887 the wine cellar underneath the Pulaski House in Savannah was robbed.[16]  At the time the cellar contained old Madeira from 1830, 1832, and 1837 which belonged to the Wiltberger estate.  The historic Colt mansion in Paterson, New Jersey was robbed in 1888.[17]  The robbers drank some 15 gallons of 1815 Madeira worth $600.  Of this “rare vintage” one demijohn had been sealed in honor of the verdict of Daniel Webster, “who had once extolled the wine’s exquisite banquet.”

In 1888 it was reported that the oldest wine in America were located in Savannah.[18]  Though there was a parcel from 1833 there were many significantly older wines.  Members of the Gibbons and Heyward families imported two pipes of the All Saint’s Madeira from 1791 in 1793.  The great fire of 1793 in Savannah destroyed one pipe.  Gibbons and Heyward agreed to split the remaining pipe of which several bottled lots of were purchased in the 1870s.  The Hunter Madeira was imported around the time of the All Saint’s Madeira and often offered by Dr. De Renne at $100 per bottle.  Another cellar contained 20 lots of Newton, Gordon, & Co. Madeira from the vintages 1802 to 1830.  Some 500 pipes of Madeira were imported from the same firm in 1780 and some of it was purported still in Savannah.

Another parcel of old Madeira in Savannah was located in the Habersham mansion on the corner of Harris and Bernard Streets.[19]  The equivalent of some 3,000 quart bottles were the property of the late William Neyle Habersham who died in 1899.  The Habersham cellar or garret was allegedly famous since the founding of Savannah.  The Madeira was stored in a conservatory with walls and ceiling of glass.  There were two rooms with an open framework of boards for the Madeira.  Mr. Habersham reportedly moved the bottles about to expose them to sunlight and warmth. The details of the contents are thin just that there was old Sercial and Malmsey dating back to 1827.  The wine came direct from Madeira and also through London.

The large Madeira collection of A. T. Stewart was auctioned off in New York City during March 1890.[20]  It was reported that he had “undoubtedly the greatest assortment of Madeira in the country” since he was the principal buyer of the March & Benson cellar in 1865.  Charles March was a friend of Daniel Webster and Mr. Benson had a brother who owned one of the “principal Madeira vineyards.”  On May 17, 1865, the firm of Ludlow & Co of New York City sold the personal collection of Mr. March.[21]  These bottles of “old Madeira” had been in possession since 1813.  They included Verdelho, Sercial, Bual, Rapid, Calcutta, Braman, Old Reserve, Wanderer, Muscatel, Juan de Carvalhal, and Old London Particular.  Together they were advertised as “probably the best selected private stock of wines ever in this country.”    The 1890 auction realized some $8,000 due to light bidding and prices remained similar to that in the 1865.  Selected lots include:

  • “very old” Ivanhoe, one case at $45 each.
  • Madeira, bottled 1807, one case at $54.
  • 1810, “Old London Particular”, imported via India on the Jack Warrior, bottled 1843, three demijohns at $54 per dozen bottles.
  • 1815 Sercial, four cases at $57 each.
  • 1818 Madeira, one case at $48.
  • 1819 “M. Y. Green Seal”, five magnums at $5.25 each.
  • 1820 “Carvahal” or “Carvarhal” , one case at $39 each.
  • 1828 Reserve, eight cases at $66 each.
  • 1829, “Wanderer”, six cases at $66 each.
  • 1830 “Camara de Lobos”, nine cases at $45 each.
  • 1836 Sercial, one bottle at $3.50.
  • 1840 Reserve, ten cases at $36-$39 each.
  • 1844, “Talisman”, five cases at $69[? Price illegible] Each.
  • 1846 Bual, nineteen cases  at $36-$39 each.
  • 1846 Verdalho, seven cases at $39 each.
  • Red and black seal Carvahal, four cases.
  • “Sercial P.”, three cases at $54 each.
  • “Ceylon H.  C.”, two cases at $45 each.
  • “Ceylon H. C.”, one case at $51 each.
  • “R. Lenox”, two cases at $63 each.
  • “Thorndike D.”, one case at  $39 each.
  • March & Benson, Sercial, one case at $51 each.
  • “Cama de Lobos”, Imported 1837, two demijojhns at $63 per dozen bottles.
  • March & Benson, Brahmin via India, May, 1826, three demijohns at $72 per dozen bottles.

With effort it is possible to track down the history of these individual lots.  For example, it is probable the Ivanhoe Madeira was imported on the ship Iyanough via New York.  In 1834 it carried the Madeira of Newton, Gordon, Murdoch & Co.[22]  The Bramin or Brahmin Madeiras appear to be advertised as early 1825.  In July 1825, A. Bininger & Son of New York City described these as the “Finest south side Madeira Wines…of the most approved brands” received via India from the ship Bramin.[23]  The Madeiras were available in butts, pipes, hogsheads, and quarter casks.  March & Benson advertised Madeira on September 1825, in pipes via Calcutta from the ship Bramin.[24] They were subject to a drawback. They also listed “Old London Particular” Madeira of the brand J. Howard, March, & Co.  March & Benson still had a few casks of the “Bramin Wine” in December 1826.[25]

The Port of New York--Birds eye view from the Battery, looking south. Currier & Ives. c1892.  Image from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The Port of New York–Birds eye view from the Battery, looking south. Currier & Ives. c1892. Image from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Major Slaymaker the Postmaster of Lancaster, Pennsylvania had eighteenth century Madeira as well.[26]  His cellar contained bottles from 1793, 1800, 1808, 1812, 1818, 1827, and 1840.  The 1793 vintage was bottled in 1798 by Philip and Adam Reigart and was worth at least $25 per bottle.  The oldest vintages were considered valuable because it was reported in 1892 that no dealer on the island possessed vintages older than 1815.[27]  The 1827 vintage was the rarest of all because it was” the finest in the history of the island.”

At a dinner for “honest-money democrats” held at Maryland in 1896 rare, old Madeira was served after the 1874 Johannisberger, Ruinart Brut, and 1870s Chambertin.[28]  This Madeira of the 1800 vintage was believed to come from the cellar of President Thomas Jefferson.  The bottle was presented by Mr. Douglas H. Thomas who purchased 20 bottles at the 1890 sale of the Wethered effects in Cantonsville, Maryland.  The Wethereds came into possession of the wine when Philip Evans Thomas purchased it at the sale of Thomas Jefferson’s effects.  The Madeira was described as “rich, fruity flavor.” It originally cost $3 but the “method of compounding” yielded a current value of $1,500 per gallon or $3.50 per teaspoonful.  At the time of the dinner Mr. Thomas still possessed a few more Jefferson bottle.  I shall take a full look at these bottles of Jefferson Madeira, including the Sotheby’s auction, in a future post.

Ten years after the Jefferson Madeira was drunk the cellar of Douglas H. Thomas was sold.[29]  It was reported that Douglas H. Thomas,  C[illegible] Fisher of Gil & Fisher, and the late H[illegible] Johnston purchased most of the Madeira sold in Washington, DC.  The lots offered by Mrs. Thomas included wines originally purchased by James Cox, John Edgar Howard (1862), and Otto W. Eich[illegible] (1873). There were also wines purchased by Josiah Lee.  The specific wines included 1807 South Side and Sheffield Madeiras.  The South Side Madeira was shipped in 1827 by Kiers & Co., imported in 1829 then bottled in 1830.  There are other wines but they are partially illegible in the article: 1820 “Hol[illegible] Murdock Madeira”[30], “Old R[illegible]” Madeira bought of McDonald & R[illegible], E. G. Oelrichs & Lurman in 1840, 1815 Hope[illegible] and Hunt Madeira, and 1817 “Leac[illegible] and Roup Gould.”


[1] Tuten, James H. “Liquid Assets: Madeira Wine and Cultural Capital among Lowcountry Planters, 1735-1900” American Nineteenth Century History, Vol, 6, No. 2, June 2005, pp.173-188.
[2] Date: Saturday, September 4, 1869                Paper: Evening Post (New York, NY)   Volume: 68   Page: 1
[3] “Dust Covered Treasures in Dingy Office Buildings”, The New York Times.  July 30, 1911.
[4] Date: Monday, December 14, 1874               Paper: Indianapolis Sentinel (Indianapolis, IN)   Volume: XXIII   Issue: 166   Page: 7
[5] Date: Sunday, August 30, 1896        Paper: Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA)   Volume: 135   Issue: 61   Page: 27, Date: Thursday, March 20, 1851   Paper: Charleston Courier (Charleston, SC)   Volume: XLIX   Issue: 14761   Page: 3
[6] Date: Tuesday, June 5, 1900            Paper: Daily Herald (Biloxi, MS)   Volume: 2   Issue: 248   Page: 7
[7] Date: Thursday, December 24, 1896              Paper: Sun (Baltimore, MD)   Volume: CXX   Issue: 33   Page: 8
[8] Wolter, John A.  With Commodore Perry to Japan. Naval Institute Press. 2013.
[9]Date: Wednesday, March 10, 1897                 Paper: Denver Post (Denver, CO)   Page: 2 Date: Wednesday, March 10, 1897     Paper: Denver Post (Denver, CO)   Page: 2
[10] Date: Monday, January 6, 1868      Paper: Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH)   Volume: XXXL   Issue: 357   Page: 2
[11] Date: Thursday, May 25, 1882        Paper: New York Tribune (New York, NY)   Page: 4
[12] Date: Friday, November 21, 1884                  Paper: Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH)   Volume: XLI   Issue: 278   Page: 2
[13] Date: Sunday, February 5, 1865     Paper: Daily Constitutionalist (Augusta, GA)   Volume: XXII   Issue: 182   Page: 3
[14] Date: Monday, November 29, 1869              Paper: Boston Post (Boston, MA)   Volume: XX   Issue: 94   Page: 3
[15] Date: Thursday, April 20, 1871       Paper: Pittsfield Sun (Pittsfield, MA)   Volume: LXXI   Issue: 3683   Page: 2
[16] Date: Thursday, April 28, 1887       Paper: Macon Telegraph (Macon, GA)   Issue: 11698   Page: 3
[17] Date: Monday, August 6, 1888       Paper: Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL)   Volume: VII   Issue: 138   Page: 4
[18] Date: Tuesday, December 11, 1888              Paper: Critic-Record (Washington (DC), DC)   Issue: 45   Page: 2
[19] Date: Sunday, March 4, 1900         Paper: Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH)   Page: 22
[20] Date: Thursday, March 6, 1890      Paper: New York Herald (New York, NY)   Issue: 65   Page: 8. See also: Date: Thursday, March 6, 1890                   Paper: New York Tribune (New York, NY)   Page: 7
[21] Date: Friday, May 12, 1865             Paper: Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA)   Page: 7
[22] Date: Thursday, August 7, 1834     Paper: Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, VA)   Page: 3
[23] Date: Tuesday, July 5, 1825             Paper: Evening Post (New York, NY)   Issue: 7170   Page: 3
[24] Date: Thursday, August 25, 1825                   Paper: National Advocate (New York, NY)   Volume: XIII   Issue: 3648   Page: 1
[25] Date: Friday, December 22, 1826                  Paper: Evening Post (New York, NY)   Issue: 7623   Page: 3
[26] Date: Friday, April 26, 1889            Paper: Sun (Baltimore, MD)   Volume: CIV   Issue: 138   Page: 3
[27] Date: Sunday, June 26, 1892          Paper: Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH)   Page: 12
[28] Date: Monday, November 30, 1896              Paper: Sun (Baltimore, MD)   Volume: CXX   Issue: 12   Page: 6
[29] Date: Sunday, February 25, 1906                  Paper: Sun (Baltimore, MD)   Volume: CXXXVIII   Issue: 101   Page: 16
[30] Presumably Newton, Gordon, and Murdock Madeira.  See: Date: Saturday, December 7, 1839      Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XXVII   Issue: 8366   Page: 1, Date: Friday, June 5, 1846     Paper: Richmond Whig (Richmond, VA)   Volume: 23   Issue: 45   Page: 3, and

Drinks in Seattle

December 16, 2013 Leave a comment

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My recent trip to Seattle ended up being more busy than anticipated.  I did not taste much of anything new but the bottle of 2012 Syncline, Subduction Red, Columbia Valley proved rather satisfying.  It is a blend of 28% Mourvedre, 26% Grenache, 23% Syrah, 13% Counoise, 8% Carignan, and 2% Cinsault.  I meant to write down a tasting note but instead I continued to drink the bottle over three nights.  I was finally determined to take my note so I went to pour the final glass from the bottle then realized it was already empty.  Perhaps that is all you need to know, surely Hugh Johnson would approve.

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I did manage to have a few drinks with Clark at Westward & Little Gull.  This restaurant, bar, and miniature “grocery store” is still relatively new.  It is located west of the University north of Lake Union literally sandwiched between Northlake Way and the lake.  We sat at the bar watching the cooks prep for dinner service.  From our swivel-seats we could clearly see Lake Union with downtown Seattle as the backdrop.  The wine list is small but edited with diverse selections.  Think Pratsch, Badenhorst, Fontsainte, Correggia, and the local Gifford Hirlinger.

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If you are willing to bundle up, you may take your drinks outside to sit around a roaring fire.  This is a stunning location!  You just want to stay there watching the lights of Eastlake, Downtown, and Queen Anne Hill reflecting off of the lake.   I highly recommend you stop by for drinks.

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Categories: Image

“Hidden Wine Saves Life of Veteran”: A Brief and Modern Look at Newspaper Accounts of Hidden Wine

December 13, 2013 Leave a comment

My recent post on The Hidden Madeira of the South Carolina Jockey Club made me interested in other accounts of hidden wine.  In this post I take a brief look at the diverse accounts of hidden wine and cellars.  Beginning with South Carolina we know that bottles of precious Madeira were buried and hidden in advance of General Sherman troops.  The New York Times account from General Slocum reports that soldiers found the buried wine cellars “of the rich Charleston people” at Cheraw, South Carolina.[1] These soldiers drank wine “which must have been worth $25 per bottle” from old tin cups.

City of Charleston, South Carolina, looking across Cooper's River. Painted by G. Cooke ; engraved by W.J. Bennett. c 1838. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

City of Charleston, South Carolina, looking across Cooper’s River. Painted by G. Cooke ; engraved by W.J. Bennett. c 1838. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Accounts of hidden and buried wine continue to appear throughout wartime accounts.  One example appears in article The Deserted Villages of France published on November 28, 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War.[2]  It was reported that in advance of siege operations many houses were abandoned after the owners hid their wine.  A correspondent from the London Daily News met with a Prussian Jaeger “who has the reputation of smelling good wine through any depth of earth.”  His ability to find the likeliest spots “to contain a hidden wine-bin, is of immense value to his comrades.”  After drinking the wine they were careful to save the empty bottles so they could be filled again.  It was believed that “wine of deserted houses a fair prey” and that ‘If we do not, the next detachment will.’

It was reported by Hugh Gibson in an article subtitled Teutons Plundered Belgian Wine Cellars with Insatiable Thirst that a particular count and countess in Belgium had their “fine cellars” emptied by the first wave of invading German soldiers.[3]  When a second wave came through they were placed in front of a firing squad with the demand to reveal the location of their hidden wine.  As there was no wine left they were eventually released for items of fine clothing.  The practice of the German army had been to “clear out whole cellars at a time and load what was not drunk onto carts to be carried away.”  The article also relates how one man in Namur, hid all of his older wines in the ornamental pond near his chateau.  He left a few thousand bottles of new wine in his cellar.  Unfortunately, the labels from the submerged bottles peeled off to float on the surface.  The entire soaked lot was taken.  The following month the Oregonian published the article with a more salacious title Huns, Drunken and Ugly, Loot At Will.[4]

Not all wine were spoils of war.  During World War I, Lieutenant-Colonel Alvin Owsley of the 36th Division was invited by a “lovely French lady” for an Armistice Day dinner.[5]  With her own hands she had dug trenches in her garden where she “had buried some of her best wines and some champagne.”  At her request the soldiers grabbed picks and shovels to dig up “innumberable bottles” with which they “had a celebration.”

In 1944 the House of Hesse hid their jewels in a lead-lined casket along with 1,600 bottles of “rare vintage wine.”  They placed all of it in a sub-cellar of the family castle at Kronberg, near Frankfurt.[6]  American troops took over the castle in April 1945 and “quickly ‘liberated’ all the wine” that was readily available.  A continued search yielded the rare bottles.

On American soil, the recently elected congressman General Thomas Jefferson Clunie of California was described as,”active as a ferret and as snappy as a steal trap.”[7]  In 1890 he engaged in a business enterprise with Senator Hearst.  They filled a special train with California wine then sent it towards Washington, DC.  The plan was to distribute the wine to the members who supported his recently appropriated San Jose bill.  As the train was passing through Sierra Nevada it became trapped in 40 feet of snow and ice.

Workmen excavating at the corner of Anne Street and Park Row opposite the Herald Building in New York City cracked into a stone vault in September, 1893.[8]  It was believed to be the old wine cellar of Edward Windust’s restaurant.  According to a workman “Only those in Windust’s good graces were permitted to walk into that little cellar and sir around the little table” drinking wine and brandy.  Edward Windust was a famous restaurateur who opened up his basement restaurant at No. 5 – No. 11 Park Row in 1824.[9]  One of his advertisements from 1829 lists “Turtle Soup and Refreshments of the best kind will be in readiness, together with choice supplies of Wine and Liquors.”[10]  Apparently Mr. Windust enjoyed turtle soup because he advertised it six years earlier at the Phoenix Coffee House.  That advertisement noted “a fine Green Turtle will be cooked, in the Hoboken style, THIS DAY.”[11]

Calumet Castle, courtesy Thousand Islands Museum, obtained from nyheritage.org.

Calumet Castle c.1900, courtesy Thousand Islands Museum, obtained from nyheritage.org.

A case of wine was found buried in an old cellar of a building located in Port St. Joseph, Florida in 1920.[12]  The building had been abandoned in 1840 due to a yellow fever epidemic.  It was estimated the wine was buried before 1820.  Another wine cellar was discovered in 1950 at Calumet Castle in the Thousand Islands.[13]  A group of workers were fixing the basement wiring when they discovered “several hundred cases of imported wines” dated between 1895 and 1900.  The bottles were hidden in a cave dug in solid rock.  Of the first lot 500 bottles were judged good with 1,000 bottles deemed, “unfit for use.”  There were an estimated 1,500 bottles remaining in the cave that had not been investigated.  Upon tasting a bottle the spokesman declared, ’It’s the kind that will make you talk.’

In England one correspondent in 1895 wrote how “People scarcely realize how large an amount of fine, rare wine and spirits lie in old country hostelries.”[14] These parcels of wine were left untouched because outside of London “few people care for any but sweet wines”.  Thus there were “clarets and dry champagne of great age and fine flavor.”  At one particular small hotel near New Forest was the “finest claret” where “A connoisseur would have taken up his abode there for good, and would have been well rewarded.”

Two decades later in July 1917, an article describes police sweeping through resorts where they Confiscate Rivers of Fire Water.[15]  Detectives entered the home of Sola Zanocco of Kilburn Avenue where they “knocked out a false partitions” and found a hidden wine cellar.  Apparently they did not find any wine but there was 15 gallons of brandy and “fancy liquors were unearthed.”  A much larger find resulted from a New York City police raid in February, 1921.  Police entered the hotel of Gondolo Amberko at 402 East 106th Street where they found an additional 250 barrels of California claret.[16]  The police had already found 400 barrels making a reported total of 33,800 gallons of California claret seized. Mr. Amberko was a wine merchant prior to becoming a hotel operator.

Sometimes hidden wine could not be found.  One man in Woodbine, Iowa enlisted his friends to help him find “some jugs of fermented wine he had buried in his fields” because he could not remember where he hid them.[17]  With a promise to equally split whatever was found his friends plowed his field searching for the wine.  They never found the wine.  In 1976 workers were leveling the land of Marvin Schwartz in Texas.[18]  They unearthed “several old bottles of wine” but all but two bottles had the tops sheared off.  They speculated “the wine was buried to keep it cool in the 1920s.”

While wine was often times hidden in at least one case where items were hidden in the wine.  George Pollock alleged in December 1913, that Marcel de Pinsonet received a case of wine the previous month from the steamer Honduras in New Orleans.[19]  Mr. Pollock state that diamonds, pearls, and rubies were hidden in the wine.

John Prandi of Iron River, Michigan returned to his hometown in Italy during 1931 after years in “dry America”.[20]  There he had buried 50 quart bottles of wine in 1909.  In France, a 10 gallon demijohn of wine had been buried in 1811 by Major Leclerc, an officer in Napoleon’s army.[21]  The wine was originally buried in honor of the birth of Napoleon’s son and was to not be touched until the wedding of his youngest daughter.  Both his daughters died unmarried and the property was left to his adopted son.  Some 117 years later a document describing the location of the wine was found.  The demijohn was located beneath five feet of earth.  The wicker and stop had decayed but the wine was still protected by the oil in the neck.  The wine was poured into glasses where it was “a rich ruby color.”  The glasses were tasted “then hurriedly set down: the wine had turned to vinegar.”

Walter Reed General Hospital. 1918-1928.  LC-F82-2477.  National Photo Company Collection (Library of Congress)

Walter Reed General Hospital. 1918-1928. LC-F82-2477. National Photo Company Collection (Library of Congress)

My favorite newspaper account was published in December, 1919.  The story has local ties as well as attests to medicinal value of wine.  I present the transcription.

HIDDEN WINE SAVES LIFE OF VETERAN

Washington, Dec, 11. – A wounded soldier in Walter Reed Hospital, who collapsed following the amputation of his leg, was saved after the Red Cross had been notified that champagne was required to keep up the man’s vitality.  A member of the exclusive Chevy Chase Club donated some wine he had been savings for Christmas, and the patient began to rally after a few spoonsful had ben administered.[22]

In more recent decades hidden wine cellars became advertised features of houses.  One so called Maxi-Ranch of San Diego, California was listed in 1975 as having “charm galore” with a hidden wine cellar and “every woman’s dream kit[chen].”[23]  That same year in Portland one could purchase a “unique dalite ranch style” home with a hidden wine cellar.[24]  Recreation was in the form of “picnics to quaint old ferry boat rides.”  While these cellars were a selling point in the 1970s they received bad press in the 1950s in the article Sally Forrest Saved From Hidden Wine Cellar.[25]  Sally Forrest and her husband Milo Frank had recently purchased the house of Jean Harlow in Benedict Canyon.  Sally Forrest decided to explore the concealed bar in the library.  Inside that bar was a door to a hidden wine cellar.  Unfortunately it “snapped shut” and there was no inside knob.  She “screamed and yelled for 40 minutes” until her husband and brother found her.


[1] “From Atlanta To the Sea”,  The New York Times. December 7, 1890
[2] Date: Monday, November 28, 1870               Paper: Providence Evening Press (Providence, RI)   Volume: XXIV   Issue: 64   Page: 1
[3] Date: Thursday, November 29, 1917              Paper: Boston Herald (Boston, MA)   Page:
[4] 8 Date: Friday, December 28, 1917                Paper: Oregonian (Portland, OR)   Page: 5
[5] Date: Sunday, November 12, 1939                 Paper: Richmond Times Dispatch (Richmond, VA)   Page: 45
[6] Date: Saturday, June 8, 1946           Paper: Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, WA)   Page: 2
[7] Date: Thursday, May 15, 1890         Paper: Charleston News and Courier (Charleston, SC)   Page: 5
[8] Date: Friday, September 8, 1893   Paper: New York Herald (New York, NY)   Issue: 251   Page: 11
[9] Date: Monday, March 19, 1877       Paper: New York Herald (New York, NY)   Volume: XLII   Issue: 78   Page: 6
[10] Date: Friday, May 8, 1829               Paper: American (New York, NY)   Volume: X   Issue: 2880   Page: 3
[11] Date: Friday, June 20, 1823            Paper: National Advocate (New York, NY)   Volume: XI   Issue: 2979   Page: 3
[12] Date: Saturday, December 4, 1920               Paper: Evening Post (Charleston, SC)   Page: 13
[13] Date: Sunday, July 30, 1950            Paper: Omaha World Herald (Omaha, NE)   Page: 20
[14] Date: Wednesday, August 7, 1895                Paper: Worcester Daily Spy (Worcester, MA)   Page: 7
[15] Date: Sunday, July 29, 1917            Paper: Morning Star (Rockford, IL)   Page: 2
[16] “Find 250 Gallons More Hidden Wine”,  The New York Times. February 11, 1921.
[17] Date: Thursday, December 16, 1920            Paper: Kansas City Star (Kansas City, MO)   Volume: 41   Issue: 90   Page: 1
[18] Date: Wednesday, February 25, 1976          Paper: Dallas Morning News (Dallas, TX)   Section: B   Page: 9
[19] Date: Wednesday, December 17, 1913       Paper: New Orleans Item (New Orleans, LA)   Page: 7
[20] Date: Wednesday, May 20, 1931                   Paper: Repository (Canton, OH)   Page: 16
[21] “Finds Wine In Earth Since Napoleon’s Day”, The New York Times. March 25, 1928
[22] Date: Thursday, December 11, 1919            Paper: Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader (Wilkes-barre, PA)   Section: Second   Page: 24
[23] Date: Sunday, January 19, 1975     Paper: San Diego Union (San Diego, CA)   Page: 20
[24] Date: Wednesday, May 14, 1975                   Paper: Oregonian (Portland, OR)   Page: 72
[25] Date: Thursday, June 23, 1955       Paper: Boston Daily Record (Boston, MA)   Page: 30

Four AffordableWines from Iberia

December 12, 2013 Leave a comment

This is just a quick post for today.  The 2012 Vina Buena, Allende, La Ermita, Ribera del Duero is a strong value at $10 per bottle.  It has fruit, stones, acidity, and structure.  There are not many decent $10 wines so bear that in mind.   I have drunk an  earlier vintage of the 2011 Quinta do Passadouro, Passo but apparently have never written about it.  I’ll have to dig through my notes and pictures.  This bottle was more of a crowd-pleaser and was immediately accessible.   Despite the accessibility I preferred it after several hours when it was more complete.   My favorite of the lot is the 2011 D Ventura, Pena do Lobo, Ribeira Sacra.  I am a big fan of the producer and found this particular wine is in need of short-term cellaring.  It is worth the wait.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2011 Muxagat Vinhos, Tinto Barroca, Douro – $15
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Tina Barroca souced from a vineyard planted in 2007 on soils of schist and granite at 1,800 feet.  It was fermented then aged for eight months in old cement vats.  Alcohol 13%.  There were young, drying red flavors then drying black fruit.  The fruit was young with some citrus and a drying structure in the finish.  The citric tannins continued though it developed some grapey concentration.  ** 2014-2015.

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2011 Quinta do Passadouro, Passo, Douro – $13
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of 40% Touriga Franca, 30% Tinta Roriz, and 30% Touriga Nacional sourced from vines averaging 30 years of age on soils of schist. It was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 18 months in 80% used and 20% new barriques.  Alcohol 14%.  There were soft, billowy aromas of black fruit and vanilla.  In the mouth were flavors of round, dense fruit, and which were delivered with a gentle, puffy powdery vanilla note.  The wine was smooth with a chocolate hint.  With air it became a little fresh with baking spices.  It was a decent drinks from the get-go but I preferred it with air when it took on more minerals and floral flavors.  **

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2012 Vina Buena, Allende, La Ermita, Ribera del Duero – $10
Imported by Tradewinds Specialty Imports.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo. Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose revealed subtle, wafting aromas of black fruit.  There was moderate concentration in the mouth with slightly floral, red and black fruit.  There was a subtle structure, salivating acidity, and a hint of stones.  There were some drying tannins in the structure which came out a bit with air.  Strong value. ** Now-2018.

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2011 D Ventura, Pena do Lobo, Ribeira Sacra – $18
Imported by DeMaison Selections.  This wine is 100% Mencia sourced from 80+ year old vines on granite soils.  It was fermented in stainless steel.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was slightly deep with orange and red fruit.  It took until the second night to soften a bit becoming more approachable yet maintaining grip.  There were high-toned flavors on a pillowy note of tart red fruit.  It had a powdery texture, leaving some ripeness on the gums.  It left a youthful impression.  **(*) 2014 – 2018.

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A Pair of Wines from aMaurice Cellars

December 11, 2013 Leave a comment

The 2009 aMaurice Cellars, Pour Me appears to have been released in 2011 for the Metropolitan Market.  Quite frankly I found it over oaked so I would avoid it. Much better is the 2010 aMaurice Cellars, Syrah/Grenache, Boushey Vineyards.   I cannot write that I am an expert with regards to Boushey Vineyards but this bottle immediately reminded me of the 2008 Ross Andrew Winery, Syrah, Boushey Vineyards.  That is a good memory.  This current release from Amaurice is on the young side so I would keep it in your cellar for at least a year before revisiting.  I believe it is worth the patience.  These wines were purchased at Whole Foods in Seattle.

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2009 aMaurice Cellars, Pour Me, Red Blend, Columbia Valley – $18
This wine is a blend of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Cabernet Franc, 28% Merlot aged two years in 40% new French oak.  Alcohol 14%.  Aromas of sweet vanilla waft up from the glass.  In the mouth there was sweet vanilla from the start with Jenn calling it, “overt.”  The wine was round and soft with black and red fruit, and salivating acidity.  It was tougher towards the finish.  With air it took on chocolate notes.  Not my style.  * Now.

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2010 aMaurice Cellars, Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley – $34
This wine is a blend of 72% Syrah and 28% Grenache sourced from vines planted in 1980.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged for two years in used French oak.  Alcohol 14.1%.  The nose revealed a subtle mix of orange, potpourri, and berries which was evocative of Boushey fruit.  The mouth followed the nose but the fruit firmed up in the middle.  There was acidity and an orange note.  With air there was a hint of round mouthfeel and some spices in the finish.  *** 2015-2024.

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