Archive for September, 2014

Table of the principal known Wines, and of the Quality of Alcohol in Wines (1826).

September 30, 2014 1 comment

On Saturday, February 11, 1826, The London Literary Gazette published a table of the principal known wines to aid those in “these times of general tribulation” who “may wish to lose the sense of losses and disappointments by steeping it in wine”.[1]  The editor noted that while the list was comprehensive they did miss amongst “our French tipple” the wines of “Lafitte, Chateau Margaux, haut Brion, and Grave”.  Still, it was found that the “list is, nevertheless, superb, and enough to awaken a dry reviewer’s ( or any other body’s) thirst.”

Table of the Principal Known Wines. Part 1. 1826. [2]

Table of the Principal Known Wines. Part 1. 1826. [2]

For this post I have reproduced the table, broken apart into two pieces, using a clear version printed in the National Gazette.[2] This is a fascinating table for two obvious reasons and one more subtle.  First, it provides a succinct description of what all the major unadulterated wines tasted like nearly two hundred years ago.  Second, it provides insight into a form of tasting note and associated vocabulary.  The third reason is both subtle and important.  Hugh Johnson recently published the article “From Earnest Bud to Exotic Flower” in The World of Fine Wine.[3]  He admits that he had “been tempted to compile a sampler of the ways we used to write about wine.  I needn’t go back earlier than the century before last; indeed, I can’t; there were no writers employed at the job.”  While acknowledging Edward Barry and Alexander Henderson it is Cyrus Redding who is his “professional progenitor”.  This chart thus appears in the decade before Cyrus Redding published A History and Description of Modern Wines (1833).  That makes it amongst the earliest examples of comprehensive English tasting notes.

Table of the Principal Known Wines. Part 2. 1826. [2]

Table of the Principal Known Wines. Part 2. 1826. [2]

There are fascinating descriptions such as that for Romanee Conti, Clos Vougeot, Chambertin, etc. that are grouped together with the description, “Beautiful, rich, purple colour; exquisite flavor with a full body, yet delicate and light.”  Of the red Hermitage wines of Meal, Greffieux, etc., “Dark purple colour; flavor exquisite, and perfume resembling that of the raspberry.”  The wines of Rivesaltes had the “flavour of quince” and the wines of Chateaux Lafite, Latour, Leoville, Margaux, and Rauzan smelled of “violet perfume”.  It is true that the color and body descriptions reign supreme while the aromas and flavors are less common.  I should note that the table includes a column for the alcohol content of each wine reflecting the rising scientific curiosity about wine.  Alcohol content soon becomes a major focus in assigning wine duties because it indicates a line between natural wines and those adulterated with spirits.

[1] The Literary Gazette: A Weekly Journal of Literature, Science …, Volume 10. 1826. URL:
[2] Page: 4. Date: Thursday, July 27, 1826 Paper: National Gazette (Philadelphia, PA) Page: 4. Geneaology Bank.
[3] Johnson, Hugh. “From Earnest Bud to Exotic Flower”, The World of Fine Wine. Issue 44, Q2, 2014.

Categories: History of Wine

Italians wines with pizza at Delancey’s

September 30, 2014 Leave a comment

A group of us recently met up with Julia to eat pizza at Delancey’s in Ballard.   This is a top-notch spot for pizza particularly when the dough is prepared by the guy with big fingers and cooked by the owner Brandon.  Bigger fingers apparently yield those bigger, crispy bubbles when cooked.  On our night the guy with the little fingers yielded lower lying crust that was crispier.  Finger differences aside the six of us polished off five pizzas.  As fanatical as Brandon is about details in his cooking and cocktails, his interesting assortment of wines scales the heights of the walls.  Which means they also ascend to the warm side in temperature.  That did not bother me as I walked in with a pair of Italian wines recommended by Michael the proprietor of Pike & Western Wine Shop.

I knew that the four other guys in our group prefered beer so I figured Julia and I would just split the leftover wine.  Despite the presence of beer one of them tried the Monsecco and pronounced it better than the box wine he typically buys.  The others joined in one by one due to curiosity then of course it was time to sample the Terradora di Paolo.  Sample pours switched to full wine glasses.  The bottles were quickly getting low so I scratched out the few tasting notes you may find below.   The telling moment came when it was pronounced, “The wine is better with the food than the beer.”


2009 Monsecco, Pratogrande, Nebbiolo, Colline Novaresi – $27
Imported by Neal Rosenthal.  This wine is 100% Nebbiolo.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was tight on the fruit but had articulated aromas of tobacco and red berries.  In the mouth were black fruit flavors, dry tannins, supportive acidity, and a drying finish.  This is a great buy for it retails at $22 in NYC.


2008 Terradora di Paolo, Fatica Contadina, Taurasi – $30
Imported by VIAS.  This wine is 100% Aglianico that was aged for 12 months in very large oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This was a fruit driven wine that while remaining compact, responded well to air.  It mixed berries, tobacoo, and dark fruit before the attractively inky and dark finish.


“As will make it pretty thick”: A quick look at wine and dung

September 29, 2014 1 comment

When it comes to the subject of wine and animal dung I am accustomed to reading about it in the context of augmenting vineyard soils.  In this sense a “manur’d vine” was one that was “husbanded” or cultivated and not a wild vine.  S.J wrote in The Vineyard (1727) that the soils of France were poor thus manure was applied on a yearly basis.[1]  Applying manure had its critics such as Jethro Tull who wrote in Horse-hoeing Husbandry (1752) that the “dung’d Vineyards in Languedoc produce nauseous Wine”.[2]  Jethro Tull goes on to cite the proverb, “That poor Peoples Wine is best, because they carry no Dung to their Vineyards.”  With such a background I was thus surprised, due to a lack of knowledge about medical recipes, to read of one particular medical cure that involved a mixture of wine and sheep’s dung.

Kenelm Digby (1603-1665) by Anthony van Dyck. Image from Wikimedia.

Kenelm Digby (1603-1665) by Anthony van Dyck. Image from Wikimedia.

The particular recipe was “An infallible Remedy” to remove the markings of small pox in Sir Kenelm Digby’s Choice and Experimented Receipts in Physick and Chirugery (1668). [3]  This is not the first time Sir Kenelm Digby’s wine recipes have struck someone as interesting for Hermione Eyre blends Sir Kenelm Digby and the mysterious death of his wife Lady Venetia Digby in her debut historic-fantasy book Viper Wine.[4]  I simply recommend that your read Hermione Eyre’s description of her work but do know that Viper Wine was a popular “beauty potion” during a time when women applied lead with vinegar to their cheeks and that Anthony Van Dyck painted Lady Venetia Digby on her deathbed.

Jean de Renou’s “A Medicinal Dispensatory: Containing the Whole Body of Physick” 1657.

With my interest caught I took a very quick look at other medical recipes.  The Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh published an “Anti-epileptic Tincture” that contained peacock’s dung with French wine amongst other ingredients.[5]  Sir Richard Blackmore recommended a “strong Expression of Horse Dung” with “French White Wine, or Rhenish” after “copious Bleeding” for consumption.[6]  John Floyer felt that goose dung, celandine, madder root, cinnamon, and saffron infused in wine would help with hot jaundice.[7]  In an older recipe, Jean de Renou noted that patients and doctors avoid dung due to its “ingrateful fapour… Yet, Mouse-dung, with white-wine, is good to break and exclude the stone”.[8]  Many of the recipes call for a mixture of several herbs with the dung and wine. Unfortunately, Sir Kenelm Digby’s “thick” recipe was made from only two ingredients.

An infallible Remedy for the same.

In a wine glass full of Sack dissolve as much Sheeps-dung newly taken out of the Sheeps-gut warm, as will make it pretty thick, yet so, that the Patient may drink it: Let him drink this, and lye quietly in his bed reasonably warm covered : This will make him sweat, and cause the Pox or Measles to come out kindly, and finish the cure very speedily.

[1] S.J. The Vineyard, a treatise, the observations made by a gentleman in his travels. 1727. URL:
[2] Tull, Jethro. Horse-hoeing Husbandry, Or, An Essay on the Principles of Vegetation and Tillage.  1752. URL:
[3] Digby, Kenelm. Choice and Experimented Receipts in Physick and Chirugery. 1668. URL:
[4] Eyre, Hermione. Venetia Stanley: did viper wine kill the 17th century beauty? March 12, 2014. The Telegraph. URL:
[6] The Dispensatory of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. 1727. URL:
[6] Blackmore, Richard. A Treastise of Consumptions and Other Distempers Belonging to the Breast and Lungs. 1724. URL:
[7] Floyer, John. The Physicians Pulse-watch. 1710. URL:
[8] de Renou, Jean. A Medicinal Dispensatory. 1657. URL:

Categories: History of Wine

A drinking “bee” in the Yukon circa 1899.

September 26, 2014 Leave a comment

This unusual photograph shows six young women sitting around a table drinking wine in White Chapel, Dawson in the Yukon territory. White Chapel was the prostitution district of Klondike City.  The women are all sporting hats, glasses and bottles of wine, and puppies!  There is also a dog.  Good times are clearly being staged for there are at least ten bottles of wine and a small cask.  Unfortunately, there is not enough resolution to make out what the labels are.

A drinking "bee" at White Chapel, Dawson. ca 1899. Alaska State Library.  [1]

A drinking “bee” at White Chapel, Dawson. ca 1899. Alaska State Library. [1]

[1] A drinking “bee” at White Chapel, Dawson. ca 1899. #ASL-P41-053. Alaska State Library. URL:

Even more from Italy!!!

September 26, 2014 Leave a comment

There is so much to try from Italy that I always seem to have stacks of pictures and notes waiting to be posted.  This apparent bias stems from my trend of the summer to taste a smaller variety of wine and drink more humble southern French wines.  There are some good bottles below.  At the more affordable end both the 2008 Duca di Salaparuta, Passo Delle Mule, Nero d’Avola, Sicily and the 2008 Pio Cesare, Oltre, Langhe should be tried.  You can drink the former while the later develops. For a few bucks more the 2007 Montepeloso, Eneo, Tuscany reminds me of an Italian claret that is entering middle age. Fun!  I finally recommend you try the 2011 Pala, Cannonau di Sardegna Reserva.  There is a reason why both the 2011 and 2012 vintages won Tre Bicchieri. I recommend you find out yourself by pulling the cork.  Please find my tasting notes in order of increasing age.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2011 Pala, Cannonau di Sardegna Reserva – $26
Imported by Banville & Jones Wine Merchants.  This wine is 100% Cannonau that was aged in large French barrels followed by stainless steel.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose revealed mixed blue and red berries along with spices and black tea.  The wine showed ripe, black fruit with air and was clearly blacker with a mineral hint in the finish.  This was a well-balanced all around enjoyable wine with tannins, extract, and a little spicy bit in the aftertaste.  I enjoyed the slight tobacco, spices, and wood box notes.  *** Now-2022.


2009 Sella & Mosca, Tanca Farra, Alghero – $23
Imported by Palm Bay International.  This wine is a blend of 50% Cannonau and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for two years in oak casks.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose of clean fruit mixed with herbacious notes from the Cabernet Sauvignon.  The mouth followed the nose with black, clean, herbacious fruit. This tight wine had firm acidity, some fresh herbs, and a dry, dusty finish.  ** 2016-2020.


2009 Taurino, Salice Salentino Rosso Riserva – $14
Imported by Verity Wine Partners.  This wine is a blend of 90% Negroamaro and 10% Malvasia Nera that was aged for six months in small oak barriques.  Alcohol 14%.  There was an interesting nose with a subtle soil aroma, stones, and black fruit.  The flavors were closely played, ripe, and matched by integrated acidity.  It eventually revealed strawberry flavors with a slightly tannic finish.  Seems young and in need of a wee bit of age.  ** 2015-2020.


2008 Duca di Salaparuta, Passo Delle Mule, Nero d’Avola, Sicily – $17
Imported by Wine Cellars.  This wine is 100% Nero d’Avola that was aged in barriques.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a good deep nose of scented black fruit.  The black fruit flavors follow the nose and take on some wood notes as well.  This weightier wine was a little meaty with seamless acidity, subtle structure, and a finish of dense, dark wood.  It even had a little kick.  *** Now-2017.


2008 Pio Cesare, Oltre, Langhe – $17
Imported by Maisons Marques & Domaines USA.  Thsi wine is a blend of Barbera, Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  Alcohol.  There was an interesting grapey nose with mulberry aromas.  In the mouth this young wine opened up well after half an hour.  It had a certain brightness to the black and red fruit.  There was a tobacco note, round tart red fruit followed by a dry and black finish.  **(*) 2015-2020.


2007 Montepeloso, Eneo, Tuscany –
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is a blend of 40% Montepulciano, 25% Sangiovese, 25% Marselan, and 10% Alicante Bouschet that was aged in used French oak barrels. Alcohol 14.5%.  There was claret-like red fruit and wood box on the nose.  with air it took on herbs and meaty aromas.  The flavors began with red fruit before taking on black notes and minerals in the finish.  There was good integrated acidity that was balanced by the structure of citric-pith tannin.  The wine is developing secondary flavors and after many hours of air it some some dense blue and black flavors that lean towards the dry.  *** 2016-2024.


2007 Fattoria Del Cerro, Caggio Al Vescovo, Rosso Toscano – $20
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Colorino.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was tight revealing just subtle leather aromas.  In the mouth this modern wine had ripe grip to the flavors dominated by tobacco, smoke, and bacon in the drying finish.  This wine will clearly last but there is more structure than fruit.  **(*) Now-2022.


2006 Taurino, Notarpanaro, Salento Rosso – $20
Imported by Verity Wine Partners.  This wine is 100% Negroamaro.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This wine had a light nose of dark aromas.  In the mouth were dark red fruit and other low-lying flavors.  This was a cool, ripe wine that took several hours to open up and show black, almost mineral infused fruit.  **(*) 2016-2022.

Drinking wine from skins somewhere in Asia circa 1919-1920

September 25, 2014 Leave a comment

This image shows five men inside a building or a tavern that contains several wineskins.  The men are dressed in three different manners all of which reflect the cooler temperature.  The two men who sit in the foreground have some sort of wooly vests that match their hats.  The two men that are standing in the background have dark long coats with buttons and darker hats.  The fifth man appears to work with the wine, he has an apron on and is filling up a large metal pitcher.  There appears to be a brazier on the floor.  A few of the skins are probably from ox, one of which is on a shelf or rack several feet off of the ground.

Cantina col vino nelle otri. Novarese, Vittorio. Ca. 1919-1920. Number 26659. Società geografica italiana. [1]

Cantina col vino nelle otri. Novarese, Vittorio. Ca. 1919-1920. Number 26659. Società geografica italiana. [1]

[1] Cantina col vino nelle otri. Novarese, Vittorio. Ca. 1919-1920. Number 26659. Società geografica italiana.  URL:

California Chardonnay

September 25, 2014 Leave a comment

This year the 2012 Neyers Vineyards, Chardonnay 304, Sonoma County has remained our hands-down favorite Chardonnay from California both for flavor and price.  It is not always in stock so this forces us to try other wines.  Of the three wines featured in this post I would recommend the 2010 La Follette, Chardonnay, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Sonoma County.  I have enjoyed the entry-level wines of La Follette before so I was pleased by the lovely acidity of this more expensive bottling.  The 2009 Chalone Vineyards, Estate Chardonnay, Chalone is rather interesting too for it bears its age very well.  While this should last the acidity is in more of a supportive role so maybe its best to drink it up.   These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2011 Fontanella Family Winery, Chardonnay, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley – $26
This wine is 100% Chardonnay.  Alcohol 14.4%.  There was yellow fruit and apple aromas on the nose.  In the mouth this fruit-forward wine offered up creamy and tropical flavors that persisted throughout.  Notes of minerals and toast came out.  The wine was lush with some acidity on the sides of the tongue but it lost some grip at the end.  It had a persistent aftertaste.  ** Now.


2010 La Follette, Chardonnay, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Sonoma County – $35
This wine is 100% Chardonnay.  Alcohol 14.2%.  The nose revealed old perfume, yellow fruit, and toast.  In the mouth the wine quickly took on weight but still had some nervous acidity on the tongue tip.  The acidic grip on the tongue remained over two nights, enlivening the smoked/toasted infused fruit.  The acidity returned in the finish with apple-like notes led to a textured and salivating aftertaste.  *** Now-2017.


2009 Chalone Vineyards, Estate Chardonnay, Chalone – $22
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from a vineyard at 1,800 feet of elevation.  It was raised in oak barrels.  The nose had yellow fruit accented by toast notes. In the mouth the yellow fruit was rounded with glycerin.  The wine slowly built toast infused flavors as well as texture mixed with minerals by the finish.  There was some toast in the aftertaste.  This drinks well now with the acidity sub servant to the mouthfeel.  *** Now-2017.


Receipt of Wine, with Order for Payment from the Third Century

September 24, 2014 Leave a comment

I am on a bit of a kick when it comes to searching for images that I have never seen before.  Today’s image moves us back some 1600 years from India to Egypt to show us a receipt for wine.  While I am aware of extensive histories related to Egyptian wine I still find it staggering to see such original documentation.  This particular receipt details 84 keramia that were taken from one vat and 85 keramia from another.  In Roman Egypt a keramia was one of several measures used. [1]  You may find the complete translation below.


Receipt of Wine, with Order for Payment. Mid-IIIrd century A.D. Advanced Papyrological Information System. University of Michigan. [2]

Receipt of Wine, with Order for Payment. Mid-IIIrd century A.D. Advanced Papyrological Information System. University of Michigan. [2]

Translation: “Phaophi 18. Herakleides has received from Eu… eighty-four keramia from the first vat and eighty-five keramia from the second vat, which equal one hundred sixty-nine keramia, equal 169. Give the price to the landowner, in accordance with the instructions concerning the contract.”

[1] URL:
[2] Rathbone, Dominic.  Economic Rationalism and Rural Society in Third-Century AD Egypt. 1991. URL:


September 24, 2014 Leave a comment

From white to red this post features an array of Italian wines so there is bound to be a wine for you.  In focusing on two wines the 2012 Castelluccia Miano, Miano, Catarratto, Sicilia is made to good effect from the second most widely planted grape in Italy.  The unique combination of acidity, creamy fruit, and chalk will last all week.  I have heard it from several merchants that the warm 2009 Barolo vintage combined with contemporary winemaking techniques yields early drinking wines.  One example of which is the 2009 Reverdito, Barolo.  I never would have thought this true until I tried this contemporary wine that blends Nebbiolo traits with bottle aged notes.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages and Weygandt Wines.


2012 Castelluccia Miano, Miano, Catarratto, Sicilia – $15
Imported by Grappoli Imports.  This wine is 100% Catarratto sourced from vines grown at 2240-2880 feet in altitude.  The wine was fermented and raised in stainless steel.  Alcohol 12%.  There was a light nose of white fruit.  The crisp, textured entry made way to creamy, yellow and white fruit flavors.  The acidity prickle on the tongue tip remained over night.  It had a hint of toast, chalk infused finish, and fresh aftertaste.  *** Now-2015.


2011 Cantina Sant’Isidoro, Montolmo, Marche Rosso – $19
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese raised in stainless steel.  Alcohol 14%. There was an interesting combination of tuna roll and smoke to this round, inky wine.  It was robust with ripe flavors of black fruit, dark flavors, glycerin, and a smoky aftertaste.  **(*) Now-2018.


2010 Cantina Sociale Dorgali, Viniola, Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva – $19
Imported by Monsieur Touton.  This wine is 100% Cannonau that was aged for 12 months in barriques.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was a very subtle nose of raspberry.  In the mouth were focused flavors of black and red fruit.  The wine had some lift as well as ripe, textured spiced in the finish.  The long, ripe tannin remained on the gums.  There was a touch of roughness in the finish followed by fine, drying tannin the aftertaste.  **(*) Now-2020.


2006 Falesco, Marciliano, Rosso Umbria – $22
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc .  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose revealed some greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth were nice, tight black fruit flavors.  The wine had a close vein of fruit but was mouth filling with clean, greenhouse-free flavors.  The wine was appropriately young with good structure as well as leather hints, saltiness, and cinnamon.  *** Now-2024.


2009 Reverdito, Barolo – $35
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Nebbiolo raised in 1000L oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  This wine was immediately approachable with floral red fruit, wood notes, and a focused ripe finish.  The wine is taking on secondary flavors.  The good, modern fruit became savory, taking on a hint of tea and sweet wood notes.  Nice. *** Now-2024.


A 19th century Indian image of a servant holding a wine bottle and tumbler

September 23, 2014 Leave a comment

This is an interesting image given the unique wine bottle.  It has a protruding cork sealing the opening, sloped shoulder of a dark color, and a red, cylindrical base.  The manner in which the shoulders meets the base combined with the color differences suggests it might be earthenware or some other non-glass container.  If it truly were dark glass then that implies either a red, wrap around label or some sort of holder.  Any thoughts?  Were corks produced in India or were they all imported?

Wine and water-cooler holding a tumbler and bottle. [1]

Wine and water-cooler holding a tumbler and bottle. [1]

[1] Wine and water-cooler holding a tumbler and bottle. Artist: Muhammad Amir, Shaikh, of Karraya (fl.1830s-40s). c. 1846. The British Library.  URL: