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Two 19th c. variants on “Madeira Wine A Parody” of the song “The Willow”

I find that “Madeira Wine” is a riot of a song particularly since I love both the drink itself and its history.  It appears in at least two published instances during the early 19th century.  The only dated instance is from October 17, 1808, in the Baltimore newspaper Federal Republican & Commercial Gazette.  The second instance is an anonymously published single sheet of music held by The Library of Congress dated to the first decade of the 19th century.  It is credited to “a Baltimorean” whom I take to be the same for both.

“Madeira Wine” is a self-titled parody on the song “The Willow” which is an Elizabethan folk song dating to the late 16th century.  This folk song is famously sung by Desdemona in William Shakespeare’s Othello.   Several times Desdemona sings ,”willow, willow, willow”.  The sheet music fully parodies “The Willow” which we see logically progress as more and more Madeira is consumed.  At first there is, “Mellow mellow mellow” then “Tipsy tipsy tipsy” and finally “I’m drunk, I’m drunk, I’m drunk”.

There is perhaps an allusion taking place in “Madeira Wine”.  I am no musicologist so bear with me. When Desdemona sings “The Willow” she is foretelling her eventual death.  Madeira was certainly the wine of America with Port and Claret that of England.  When the song was published, the turbulent times between America and England were soon to escalate into the War of 1812.  Could the Baltimorean be alluding to the troubles of the time?

Madeira Wine Newspaper

A Parody…Madeira Wine. Oct 17, 1808. [1]

A PARODY
On the famous Song “The Willow,”...to
the same tune.
MADEIRA WINE.

O fill me up another glass of that Madeira
Wine,
O fill me up another glass…for ’tis extremely fine,
I like the taste…so pray make haste,
A bump fill for me;
For here I sit…not quite drunk yet,
Altho’ I’ve drank so free.

I love to drink Madeira…no other Wine
endure,
I love to drink Madeira when it is old &
pure.
Of my full cask…a single flask
Is all that’s left to me;
That flask I’ll try…’tho’ here am I
Half tipsy as you see.
Half-tipsy tipsy
Half-tipsy as you see.

I once lov’d Port and Claret.. I thought
it ne’er would end,
I once lov’d Port and Claret…and so did
you my friend.
My Port so stout…is all drank out,
The Claret’s sour to me;
And I’ve drank fine, Madeira Wine,
Until I’m drunk you see–
I’m drunk, I’m drunk, I’m drunk,
Until I’m drunk you see!!!

Madeira Wine Sheet Music

Madeira wine a parody on the Willow. The LOC. [2]

MADEIRA WINE.
A Parody on the WILLOW.
By A BALTIMOREAN

O fill me up a_nother glass, Of that Madeira Wine,
O fill me up a_nother glass, For ’tis extremely fine
like the taste so pray make haste A Bumper fill for me For here I sit not
quite drunk yet, But mellow as you see Mellow mellow mellow But
mellow as you see.

2

I love to drink Madeira, no other wine endure,
I love to drink Madeira, when it is old and pure;
Of my full cask, a single flask, is all that’s left to me,
That flask I’ll try, tho’ here am I; half tipsy as you see.
Tipsy, &c.

3

I once lov’d Port and Claret, I thought it ne’er would end,
I once lov’d Port and Claret, and so did you my friend;
My Port so stout, is all drank out, the Claret’s sour to me,
And I’ve drank fine, Madeira wine, until I’m drunk you see.
I’m drunk, &c.

 


[1] Federal Republican & Commercial Gazette Monday, Oct 17, 1808, Baltimore, MD Vol: I Issue: 46 Page: 2

[2] Madeira wine a parody on the Willow. [180u, monographic. Publisher not indicated, 180] Notated Music. https://www.loc.gov/item/2015562175/.

Wine glasses and pitchers in the Friendship Album of Moyses Walens

Album Amicorum of Moyses Walens, of Cologne. The British Library. [1]

This fantastic dining scene caught my attention when The British Library Tweeted it earlier this summer.  It appears in the friendship album of Moyses Walens, of Cologne, and is from the same period as the Album Amicorum of Gervasius Fabricius, of Saltzburg.  This particular scene includes two additional details not seen in the Fabricius album: the storage and serving of the wine.  In the foreground bottom, are two large pitchers of wine cooling in a fountain of running water. In the left background, a standing man, his attention focused, is pouring white wine from a pitcher held by his outstretched arm into the wine glass of a gentleman in gold, seated at the table.  The glass is clear, large, and quite substantial, perhaps a variant of the tazza, with at least two large knops on the stem.  At the same table, the women with the pink striped dress and black hat with gold trim, holds a more delicate, clear glass containing white wine.

Detail from Album Amicorum of Moyses Walens, of Cologne. The British Library. [1]


[1]  Album Amicorum of Moyses Walens, of Cologne. 1605–15. Shelfmark:  Add MS 18991. The British Library. URL: https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/friendship-album-of-moyses-walens

Wine glasses in the Friendship Album of Gervasius Fabricius

Album Amicorum of Gervasius Fabricius, of Saltzburg. The British Library. [1]

When German and Dutch speaking students took tours through Europe during the mid-16th through mid-17th centuries, they kept friendship albums.  In these albums they would collect paintings and drawings of what they saw and experienced.  The picture featured in this post shows a group of men and women dining outside at a seaside estate.  There are three different styles of glasses.  Three men at the table are holding tall, clear flutes, two with white wine and one with red.  The man in the center foreground appears to offer a metal or painted gold-colored coupe of red wine to a seated lady.  Finally, the seated man in the background at the back end of the table, holds more of a goblet-shaped gold-colored vessel.  One detail I do not see is any serving vessel for the wine.

Detail from Album Amicorum of Gervasius Fabricius, of Saltzburg. The British Library. [1]


[1] Album Amicorum of Gervasius Fabricius, of Saltzburg. 1595-1637. Shelfmark: Add MS 17025. The British Library. URL: https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/friendship-album-of-gervasius-fabricius-zu-klesheim

A brief history of the 1928 Collection du Docteur Barolet (Henri de Villamont) Pommard-Epenots

A Brief History

According to the Christie’s auction house, the wines of Dr. Albert Barolet have their origins in a business created by his father Mr. Arthur Barolet.[1]  Mr. Arthur Barolet would purchase wine in barrel for delivery to his cellar in Beaune.  Here the wine would undergo elevage, bottling, and maturation at which point it was privately sold to various customers.

Map of Pommard from Camille Rodier “Le Vin de Bourgogne” c.1920.

There appears to be but few records regarding the Barolet firm which might be the result of it dealing with mostly private clients.  The firm of Arthur Barolet et Fils was founded in 1830.  This date is found on a blank menu titled “Gargantua aux Hospices de Beaune” from 1906 as well as on company letterhead from the 1940s.[2] In the early 20th century, there are a few listings of the firm mostly with regards to the annual sales of wine at the Hospices de Beaune.

Service announcement for the death of Arthur Barolet, 18 November 1931. [3]

Arthur Barolet passed away in 1931 at the Hospices de Beaune. [3]  The business was taken over by Dr. Albert Barolet who placed a few advertisements for the sale of barrels over the next few years.  The public side of the company appears to leave few traces after this point.

Advertisement by Dr. Albert Barolet during 1934. [4]

Upon Dr. Albert Barolet’s death in 1969, the wines were left to his two sisters who in turn sold the wine off to the Swiss firm Henri de Villamont.  That fall, Harry Waugh, wine director at Harvey’s of Bristol, visited the Barolet mansion.  Here he found tens of thousands of binned bottles with vintages dating back to 1911.  The youngest vintages, such as 1959, were still in wood.

The Villamont firm agreed to a major auction with Christie’s in order to determine the market pricing.  The bottles were unlabeled so new labels had to be created.  The Dr. Barolet wines continued to be sold after the first Christie’s auction in 1969.  According to Michael Broadbent’s notes, there was at least a second tranche released which had been recorked by de Villamont.

Local Sales of Dr. Barolet Wines

Dr. Barolet Wines offered at MacArthur Liquors’ Grand Opening, May 7, 1972. [5]

The wines were also available in the Washington, DC area beginning in 1972.  The pricing at MacArthur Liquors puts them in the range of the then recently released wines of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.  In reviewing two distinct periods of advertisements by Woodley Discount Wines & Spirits, also of Washington, DC, we can see that the prices nearly doubled between 1972 and 1979.

  • 1928 Dr. Barolet, Pommard-Rugiens – $26.95 in 1972
  • 1928 Dr. Barolet, Pommard-Rugiens – $69.95 in 1979
  • 1929 Dr. Barolet, Beaune – $17.95 in 1972
  • 1935 Dr. Barolet, Vosne Romanee Malconsorts – $49.95 in 1979
  • 1937 Dr. Barolet, Chambolle Musigny – $39.95  in 1979
  • 1937 Dr. Barolet, Gevrey Chambertin – $18.95 in 1972
  • 1937 Dr. Barolet, Grands Echezeaux – $18.95 in 1972
  • 1937 Dr. Barolet, Grands Echezeaux – $39.95 in 1979

The Bottle

The bottle of 1928 Collection du Docteur Barolet (Henri de Villamont) Pommard-Epenots features a tan label which is both torn and stained.  It appears to have been damp at some point resulting in an awkward positioning.

The back of the bottle features two gold foil stickers, one from the auction house and one from the importer.  This particular bottle was purchased at the 2006 Acker Merrall & Condit auction of Rudy Kurniawan’s “THE Cellar”.  The 1,700 lots which were sold brought in nearly $11 million.  As the bottle came from Kurniawan’s cellar it is immediatley suspect as a fake.  The importer strip label declares the contents as “3/4 QUART” which would date the label prior to the fall of 1976 when the metric system was adopted by liquor companies in America.  It also features a spelling mistake in the statement, “IMPORTED EXCUSIVELY FOR: VINTAGE CELLARS” which appears to reference a company that did not exist in the early 1970s.  The strip label itself is found over the embossed “75 cl” at the bottom of the glass wine bottle.

The metal capsule is clearly not from the 1920s nor is the cork.  The cork has some age to it and could possibly originate from 1969 or later when Henri de Villamont offered a tranche of recorked bottles.  There are no marks on the sides of the cork but the top does bear a circle with “F.S.” inside of it.

Detecting whether the wine in the bottle was blended by Rudy Kurniawan or is the real thing is a bit of a task.  It is a long-held belief that Dr. Barolet doctored his wines.  Back in 1990, the great collector Lloyd Flatt felt the wines had either see the addition of Port or Brandy.[6]  This is echoed in the opinion of John Tilson who was told Cognac was added to the barrels.

When I saw the mark on the cork, a particular phrase came to mind which is the exact same phrase that occured to my friend.  After I showed him my various pictures of the bottle, labels, and then the cork he quipped, “Fake Sh*t.”


[1] COLLECTION DU DOCTEUR BAROLET. Christie’s Fine and Rare Wines, Sale #1206, New York, 19 March 2003.

[2] “Gargantua aux Hospices de Beaune” published by Arthur Barolet et Fils. FR212316101__menus__M_III_01906. Bibliotheque municipale de Dijon.

[3] Le Progrès de la Côte-d’Or : journal politique. Dijon. 20 November 1931. Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Droit, économie, politique, JO 88353 URL: http://catalogue.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb32844000t

[4] Le Progrès de la Côte-d’Or : journal politique. Dijon. 12 August 1934. Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Droit, économie, politique, JO 88353. URL: http://catalogue.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb32844000t

[5] Grand Opening advertisement for Addy Bassin’s MacArthur Liquors.  May 7, 1972.  The Sunday Star.

[6] Berger, Dan. “At New Orleans Tasting, Everyone Raised a Glass to Vintage Burgundies”. May 3, 1990.  The Los Angeles Times.

[7] Tilson, John. “THE SORDID STORY OF WINE MANIPULATION & WINE FRAUD COVERING OVER 40 YEARS OF TASTING OLD WINES”. The Underground Wineletter. URL: https://www.undergroundwineletter.com/2012/01/the-sordid-story-of-wine-manipulation-wine-fraud-covering-over-40-years-of-tasting-old-wines/

Early 19th century decanters with Logic, Jerry, Tom, and Corinthian Kate

An Introduction, Gay moments of Logic, Jerry, Tom and Corinthian Kate. From Pierce Egan’s Life in London , 1823. [1]

Thoughts of old decanters led me to publish this post featuring Tom, Jerry, Logic, and Corinthian Kate.  You might recognize the three men for I feature them as the title image in my Fine, Rare, and Capital Old Wine page.  If you look closely at the table you will see a trio of three-ringed decanters of which two contain red wine.  These two decanters are placed in coasters.  Perhaps they contain claret?

egan-pierce-life-838i2-064423_detail

Detail from An Introduction, Gay moments of Logic, Jerry, Tom and Corinthian Kate. From Pierce Egan’s Life in London , 1823. [1]


[1]Egan, Pierce.  Life in London. 1823.  The British Library.  Shelfmark: 838.i.2.  URL: https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/pierce-egans-life-in-london

“[An] instance discharge of 13 cannon”: Madeira in celebration

1784IndependenceDayToastsBoston

Independence Day Toasts from Boston, 1784.

For much of American history, Madeira was the drink of choice. In some colonies, such as New York, Madeira accounted for nearly 85% of all wine imports. Down in Charleston, South Carolina it was the “common” wine drunk. The best Madeira was obtained by ordering straight from the Island. While there are sadly few records left on the Island itself, the lengthy process of ordering, paying for, and arranging shipment appear in American letter books with insights into the preferences for this wine and the culture that developed around it. While we cannot specifically describe if Madeira was drunk at all of the early Independence Day celebrations,  it is possible to examine how it was used in toasting at other important celebrations.

As soon as George Washington was proclaimed, “The President of the United States”, there was an “instant discharge of 13 cannon and loud repeated shouts”. There were no immediate toasts that Thursday, April 29, 1789, for the new President retired to the Senate Chamber to deliver a speech. There was, however, a celebration that evening, along with two hours of fireworks, and prior to that, numerous celebrations as George Washington journeyed from his home at Mount Vernon, Virginia up to New York for his inauguration. These were, no doubt, noisy affairs. A week earlier, in Philadelphia, the bells were rung throughout the day and night while a feu de joie was fired as he moved to the City Tavern. Here he was treated to an “elegant Entertainment” for 250 people. After each toast there was a discharge of artillery.

If the firing of guns and artillery were common at these celebrations then so too was toasting. Celebrations took place that year not just for the Presidential Inauguration but the Anniversary of Independence , Artillery Elections , and even the re-election of Governor Clinton of New York. Newspaper articles recount the toasts throughout that century: On Independence Day at Fraunces Tavern “toasts suited to the occasion were drank”. After toasting George Washington, “the officers rose and saluted it with three cheers; and the band immediately gave General Washington’s march”, at the New York Artillery Election, “1. The illustrious THE PRESIDENT of the United States – [three cheers.]”, and back at Fraunces’ Tavern for Governor Clinton, 13 toasts “were drank, under the American salute of cannons to each” including “12. The memory of these heroes who gallantly fought and died in defence of American liberty.”

Despite the detailed records of toasts and discharges of weaponry, there are but few accounts of what was drunk. If we look at Independence Day celebrations, we find a few reports of what was consumed. At the 1781 celebration in Princeton, the Governor and his company drank a “few draughts of good punch”. It appears most of the crowds drank “water, beer, cider”. The ratification of the Constitution in 1788 saw a fad for all things American. At one celebration people were refreshed with “federal punch“. The massive Grand Federal Procession in Philadelphia called out imported liquors as non-Federal so only “American porter, beer and cyder” were served. There was noise for the toasts, of course, announced by a trumpet, answered by a discharge of 10 artillery which in turn was answered by a discharge from the ship Rising Sun.

If beer and cyder were the celebratory drinks of the masses then we must turn to the dinners attended by officers, elected officials, and wealthy landowners.

3b51039u

“Washington Taking Leave of the Offices of the Army”

It was not until peace was reached at the end of 1782 that Madeira began to flow again with the resumption of trade. In Maryland, at the Official State Celebration for Peace and Independence, we find Madeira being served. The celebration was held on April 23, 1783, and was hosted by Charles Carroll at his family house in Annapolis, Maryland. General George Washington was a guest. After dinner there were thirteen toasts answered by the discharge of thirteen cannon. The state house was illuminated at night where an “elegant entertainment” took place.

We fortunately know what was drunk because the bill for the dinner and the ball survived. At dinner the waiters served 49 gallons of Claret, 35 gallons of Port, 32 gallons of Madeira, and 6 gallons of spirits. There were surely a few hundred people in attendance because over 1,000 pounds of meat was prepared and 43 wine glasses lost.

After the last British troops left New York City on November 25, 1783, and the American troops took possession of the city, a procession led by General Washington and Governor Clinton made its way to Fraunces’ Tavern were the Governor gave an Evacuation Day celebratory dinner. For the 13 toasts we know it was primarily Madeira that was drunk that evening, some 75 bottles of it compared to 18 Claret and 16 Port. At a dinner shortly before George Washington resigned his commission in December 1783, 120 diners drank some 135 bottles of Madeira compared to 36 of port. There were 60 wine glasses broken.

Perhaps no dinner affirms Madeira as the drink of America as the December 20, 1803, celebration of the Louisiana Purchase. To complete the purchase Spain turned over the land to the French who then turned over the same land to the United States. Civil and military officers from all three countries were present at the evening dinner. After the first course there were three toasts: ”Charles the 4th and Spain, in Malaga and Canary. The French Republic and Bonaparte, in Red and White Champagne” and “The United States and Jefferson, in Madeira. ” Each minister toasted with wine considered of their country. In the expenditures of the US Commissioners who took possession of the land between that December 1803 and the end of April 1804, we find they required some 196.5 gallons and 1 quarter-cask of Madeira.

If you are not in possession of a cask of Madeira then a bottle or even a glass for your Independence Day celebration will suffice.  Give your toast to the day as the fireworks are going off and you might form a sense of what it was like to celebrate in the 18th century.

Wente’s 1978 Centennial Reserve Petite Sirah delivers

I recently pulled out the pair of 1978 bottles from Wente Bros. for dinner after a tasting with several friends.  I thought I would write about these wines separately, as the history is a bit interesting.  Wente Bros. of Livermore, California was founded in 1883 by Carl Heinrich Wente who came over from Hanover, Germany.  His background was in husbandry but as cellar man to Charles Krug he learned to make wine.  Nearly 80 years later, his grandson Karl Wente took over the management of the winery.  In 1975, Karl Wente was named Wine Man of the year.  This was just the second award given out by the Friends of the Junior Art Center for the first went to Andre Tschelistcheff.  The distinguished company is is not surprising for historic newspaper accounts reveal the high regard held for the wines of Wente.

Carl Heinrich Wente brought cuttings from France to California to plant in his vineyards.  The alluvial deposits of the Livermore Valley were regarded as similar to the soils of Graves thus early plantings included Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and even Chardonnay. It was through the mid 20th century that Wente’s fame came from its Semillon.  In 1939, The Marquis de la Saluces, of Chateau d’Yquem, even visited Wente to see how his Semillon cuttings were coming along.   In the 1940s, you could purchase the “Cali Chateau Yquem” from the “famed” Wente Brothers.  Jane Nickerson commented on the various Wente white wines, noting the Semillon wines were the closest category to French Sauternes.

Second generation, Hermann Wente passed away in 1961.  Third-generation Karl Wente subsequently modernized the winery in 1964 and 1965.  This efforted included a new, large insulated and air conditioned winery, stainless steel presses and stainless steel tanks with temperature controlled jackets.  There was room for one million gallons of wine in tank and 50,000 bottles.  Of course, the old oak oval barrels still had their place in the winery.

In the late 1970s, neighboring Joe Concannon advocated for Petite Sirah from the Livermore Valley.  The Petite Sirah name was often lent to the “more vulgar” cousin Duriff which grew throughout California.  Petite Sirah and Duriff were typically used as a blending wine but Joe Concannon started to bottle Petite Sirah as a single variety.  After many years of bottle aging it would provide a wine with a “dependable bottle bouquet”.  Concannon’s Petite Sirah became a benchmark for the variety.

The fourth generation of Wente brothers took control of the winery in 1977.  Wente followed Concannon for they chose to release the 1978 vintage of Petite Sirah on their centennial anniversary.  Wente had planted Duriff in 1916, which was used in their Burgundy, but it was pulled out for Petite Sirah in 1940.

This choice paid off for 1978 Wente Bros., Petite Sirah, Centennial Reserve, Livermore Valley showed well at our dinner.  After double-decanting, it slowly improved over the course of an hour.  It is a dark flavored wine, supple and dense, yet eminanting from it is an attractive, floral quality.  There are many years of life ahead.  While I do not know if it will ever become more complex, it speaks entirely of 1970s California which I like.  Sadly, the 1978 Wente Bros., Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley has not held up.  It is dark and rich with almost no supporting acidity.

1978 Wente Bros., Petite Sirah, Centennial Reserve, Livermore Valley
This wine was aged for 6 months in small oak barrels then a further 2 years in large oak and redwood cooperage.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Perfumed on the nose, with air dark fruit with floral notes lifting it up.  Supple in the mouth but dark and dense with ripe spices and a lovely, inky nature.  It is perfumed in flavor and expansive in the mouth.  ***(*) Now – 2024.

1978 Wente Bros., Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  Dark in color, dark in aroma and flavor.  Unfortunately, this wine is past prime, you can smell it on the nose and in the mouth it is flabby with almost no supporting acidity.  It might have been a very fruity, forward wine in youth.  Not Rated.