2 february 1785
Cyrus Redding is born in Pernyn (Cornwall, England).
Cyrus Redding was one of the first and most famous wine writers, at least in the modern meaning of the word.
He travelled a lot through France and he is the author of “A history and description of modern wines” which sparked my interest on 19th century wine history. Even though he did not travel to many of the Countries he describes in the book, his writings really offer a window on the reality of making wine in Europe 200 years ago.
I am particularly intrigued by what he tells about Italian wines, which partially explains why they still lag behind french wines, at least in terms of renown.
The first article on this site, years ago, concentrated on this topic.
16 February 1907
Poet Giosué Carducci passes away in Bologna (Emilia-Romagna, Italy).
In Italy he is still very famous and primary school kids usually learn by heart some of his poems (I did as well). The most famous is “San Martino”, whose first lines recite:
“La nebbia a gl’irti colli
e sotto il maestrale
urla e biancheggia il mar;
ma per le vie del borgo
dal ribollir de’ tini
va l’aspro odor dei vini
l’anime a rallegrar.”
(The fog to the steep hills
amid the rain ascends,
and under the mistral
the sea screams and whitens;
but through the alleys of the village
from the bubbling vats
goes the sour smell of wine
the souls to rejoyce.
Translation from http://www.italyheritage.com/)
So what wine is Carducci talking about?
The town described in the work is Bolgheri, whom the author visited many times in his youth. In fact he lived some years in a village nearby, which at his death was renamed after him, Castagneto Carducci.
22 February 1988
With the law 157/1988 a new tier is created in Spanish wine law, that of the “Denominación de Origen Calificada”.
Spanish denomination of origin system is similar to that of Italy, with the four levels of Vino de Mesa, Vino de la Tierra, Denominación de Origen and Denominación de Origen Calificada. However this last, highest level is accorded very sparingly only to exceptional regions. In fact at present only Rioja (1991) and Priorat (2003) fall in this category (on the other hand Italy’s DOCG amount to 74).
Conditions to obtain a DOCa are quite tight and include a higher price of the grapes, quality controls by a Consejo Regulador, bottling in the area of production and at least 10 years in the DO level.
23 February 1757
The Tippler’s Revolt takes place in the streets of Oporto.
The protest originated in the creation of the Real Companhia das Vinhas do Alto Douro by Marquês de Pombal, José I Prime Minister . This organization received the power to fix prices, to decide taxes and to make rules in protection of Port wine authenticity (this led to the first demarcation of Port region, one of the oldest in wine history). Furthermore it could decide what tavern could sell Port in Oporto and nearby area (three leagues from the city) and it had the exclusive right to export port to Brazil (a Portuguese colony at the time). Merchants could still export to other Countries, but in this case the wine had to be bought from the Companhia anyway.
The British traders in Oporto were not happy with this decision, especially since they had been excluded from the board of directors. The tavern owners were disappointed as well and blamed the organization for the steep increase in Port price. Dissatisfaction led to revolt.
The protest ended in blood, with twenty people hanged and one hundred banished. The British were accused of inciting the revolt and relations between UK and Portugal became strained for the first time in centuries. However the British government could not afford to lose the friendship of the Portuguese and ignored the shippers’ complaints.
25 February 1869
Moondyne Joe, Western Australia’s most famous bushranger, is captured in the most unlucky wine theft attempt of History.
Bushrangers were basically fugitive criminals who used to be robbers and leave in the wild. Moondyne Joe was one of the most famous.
An “escapologist”, in 1869 he was again being searched by the authorities. Charles William Ferguson of Houghton Wines was helping them. One day, afte an unfruitful search, Charles invited the police to his place to drink a glass of wine and have a break.
When he entered the cellar, surprise! Moondyne Joe was there just stealing his wines! The outlaw, startled, escaped through the door, but he found himself surrounded by equally surprised policemen.
This time he would have stayed in prison until 1871.