Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

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Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by jdaw1 » 02:42 Sun 07 Sep 2008

In the thread entitled [url=http://www.theportforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1993]Vintagewise, by André L. Simon[/url], jdaw1 wrote:This thread contains the text of the chapter on Port in André L. Simon’s book Vintagewise, as typed by jdaw1. There will doubtless be errors in the typing, and readers may well have other comments. Please post corrections and comments in the thread Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments.

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Vintagewise: some comments and questions

Post by jdaw1 » 03:42 Sun 07 Sep 2008

  • What an astonishingly decadent book to be published in October 1945. Plenty of Brits were then hungry, let alone the general dysfunction on the continent, yet André Simon writes a book on wine including a review of the last century of port. Maybe people wanted to believe that there could be decadence again.
  • André Simon’s war:
    • April 1940 — Sandeman ’90;
    • “October 1941 and in April 1944† — Sandeman ’78;
    • June 1944 — “a ’68, presumably Cockburn†;
    • 1944 — Cockburn ’12.
    Oh what a wonderful war indeed!
  • Posh friends! Sir Max Pemberton and the wonderfully double-barrelled Sir James Agg-Gardner and Sir Francis Colchester-Wemyss.
  • Mixed British and American spelling; American-style punctuation, and at least one apostrophe crime. Some errors will have been introduced by the typist, but not all those of the preceding types.
  • The paragraph about 1909 was rather odd.
  • Commendation for the doubtful tone that ends: “Of ’96 I have had more than my fair share, maybe,†. I know that I haven’t.
  • What is a ‘black-strap’ wine? Is, for example, Fonseca 1985 a ‘black-strap’ wine?
  • “Graham 1878, bottled in 1882, … charming late-bottled vintage Port†: an early example of an LBV, in the imprecise way of the era.
  • Derek should mine the text for his list of all declarations.
  • Noteworthy is the existence of C. C. B. Moss. Was he really a Scottish port-loving mountaineer? If so, surely the only man ever to have scaled that triple-summit of birth, decadence and achievement.
  • And finally, that chapter was more than a little typing. Next time, perhaps we could share the labour.

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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by g-man » 04:39 Sun 07 Sep 2008

Fonseca 1985?? You sure you have the right century on the port?
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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by benread » 08:13 Sun 07 Sep 2008

A very interesting read. Thank you for doing this. Good to see the 70's are generally a great vintage whatever the century!
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Re: Vintagewise: some comments and questions

Post by DRT » 09:30 Sun 07 Sep 2008

jdaw1 wrote: Derek should mine the text for his list of all declarations.
Will do.

jdaw1 wrote: Noteworthy is the existence of C. C. B. Moss. Was he really a Scottish port-loving mountaineer? If so, surely the only man ever to have scaled that triple-summit of birth, decadence and achievement.
I am also Scottish as you know. I was born, am doing my best on the decadence front and have recently started scaling mountains. Perhaps I am the re-incarnated spirit of C. C. C. B. Moss? :lol:
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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by uncle tom » 12:18 Sun 07 Sep 2008

What is a ‘black-strap’ wine? Is, for example, Fonseca 1985 a ‘black-strap’ wine?
I have heard of this term before - I think it means a solid well extracted young port; dark and tannic, but not necessarily vintage.

Tom
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Re: Vintagewise: some comments and questions

Post by jdaw1 » 18:25 Sun 07 Sep 2008

jdaw1 wrote:What is a ‘black-strap’ wine? Is, for example, Fonseca 1985 a ‘black-strap’ wine?
Simon uses the term in three places (with my comments in grey).
  • “Now ’65, like ’53, has no general repute as a vintage, some people think the Rebello Valente ‘coarse’. I can only say that this, for a ‘black-strap’ wine, was excellent, and I confess that I do not despise ‘black-strap.’ †
    [Substitute “ruby† for “black-strap† throughout that sentence, and it makes perfect sense. The use of the term in that sentence sounds pejorative.]
  • The first two Vintage Ports of the century, 1900 and 1904, were, and still are, good wines, but very different from the old type of Vintage Port of the “black-strap† school.
  • The days of the “black-strap† Ports are gone and gone for ever.
    [These suggest a style of VP that is not altered by age, the passing of which is regretted by ALS. If one were to substitute in “young† this would make no sense.]
So Tom’s “solid well extracted young port; dark and tannic, but not necessarily vintage† doesn’t quite fit.
Webster’s online dictionary wrote:Black Strap Bad port wine. A sailor's name for any bad liquor. In North America, "Black-strap" is a mixture of rum and molasses, sometimes vinegar is added.
"The seething blackstrap was pronounced ready for use."- Pinkerton: Molly Magaires, chap. xvii. p. 174.
Also doesn’t quite fit.

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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by uncle tom » 19:01 Sun 07 Sep 2008

So Tom’s “solid well extracted young port; dark and tannic, but not necessarily vintage† doesn’t quite fit.
Not sure I agree..

While I stand to be corrected, my understanding has been that the term 'black-strap' had its origins in 19c military mess-rooms to denote a port suitable for everyday quaffing by the officer class.

The concept of 'declared' and 'undeclared' years, and also the designation of 'vintage' as being superior to all others, seems to have evolved post-phylloxera; thus the term 'black-strap' may have carried more weight in an otherwise confused field.

I think Andre Simon may be expressing nostalgia for the pre-phylloxera period here.

Tom

PS - I have it my mind that the re-birth of Q. Roriz as a wine in it's own name was hailed as a return to 'black-strap'; but who?, when? I can't recall..
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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by DRT » 00:09 Wed 10 Sep 2008

"He also has recorded his appreciation of a late bottled ’73, shipper’s name unknown, in the following terms: “But the gem of the three was a ’73, which had been allowed to remain in wood until it was eight or nine years old, and in bottle for about as much longer before I bought it."

Proof that the 19th century British port drinking public knew nothing of Colheita? (nothing much has changed in 120ish years)
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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by DRT » 00:18 Wed 10 Sep 2008

"we had the Sandeman ’78, at the Saintsbury Club Meetings, and it had stood the test of time admirably: it was deep in colour, fresh, full and fragrant; a real bargain at 65s. per dozen, which was the price the Club paid for it at the Queen Charlotte’s Hospital Sale, in April 1937"

So, in 1937 you could buy a case of 59 year old VP from a stellar vintage for £3.25 ($7) :crying:
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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by DRT » 00:47 Wed 10 Sep 2008

jdaw1 wrote:
jdaw1 wrote:What is a ‘black-strap’ wine? Is, for example, Fonseca 1985 a ‘black-strap’ wine?
Simon uses the term in three places (with my comments in grey).
  • “Now ’65, like ’53, has no general repute as a vintage, some people think the Rebello Valente ‘coarse’. I can only say that this, for a ‘black-strap’ wine, was excellent, and I confess that I do not despise ‘black-strap.’ †
    [Substitute “ruby† for “black-strap† throughout that sentence, and it makes perfect sense. The use of the term in that sentence sounds pejorative.]
  • The first two Vintage Ports of the century, 1900 and 1904, were, and still are, good wines, but very different from the old type of Vintage Port of the “black-strap† school.
  • The days of the “black-strap† Ports are gone and gone for ever.
    [These suggest a style of VP that is not altered by age, the passing of which is regretted by ALS. If one were to substitute in “young† this would make no sense.]
So Tom’s “solid well extracted young port; dark and tannic, but not necessarily vintage† doesn’t quite fit.
Webster’s online dictionary wrote:Black Strap Bad port wine. A sailor's name for any bad liquor. In North America, "Black-strap" is a mixture of rum and molasses, sometimes vinegar is added.
"The seething blackstrap was pronounced ready for use."- Pinkerton: Molly Magaires, chap. xvii. p. 174.
Also doesn’t quite fit.
uncle tom wrote:
So Tom’s “solid well extracted young port; dark and tannic, but not necessarily vintage† doesn’t quite fit.
Not sure I agree..

While I stand to be corrected, my understanding has been that the term 'black-strap' had its origins in 19c military mess-rooms to denote a port suitable for everyday quaffing by the officer class.

The concept of 'declared' and 'undeclared' years, and also the designation of 'vintage' as being superior to all others, seems to have evolved post-phylloxera; thus the term 'black-strap' may have carried more weight in an otherwise confused field.

I think Andre Simon may be expressing nostalgia for the pre-phylloxera period here.

Tom

PS - I have it my mind that the re-birth of Q. Roriz as a wine in it's own name was hailed as a return to 'black-strap'; but who?, when? I can't recall..
I think one of JDAWs initial quotes above lost some context in being cut short:

"The first two Vintage Ports of the century, 1900 and 1904, were, and still are, good wines, but very different from the old type of Vintage Port of the “black-strap† school. They both had their charm and good manners, but not the same stamina as their elders."

I think the last statement in this quote suggests that black-strap wines were made for the long-haul. Stamina is not a term I think anyone would use to describe Ruby. However, it may describe a brutally tannic style of port that was intended to last decades when shipped to far away places. I wonder how many Aussie prison wardens washed down their Roo steak dinner with a nice black-strap Roriz 1851?
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Re: Vintagewise: some comments and questions

Post by DRT » 01:46 Wed 10 Sep 2008

jdaw1 wrote: Derek should mine the text for his list of all declarations.
I have mined and (without checking for duplicates) have found references to 117 declared VPs from the 1800s plus a very small number that I had not previously encountered between 1900 and 1927.

In addition, I have found two references to vintages that were "declared by all shippers". These are 1878 and 1912. What should I assume from this?
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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by DRT » 02:50 Wed 10 Sep 2008

"1890...Professor George Saintsbury owned at some time or other some Cockburn, Rebello Valente, Dow, Silva & Cosens, Sandeman, Taylor, Tuke Holdsworth..."

Dow and Silva & Cosens are mentioned separately in this and at least one other list in this text. At first I assumed them to be one in the same. They are now, but were they then?
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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by jdaw1 » 03:07 Wed 10 Sep 2008

Saintsbury’s book is out of copyright, and will be appearing on TPF. Meanwhile, an extract, of ports owned by the Professor:

Code: Select all

         SHIPPERS AND YEARS

Cockburn     Dow        Croft    Sandeman
  1851       1870       1875       1863
  --81       --78       --85       --67
  --84       --87       --87       --70
  --90       --90       --94       --72
  --96       --96       1900       --73
  1900       --99       --04       --78
             1904                  --81
                                   --87
Martinez     Warre     Graham      --90
  1880       1878       1881       --91
  --87       --84       --84       --92
  1900       --87       --96       --97
             --90       --97       1900
             1900                  --08


 Silva &                Smith
 Cosens     Taylor    Woodhouse  Feuerheed
  1887       1884       1887       1873
  --90       --87       --96       --96
  --96       --90       --97       -- ?
  1901       1900               (bot. 1902)
  --02

                 Rebello      Tuke
       Offley    Valente   Holdsworth
        1887       1865       1890
        --92       --90

       Gould
      Campbell  Burmester   Uncertain
        1892       1900       1853
        1900                  --58
                              --61
                              --68
                              --70-74
                              --73

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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by DRT » 03:16 Wed 10 Sep 2008

Separate listing of Dow and Silva & Cosens probably answers one of my questions above.
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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by DRT » 03:23 Wed 10 Sep 2008

DRT wrote:Separate listing of Dow and Silva & Cosens probably answers one of my questions above.
But having just read Mayson's Port and the Douro (2004) pages 275 and 276 I now think I nead to read Mayson's "The Story of Dow's Port" to get the full answer.
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Re: Vintagewise: some comments and questions

Post by jdaw1 » 03:27 Wed 10 Sep 2008

DRT wrote:In addition, I have found two references to vintages that were "declared by all shippers". These are 1878 and 1912. What should I assume from this?
Many non-pedants use “all† to mean “most† (and “most† to mean “some†, and “some† to mean “probably more than none†, and “none† to mean “I can’t think of any right now†). So I would treat this as a partial confirmation of any other sources you have, but not more than that.

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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by John Danza » 09:31 Sun 28 Sep 2008

Thank you very much Julian for bringing attention to this book, one of my favorite by Andre Simon. My collection of wine books specializes in those by Andre, along with some others by his friends that were involved with him in the founding of both The Saintsbury Club and The Wine & Food Society. Vintagewise is probably my favorite work by ALS. For those who may not have seen the original cover, I've included a scan of the dustjacket from my copy, which is a first edition first printing, along with the inscription it contains. For those who might be interested some esoterica of the book, it was published on 22 October 1945, as noted in a letter I have (see scan below) that was written by Andre on 27 September 1945.

Much of what Andre writes about Port in Vintagewse he had originally published in the little book Port, published in 1934 by Constable & Co, as part of the Constable's Wine Library. This "Library" was a series of 7 wine books, two of which Andre wrote and the others he edited. Port is a fascinating little read containing some excellent history of the wine trade in Portugal, but that's for another thread. You should be able to find the book on the Advanced Book Exchange website. I will give you one passage from it however, as it's about port glasses, which I agree with 100 %.
The Port Glass should be sensible in size, and white. Small glasses are an abomination, an offence to guest and wine alike. It robs the wine of its fair chance of showing its worth; it robs the guest of his or her fair share of the last wine of the evening, and of his or her chance of appreciating its charm. There is no sense, no excuse, for serving Port in glasses smaller than glasses in which the Claret is or should be served. The glasses need not be filled, but they should be large enough for a fair amount of wine, and for your guest's or your own nose to look in and inhale the wine's bouquet.
Lastly, on the comments about the term "black strap". While I can't find the referenece where I saw this, the term was meant to define a wine so highly extracted as to be almost black in color and opaque, like black strap molasses.

All the best,
John


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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by DRT » 01:49 Tue 30 Sep 2008

John,

Thanks for posting such splendid information and pictures. I am sure Julian will be delighted to see these when he returns from the Douro.

Derek
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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by DRT » 22:33 Wed 25 Feb 2009

DRT wrote:
jdaw1 wrote:
jdaw1 wrote:What is a "black-strap" wine? Is, for example, Fonseca 1985 a "black-strap" wine?
Simon uses the term in three places (with my comments in grey).
  • ”Now ‟65, like ‟53, has no general repute as a vintage, some people think the Rebello Valente ‟coarse”. I can only say that this, for a ‟black-strap” wine, was excellent, and I confess that I do not despise ‟black-strap.” ‟
    [Substitute ‟ruby” for ‟black-strap” throughout that sentence, and it makes perfect sense. The use of the term in that sentence sounds pejorative.]
  • The first two Vintage Ports of the century, 1900 and 1904, were, and still are, good wines, but very different from the old type of Vintage Port of the ‟black-strap” school.
  • The days of the ‟black-strap” Ports are gone and gone for ever.
    [These suggest a style of VP that is not altered by age, the passing of which is regretted by ALS. If one were to substitute in ‟young” this would make no sense.]
So Tom”s ‟solid well extracted young port; dark and tannic, but not necessarily vintage” doesn”t quite fit.
Webster”s online dictionary wrote:Black Strap Bad port wine. A sailor's name for any bad liquor. In North America, "Black-strap" is a mixture of rum and molasses, sometimes vinegar is added.
"The seething blackstrap was pronounced ready for use."- Pinkerton: Molly Magaires, chap. xvii. p. 174.
Also doesn”t quite fit.
uncle tom wrote:
So Tom”s ‟solid well extracted young port; dark and tannic, but not necessarily vintage” doesn”t quite fit.
Not sure I agree..

While I stand to be corrected, my understanding has been that the term 'black-strap' had its origins in 19c military mess-rooms to denote a port suitable for everyday quaffing by the officer class.

The concept of 'declared' and 'undeclared' years, and also the designation of 'vintage' as being superior to all others, seems to have evolved post-phylloxera; thus the term 'black-strap' may have carried more weight in an otherwise confused field.

I think Andre Simon may be expressing nostalgia for the pre-phylloxera period here.

Tom

PS - I have it my mind that the re-birth of Q. Roriz as a wine in it's own name was hailed as a return to 'black-strap'; but who?, when? I can't recall..
I think one of JDAWs initial quotes above lost some context in being cut short:

"The first two Vintage Ports of the century, 1900 and 1904, were, and still are, good wines, but very different from the old type of Vintage Port of the ‟black-strap‟ school. They both had their charm and good manners, but not the same stamina as their elders."

I think the last statement in this quote suggests that black-strap wines were made for the long-haul. Stamina is not a term I think anyone would use to describe Ruby. However, it may describe a brutally tannic style of port that was intended to last decades when shipped to far away places. I wonder how many Aussie prison wardens washed down their Roo steak dinner with a nice black-strap Roriz 1851?
I just found this reference on page 12 of Mayson's Port and the Douro:
Most of the ports shipped to England in the early years of the eighteenth century were dark, austere reds fermented to dryness, which earned the name "black-strap".
Note: JDAW's original unicode characters that were messed up by the last database upgrade have been replaced with simple quotation marks in the above quotes to aid reading.
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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by DRT » 00:01 Fri 22 Oct 2010

I just found the earliest reference I have seen to "black strap":
An essay on wines, especially on port wine: intended to intruct every person to distinguish that which is pure, and to guard against the frauds of adulteration by John Wright, published in 1795 wrote:In Britain I have known it often, that the milksop or the flincher was not allowed to make his escape from the roaring scenes of hilarity, the door hath been locked, and by dire necessity, he has been compelled to swill libations of black strap (horrible bad Port) till it soon operated like the waters of Lethe.
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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by John Danza » 01:18 Fri 22 Oct 2010

Wow, nice job Derek! You really pulled this out of the archives.
John Danza

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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by JacobH » 21:40 Thu 28 Oct 2010

DRT wrote:I just found the earliest reference I have seen to "black strap":
A little time with Google Books turns up a few earlier ones, the oldest from 1787:
An [url=http://books.google.com/books?id=ZrDkAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA405#v=onepage&q&f=false]anonymous article[/url] in the British Merchant for 1787 wrote:In considering the probable injury to the Portugal wine trade, he expresses his apprehensions of the introduction of a cheap, strong wine from Languedoc, ‘which partaking of the properties both of claret and port, is perhaps more wholesome than either.’ But the trade in Portugal wine is not only to be supported, rather than we should be supplied with a more wholesome liquor; but the duties on foreign wines are to be kept high, lest a reduction should check our own manufactory of liquors which are sold for wines! ‘But I know not why our home brewery of port, claret, and white wines, mould be injured. It would require stronger reasons than I have yet heard, to convince me, that cyder, elder berries, and sloe sluice, or cyder, black strap, and Alicante wines, for port and claret; and for white wines, dried grapes fermented with water, or our own perries, are more unwholesome than the genuine juice of the fresh grape, which, as well us others, has always an addition of a little brandy. The substitution of these compositions is indeed a fraud on the purchaser; but it is an innocent fraud, that keeps in this kingdom annually, at least between one and two hundred thousand pounds.’

If our Author wilfully, and to his certain knowledge, ever drinks a glass of genuine wine, or keeps a bottle of such wine in his house; his patriotism is not worth a bottle of the sophistications he wishes to impose on his countrymen; and to the worst compositions of which he ought to be condemned all the days of his life.
It may be worth consulting the proprietary databases on the next British Library visit for more...
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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by AHB » 07:42 Fri 29 Oct 2010

What jumped out of that very interesting article from the British Merchant was the reference to "...addition of a little brandy." And this in 1787.
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Re: Vintagewise: Corrections and Comments

Post by DRT » 07:53 Fri 29 Oct 2010

AHB wrote:What jumped out of that very interesting article from the British Merchant was the reference to "...addition of a little brandy." And this in 1787.
Having now read a number of books from that era I am convinced that almost all wines were fortified to some degree at the time of shipping. Interestingly, the addition of brandy to halt fermentation was considered an abominable adulteration.
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