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Who can entertain a doubt that some kinds of wine are more agreeable to the palate than others, or that even out of the very same vat1 there are occasionally produced wines that are by no means of equal goodness, the one being much superior to the other, whether it is that it is owing to the cask,2 or to some other fortuitous circumstance? Let each person, therefore, constitute himself his own judge as to which kind it is that occupies the pre-eminence. Livia3 Augusta, who lived to her eighty-second year,4 attributed her longevity to the wine of Pucinum,5 as she never drank any other. This wine is grown near a bay of the Adriatic, not far from Mount Timavus, upon a piece of elevated rocky ground, where the sea-breeze ripens a few grapes, the produce of which supplies a few amphoræ: there is not a wine that is deemed superior to this for medicinal purposes. I am strongly of opinion that this is the same wine, the produce of the Adriatic Gulf, upon which the Greeks have bestowed such wonderful encomiums, under the name of Prætetianum.

The late Emperor Augustus preferred the Setinum to all others, and nearly all the emperors that have succeeded him have followed his example, having learnt from actual experience that there is no danger of indigestion and flatulence resulting from the use of this liquor: this wine is grown in the country6 that lies just above Forum Appii.7 In former times the Cæcubum enjoyed the reputation of being the most generous of all the wines; it was grown in some marshy swamps, planted with poplars, in the vicinity8 of the Gulf of Amyclæ. This vineyard has, however, now disappeared, the result of the carelessness of the cultivator, combined with its own limited extent, and the works on the canal which Nero commenced, in order to provide a navigation from Lake Avernus to Ostia.

The second rank belonged to the wine of the Falernian territory, of which the Faustianum was the most choice variety; the result of the care and skill employed upon its cultivation. This, however, has also degenerated very considerably, in consequence of the growers being more solicitous about quantity9 than quality. The Falernian10 vineyards begin at the bridge of Campania, on the left-hand as you journey towards the Urbana Colonia of Sylla, which was lately a township of the city of Capua. As to the Faustian vineyards, they extend about four miles from a village near Cædicix,11 the same village being six miles from Sinuessa. There is now no wine known that ranks higher than the Falernian; it is the only one, too, among all the wines that takes fire on the application of flame.12 There are three varieties of it—the rough, the sweet, and the thin. Some persons make the following distinctions: the Caucinum, they say, grows on the summit of this range of hills, the Faustianum on the middle slopes, and the Falernum at the foot: the fact, too, should not be omitted, that none of the grapes that produce these more famous wines have by any means an agreeable flavour.

To the third13 rank belonged the various wines of Alba, in the vicinity of the City, remarkable for their sweetness, and some- times, though rarely, rough14 as well: the Surrentine15 wines, also, the growth of only stayed vines, which are especially recommended to invalids for their thinness and their wholesomeness. Tiberius Cæsar used to say that the physicians had conspired thus to dignify the Surrentinum, which was, in fact, only another name for generous vinegar; while Caius Cæsar, who succeeded him, gave it the name of "noble vappa."16 Vying in reputation with these are the Massic wines, from the spots which look from Mount Gaurus towards Puteoli and Baiæ.17 As to the wines of Stata, in the vicinity of Falernum, there is no doubt that they formerly held the very highest rank, a fact which proves very clearly that every district has its own peculiar epochs, just as all other things have their rise and their decadence. The Calenian18 wines, too, from the same neighbourhood, used to be preferred to those last mentioned, as also the Fundanian,19 the produce of vines grown on stays, or else attached to shrubs. The wines, too, of Veliternum20 and Priverna,21 which were grown in the vicinity of the City, used to be highly esteemed. As to that produced at Signia,22 it is by far too rough to be used as a wine, but is very useful as an astringent, and is consequently reckoned among the medicines for that purpose.

The fourth rank, at the public banquets, was given by the late Emperor Julius-he was the first, in fact, that brought them into favour, as we find stated in his Letters23—to the Mamertine wines, the produce of the country in the vicinity of Messana,24 in Sicily. The finest of these was the Potulanum,25 so called from its original cultivator, and grown on the spots that lie nearest to the mainland of Italy. The Tauromenitanum also, a wine of Sicily, enjoys a high repute, and fiaggons26 of it are occasionally passed off for Mamertinum.

Among the other wines, we find mentioned upon the Upper Sea those of Prætutia and Ancona, as also those known as the "Palmensia,"27 not improbably because the cluster springs from a single shoot.28 In the interior we find the wines of Cæsena29 and that known as the Mæcenatian,30 while in the territory of Verona there are the Rhætian wines, only inferior, in the estimation of Virgil, to the Falernian.31 Then, too, at the bottom of the Gulf32 we find the wines of Adria.33 On the shores of the Lower Sea there are the Latiniensian34 wines, the Graviscan,35 and the Statonian:36 in Etruria, the wines of Luna bear away the palm, and those of Genua37 in Liguria. Massilia, which lies between the Pyrenees and the Alps, produces two varieties of wine, one of which is richer and thicker than the other, and is used for seasoning other wines, being generally known as "succosum."38 The repu- tation of the wine of Beterræ39 does not extend beyond the Gallic territories;40 and as for the others that are produced in Gallia Narbonensis, nothing can be positively stated, for the growers of that country have absolutely established manufactories for the purposes of adulteration, where they give a dark hue to their wines by the agency of smoke; I only wish I could say, too, that they do not employ various herbs and noxious drugs for the same purpose;41 indeed, these dealers are even known to use aloes for the purpose of heightening the flavour and improving the colour of their wines.

The regions of Italy that are at a greater distance from the Ausonian Sea, are not without their wines of note, such as those of Tarentum,42 Servitia,43 and Consentia,44 and those, again, of Tempsa, Babia, and Lucania, among which the wines of Thurii hold the pre-eminence. But the most celebrated of all of them, owing to the fact that Messala45 used to drink it, and was indebted to it for his excellent health, was the wine of Lagara,46 which was grown not far from Grumentum.47 In Campania, more recently, new growths under new names have gained considerable credit, either owing to careful cultivation, or else to some other fortuitous circumstances: thus, for instance, we find four miles from Neapolis the Trebellian,48 near Capua the Cauline,49 wine, and the wine of Trebula50 grown in the territory so called, though but of a common sort: Campania boasts of all these, as well as of her Trifoline51 wines. As to the wines of Pompeii,52 they have arrived at their full perfection in ten years, after which they gain nothing by age: they are found also to be productive of headache, which often lasts so long as the sixth hour53 of the next day.

These illustrations, if I am not greatly mistaken, will go far to prove that it is the land and the soil that is of primary importance, and not the grape, and that it is quite superfluous to attempt to enumerate all the varieties of every kind, seeing that the same vine, transplanted to several places, is productive of features and characteristics of quite opposite natures. The vineyards of Laletanum54 in Spain55 are remarkable for the abundance of wine they produce, while those of Tarraco56 and of Lauron57 are esteemed for the choice qualities of their wines: those, too, of the Balearic Isles58 are often put in comparison with the very choicest growths of Italy.

I am by no means unaware that most of my readers will be of opinion that I have omitted a vast number of wines, seeing that every one has his own peculiar choice; so much so, that wherever we go, we hear the same story told, to the effect that one of the freedmen of the late Emperor Augustus, who was remarkable for his judgment and his refined taste in wines, while employed in tasting for his master's table, made this observation to the master of the house where the emperor was staying, in reference to some wine the growth of that particular country: "The taste of this wine," said he, "is new to me, and it is by no means of first-rate quality; the emperor, however, you will see, will drink of no other."59 Indeed I have no wish to deny that there may be other wines deserving of a very high reputation, but those which I have already enumerated are the varieties upon the excellence of which the world is at present agreed.

1 Lacus.

2 The testa or amphora, made of earth.

3 As the wife of Augustus is meant, this reading appears preferable to "Julia."

4 Dion Cassius says "eighty-sixth."

5 See B. iii. c. 22, and B. xvii. c. 3. Pucinum was in Istria, and the district is said still to produce good wine; according to Dalechamps, the place is called Pizzino d'Istria.

6 The hills of Setia, looking down on the Pomptine Marshes: now Sezza, the wine of which is of no repute.

7 See B. iii. c. 9.

8 See B. iii. c. 9. Between Fundi and Setia; a locality now of no repute for its wines. In B. xxiii. c. 19, Pliny says, that the Cæcuban vine was extinct: but in B. xvii. c. 3, he says that in the Pomptine Marshes it was to be found.

9 This was the case, it has been remarked, with Madeira some years ago.

10 This is the most celebrated of all the ancient wines, as being more especially the theme of the poets.

11 See B. xi. c. 97. The wines of the Falernian district are no longer held in any esteem; indeed, all the Campanian wines are sour, and of a disagreeable flavour.

12 It appears to have been exceedingly rich in alcohol.

13 But in B. xxiii. c. 20, he assigns the first rank to the Albanum; possibly, however, as a medicinal wine. The wines of Latium are no longer held in esteem.

14 See B. xxiii. c. 21.

15 From Surrentum, the promontory forming the southern horn of the Bay of Naples. Ovid and Martial speak in praise of these wines; they were destitute of richness and very dry, in consequence of which they required twenty-five years to ripen.

16 Or "dead vinegar." "Vappa" was vinegar exposed to the air, and so destitute of its properties, and quite insipid.

17 Excellent wines are still produced in the vicinity of this place. Massicum was one of the perfumed wines. Gaurus itself produced the "Gauranum," in small quantity, but of high quality, full-bodied and thick.

18 For the Calenian Hills, see B. iii. c. 9; see also B. xxiii. c. 12, for some further account of the wines of Stata. The wines of that district are now held in no esteem.

19 From Fundi. See B. iii. c. 9.

20 Now Castel del Volturno: although covered with vineyards, its wines are of no account. This wine always tasted as if mixed with some foreign substance.

21 Now Piperno. It was a thin and pleasant wine.

22 Now Segni, in the States of the Church.

23 Written to the Senate, also to Cicero. We learn from Suetonius that they were partly written in cipher.

24 Messina, at the present day, exports wines of very good quality, and which attain a great age.

25 It was sound, light, and not without body.

26 "Lagenæ." The same spot, now Taormina in Sicily, between Catania and Messina, still produces excellent wines.

27 See B. iii. c. 18. Fée says that this is thought to have been the wine of Syrol, of last century, grown near Ancona.

28 "Palma." Notwithstanding this suggestion, it is more generally supposed that they had their name from the place called Palma, near Marano, on the Adriatic. Its wines are still considered of agreeable flavour.

29 The wines of modern Cezena enjoy no repute, owing, probably, to the mode of making them.

30 Probably so called because it was brought into fashion by Mæcenas.

31 See Georg. ii. 95. The wines of the Tyrol, the ancient Rhætia, are still considered as of excellent quality.

32 Of Adria, or the Adriatic Sea.

33 See B. iii. c. 20. These wines are of little repute.

34 In Latium. See B. iii. c. 9.

35 From Graviscæ. See B. iii. c. 8.

36 See B. ii. c. 96, B. iii. c. 9, and B. xxxvi. c. 49.

37 The wines of Genoa are of middling quality only, and but little known.

38 Or "juicy" wine.

39 Now Beziers, in the south of France. The wines of this part are considered excellent at the present day. That of Frontignan grows in its vicinity. Fée is inclined to think, from Pliny's remarks here, that the ancients and the moderns differed entirely in their notions as to what constitutes good or bad wine.

40 He means, beyond modern Provence, and Languedoc: districts famous for their excellent wines, more particularly the latter.

41 Fée deems all this quite incredible. Our English experience, however, tells us that it is by no means so; much of the wine that is drunk in this country is indebted for flavour as well as colour to anything but the grape.

42 The wines of modern Otranto are ordinarily of good quality.

43 Baccius reads "Seberiniana," but is probably wrong. If he is not, it might allude to the place now known as San Severino, and which produces excellent wine. Fée thinks that these wines were grown in the territory of Salerno, which still enjoys celebrity for its muscatel wines.

44 See B. iii. c. 10. The wines of modern Cosenza still enjoy a high reputation.

45 M. Valerius Messala Corvinus, the writer and partisan of Augustus. See end of B. ix.

46 A place supposed to have been situated near Thurii.

47 See B. iii. c. 15.

48 Said by Galen to be very wholesome, as well as pleasant. The wines of the vicinity of Naples are still held in high esteem.

49 Galen says that it was very similar to the Falernian.

50 See B. iii. c. 9.

51 The Trifoline territory was in the vicinity of Cumæ. It is possible that the wine may have had its name from taking three years to come to maturity; or possibly it was owing to some peculiarity in the vine.

52 They have been already mentioned in c. 4. See B. iii. c. 9.

53 Twelve o'clock in the day.

54 See B. iii. c. 4.

55 In Catalonia, which still produces abundance of wine, but in general of inferior repute.

56 The wines of Tarragona are still considered good.

57 A place in the province of Hispania Tarraconensis, destroyed by Sertorius.

58 They still enjoy a high repute. The fame of their Malvoisie has extended all over the world.

59 He means to illustrate the capricious tastes that existed as to the merits of wines.

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