The 440 page book , A History and Description of Modern Wine, published
in the mid 1800's is now available as a free download from Google
books. The book discusses most of the wines made in Europe at the time
as well as some from Africa and other regions. The URL is:
Interesting indeed (though I found some of his "of the 1st class" type
comments confusing). Didn't seem the Burgundy heirarchy has changed
that much (though he puts Chambolle-Musigny as CdB- is that historic,
or a mistake?).
Indeed thanks for this and the other links.
Glancing through the section on Hermitage, I found this interesting
"The shiraz, or scyras vine, was afterwards introduced. It succeeded
to admiration. ... and the sterile hillside was soon converted into
I've never before heard "scyras" for syrah, and this is perhaps some
indication that "shiraz" enjoys a much longer association with the
English language than I had given it credit for. Can anyone come up
with an older reference of "shiraz" for "syrah?"
The Redding book I noted was the 1851 edition. However there is an
early 1833 edition of the book at
Scyras also is mentioned there with a claim that a monk may have
brought it from Persia.
You find few wine books in English much earlier than this, but many
books that mention wine in passing.
I will pass along a massive French cookbook from 1827 that has 760
pages. I have not had time to examine it in detail, but there is likely
some discussion of wine in it.
The Art of French Cookery 1827, 760 pp
Thanks cwd. Actually I found the quote about the Shiraz origin in the Redding
some pages later. I guess we will have to admit that the designation of Shiraz
has some historical precedent and legitimacy after all. :)
The cookbook is very interesting and I look forward to spending a bit more time
On the subject of wine it doesn't have a tremendous amount to say, but there is
a very interesting list of "top Bordeaux" which doesn't as far as I can tell
the 1855 classification at all! (This said I only glanced at it quickly).
Thanks again for the links and cheers,
The latest research about what Syrah/Shiraz actually is likely is given
in the quote below that I found on the web.
Although cultivated since antiquity, competing claims to the origin of
this variety gave credit to it either being transplanted from Persia,
near the similarly-titled city of Shiraz or to being a native plant of
France. Starting in 1998, combined research of the University of
California at Davis and the French National Agronomy Archives in
Montpellier proved syrah is indeed indigenous to France. DNA profiling
proved syrah to be a genetic cross of two relatively obscure varieties,
mondeuse blanc and dureza.
I do not know enough about plant genetic research to comment on how
accurate this evaluation may be, but the two organizations that did the
research have a good reputation. I wonder if mondeuse blanc or dureza
are grown at all any more in France, and , if so, do they produce any
wine of good repute.
On 4 Sep 2006 00:56:24 -0700
I don't personally know these cepages, but they are probably grown under
some other local etiquette. However I do see that mondeuse blanc is
authorized in Vin de Savoie , and that dureza also comes from
Although another source lists "dureza" as coming from the Ardeche [!] and
being practically extinct. Also has Mondeuse Blanche [sic] so apparently
this is so shrouded in the mists of time that we're no longer sure what the
gender is; although feminine is of course the more logical.