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Consular reports, Issues 196-199 online

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haustion of the soil is slower and the vine can be cultivated on land inca-
pable of yielding any other crop.

All sherries in a natural state are quite dry — that is, the fermentation has
removed all trace of sugar — and in this dry state the wines are allowed to
mature in the growers' cellars; but the actual demand, out of Spain, lor
absolutely dry wine is limited. Public taste demands a slight admixture of
Pedro Ximenes, or sweet wine; this addition of sweet wine varies from i to
10 per cent.

The vineyards during the winter months present a dreary appearance of
long rows of twisted, gnarled stumps; but what a contrast in the spring and
summer — everything becomes a mass of green. All through the winter and
early spring the vineyard is carefully attended to, the earth round each vine
kept thoroughly moved and soft. These vines grow out laterally and not
upwards, hence they soon interlace with one another and hide the ground.

The vintage takes i)lace in September. The grapes are put into * *lagares *'
(wine presses), of which there is one in each vineyard, and pressed. These
lagares are a species of wide trough, rather larger than a billiard table, but
with high sides, and the juice runs out at the corner or corners into casks
placed beneath. The fermentation, usually of a tumultuous nature, com-
mences immediately, and in this state the wines are brought from the vine-
yards to the cooler bodegas of Jeres, where the fermentation is allowed
complete freedom. By the beginning of March, this is finished and the
process of racking from the lees takes place. The contents of each cask is
kept distinct and separate, and each is left to develop its own characteristics.
One of the most curious phenomena in cenology succeeds. Although the
tmiform produce of each vineyard is stored together, as time goes on there
will be many varieties in what should be uniform quality, the conditions
being precisely the same. There will be casks of first, second, third, and
fourth merit, or even vinegar, so subtle and eccentric is the influence of fer-
mentation in sherry. Chemists have devised systems to make a uniform
quality of wine of a given crop of grapes, but in all cases they have failed,
and the old plan of leaving the wine to itself is everywhere observed. The
inequality of development is a matter of chance, of caprice in fermentation,

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but from the natural separation of varieties starts the diversified group of
sherries, known as finos, olorosos, amontillados, bastos, and rayas, and, ac-
cording to their quality, each wine is given its valuation.

What is now basto started from the vineyard with the same chance as that
which is now amontillado, but it has gone wrong in the race and is worth very
little, while amontillado and oloroso are worth four times as much. Raya
is only fair quality, and the vinegar is a total failure. This will explain the
difference of prices even in an albariza vintage. Only a certain quantity
even of the best crop reaches perfection.

As a rule, the course initiated by the young wine is continued to the end,
the superior qualities developing according to early promise, inferior ones
seldom improving their class with age.

When the vintages have remained sufficiently long for the qualities to be
set and determined, which time may vary from five to ten years, the merchant
masses together in different lots all the casks of each quality — that is, all the
amontillado casks are blended together, all those casks containing oloroso,
all those with basto, and so on. These lots, in their turn, are taken to the
almacenista's bodega, or cellar, and blended with wines of similar quality, but
older. These masses or large quantities of homogeneous wine are called
soleras. The soleras existing in a shipping bodega may be called the pillars
oil which the reputation of the firm rests, as the uniformity of the shipper's
exports can only be maintained by keeping up the soleras at a proper standard
of age and excellence. The system observed in the shipment of sherry varies
from that of all other wine. Here, there is never a selling out of any par-
ticular solera; only a small quantity proportionately is drawn for sale from
a solera. The quantity thus drawn off is replaced by a wine of almost equal
age and quality, so that the newly added wine merges with the larger bulk
and the solera quickly recovers what it might have lost by the extraction of
the old and^the addition of a slightly younger wine.

A specialty made in Jeres is the Pedro Ximenez, a sweet wine from
the grape of that name. It usually comes from the albariza vineyards. The
grapes of this wine are dried in the sun, and when reduced nearly to the con-
dition of raisins, are pressed and give a very sweet, dark wine ; this, of course,
is very expensive, as the grapes lose such a large percentage of their liquid.
Thus, the quantity of P. X. grapes required to fill a butt would be six limes
as much as the quantity required of an ordinary grape.

Between the soleras of the exporter and the marks known to his customers
there is the consequent connection. If the soleras are kept at the same
standard of value, the wines taken by his client are, year after year, the
same, the consumer relying on and expecting always his sherry to be the same,
whereas, as with claret and other wines, he is content to accejTt varying
quality and character according to the year.

With the exception of a limited export of wines shipped in a vintage
form, good sherries are all matured in soleras. Many of these latter are
of considerable age, a founding of fifty and one hundred years not being

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It is in the collection of soleras that the merits of a shipping firm are
more clearly discerned, and it is a matter of considerable interest to a keen
observer to pass from one solera to another and see with what care the quality
and type of each is preserved from year to year. It is here the i)ersonal di-
rection of the master is given, his individual taste impressed, in many cases
some of the soleras having **criaderas," or, so to speak, nurseries.

This is particularly the case in fine sherries, in which a solera will have
two or three criaderas, each more stylish and elegant than the last, until at
length, almost imperceptibly, the standard of the solera is reached. The
solera will be refreshed from criadera No. i. No. i from No. 2, and so on.
It must also be remembered that every butt of wine loses from 5 to 10 per
cent a year in evaporation ; thus a vintage of twenty years' age will have lost
some 60 per cent of ils contents, though as the wine gets older it gets more
concentrated and loses less.

The stores, or bodegas, are in reality not cellars at all, but above-ground
warehouses, large and cool stone buildings open to the inspection of visitors,
and where a lesson in tasting is always available. To me it appears that
nowhere does the wine drunk by Shakespeare and Cervantes taste better than
in its native home. Whether it is that all fear of consequences is removed
by the sight of the workmen engaged in them, who partake to the extent of
an average of two bottles each day and are proverbially healthy, being free
from gout and rheumatism, or that the climatic conditions favor the con-
sumption of the wine of the country as is frequently the case, I know not.
At all events, it is the wine consumed by high and low, and visitors are
not long in falling into the popular taste. From personal experience, I must
confess that any i)rejudice I had acquired from numerous interested writings
against the wine have been removed, as I find good sherry is a sound,
health-giving wine. Since my residence in Cadiz, I have been asked many
times by American visitors whether genuine sherry was anywhere to be ob-
tained ; my invariable answer has l)een, most assuredly, by paying a fair
price for it.

Sherries in large quantities are shipped to the United States, from the
medium class to the highest qualities of indisputable origin and genuine
growth. As it has been my duty to examine closely this important branch
of business in my consular district, I have taken an interest in every stage of
the industry, from the insect trouble, now affecting the vine, to the study
and analysis of the wines in the export casks.

Although I am dealing with a subject of minor interest to the mass of
my countrymen (the entire consumption of European wine representing
only a fourth of a bottle per individual i>er annum), these facts may be
of value to a section of our people — the wine growers, connoisseurs, and

There always exists a difficulty for the public in discriminating between
the real thing and its imitation. The statement of the great writer on Spain,
Richard Ford, still holds good: ** Sherry is not less popular amongst us
than Murillo, in spite of the numerous bad copies of the one, which are

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passed off for undoubted originals, and butts of the other, which are sold
neat as imported."

It behooves all buyers of sherry to obtain their supply from wine dealers
of reputation, many of whom are receiving the genuine sherry wines from
here. Excellence in all things is achieved only by trouble and expense.


C\Diz, July 21, i8g6. Consul,


The Spanish Government held the monopoly of salt until 1869, when its
manufacture and sale were declared to be free. In the early part of this
year, the Government planned to resume its former monopoly, but finally
decided to increase in its estimates the consumer's tax on salt from 25 cen-
timos* (4 cents) to 50 centimos (8 cents) per inhabitant, and to authorize
the various local governments of towns and villages to exercise the exclusive
right to sell, or grant the privilege of selling, salt, in order that the full
amount of the estimate might be secured for the Government. The former
tax of 9 centimos (i)^ cents) per kilogram (2^ pounds) of salt has, there-
fore, been increased to 18 centimos (3 cents) per kilogram, except for salt
to be used in industries and agriculture, which can be taxed only 12 centimos
l)er 100 kilograms if black salt and only 25 centimos per 100 kilograms if

Spain is rich in salt, having many salt mines, fountains, and lakes. The
mines of Cardona are particularly famous, owing to the fact that they pene-
trate an enormous rock of salt, without crevices or covering, and brilliant
with many beautiful colors. Neither heat, frost, nor rains have visibly dimin-
ished its colossal proportions, nor do its immense and marvelous caverns afford
one an adequate conception of its profundity. Next in importance are the salt
mines of Minglanilla, Afiaran, Poza, Valtierra, Pancorbo, Manuel, Villena,
Vilalgordo, Monovar, Villarrubia, Onda, Sarrion, El Pinoso, La Rosa, Sari-
ego, Villaviciosa, and Infiesto. Then there are plants for obtaining salt
from water by means of evaporation. These include Antequera, Cabizon, in
Santander; Arros and Ojos Negros, inAragon; Cienpozuelos, in the province
of Madrid; and San Pedro del Pinatar, in the province of Murcia.

The number and production of the Spanish mines are the following :



Almeria ......






Yearly pro-




33.000 1


8,000 J


2,000 ,


9,000 1


14,000 1




Lerida ,






Yearly pro-











*ioo centimos^i pc!.eta=i6% cents.

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Moreover, there are i6i unproductive salt mines, making a total of 216
in all Spain, covering 2,789 hectares 81 areas.

In Salumera, there are 36 salt factories, which, produced, in 1894, 12,987
tons of salt, valued at $800,000. As comparisons are interesting, I may add
that England produces two and a half times as much salt as Spain, and Rus-
sia one and a half times, and that Spain produces one-third more than


Barcelona, October io, i8g6. Consul- General.


But little attention is paid in Spain to the cultivation and care of forests,
although they are sorely needed in almost every province, not only to supply
the requirements of commerce and trade, but also to adorn the landscaj^e,
to invigorate the soil, and to preserve the crops from the devastations of
droughts and floods. As a rule, such forests as do exist in Spain are remote
from the littoral towns and cities, and they are therefore of comparatively
small value, except as fuel for local purposes, inasmuch as the railway facili-
ties for transportation are small and the freights are high. Rich as Spain is
in nature's gifts, she will always remain undeveloped so long as she fails to
bring the productive regions of her soil into rapid and cheap communica-
tion with her cities and towns and with the rest of the world. A country in
which the trains run only 15 or 20 miles an hour can never compete with a
country in which they run 30 or 40 miles an hour; nor can a country in
which the freight rates are practically prohibitive compete in her own littoral
markets with countries that can ship to them produce and goods at easy and
advantageous rates. The distance from Barcelona to the French frontier is
103 miles. To cover that distance, it takes the express train nearly six hours;
that is to say, the train goes at the rate of about 17 miles an hour, and Bar-
celona, be it remembered, is the largest port of Spain. Furthermore, it
costs more to bring goods from Saragossa (about 200 miles from Barcelona)
than by ship from England. If ever Spain realizes the importance of rapid
transit, there is absolutely no reason why she should not take a good position
among the wealthy and prosperous nations of the world. The wealth she
has always derived from her colonies has made her indifferent to the wealth
that work and intelligence could secure from her own soil, and she will
doubtless remain indifferent until she is forced by necessity to become intro-
spective and develop her peninsular resources. She will then be able to cut
down her importations very materially, especially those of minerals, cereals,
and wood. Her importations of wood amount now to about ^7,000,000
annually. Of that sum, |2, 500,000 are paid for staves, most of which come
from the United States. The remaining ^4,500,000 are employed in the
purchase of pine from Finland, Sweden, and the United States; fir from
Canada, beech from Hungary, elm from Austria, mahogany from Mexico,

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walnut from Italy, and from the storehouses in Havre, Bordeaux, and Mar-
seilles considerable qnantities of cedar, ebony, and sandal wood.

That a great variety of trees can be easily grown in Spain may be inferred
from the fact that the following species are to be found here and are appar-
ently thriving :

The jmlmetto (el palmito), found in Andalusia, Murcia, Valencia, and

The spruce fir tree (pinabete), a tree very common in France and Ger-
many and very useful in building, is found in Spain in only Aragon and

The pine (pino) is of six kinds in Spain — el pino piilonero, used in naval
construction and in carpenter work, and quite abundant in Andalusia and
Castile; el pino silvestre, which grows to a' height of 90 feet and is seen in
the north and west of Spain; el pino negro, a wood easily polished, growing
in the north of Aragon and Catalonia ; el pino negral de Cuenca, which
grows in nearly all the mountainous regions of Spain ; el pino carrasco,
which is not so tall as the other kinds, and which makes good boards, being
found principally in Murcia and Valencia, and also in Catalonia and Aragon;
and el pino negral de Segovia, a dark pine, very common throughout the
peninsula, but not very strong nor elastic.

The elm tree is of two kinds — Ulmus campestris and Ulmus mon-
tana — and is seen in many parts of Spain in valleys and near rivers and in
the promenades of some cities. The wood is hard and elastic and is used
in making carts and machinery.

The white poplar (alamo bianco), a very common tree in all parts of
Spain and much used by carpenters.

The yew tree (el tejo), hard and compact, and found in Sierra Nevada,
in the Pyrenees, and in Asturias. It is used by ebonists and turners.

The black poplar tree (chopo), light in weight and serviceable as poles
and handles and in the manufacture of paper. This is one of the few trees
that are cultivated in Spain.

The beech tree (haya), which grows to a height of 120 feet and forms
large forests in the mountains of Navarre, Asturias, Logrofid, Leon, and San-
tander, and grows in Burgos, Saragossa, Lerida, and Vizcaya.

The chestnut (el castafio) is useful in making staves, boards, doors, and
windows. It is seen chiefly in Galicia, Asturias, Santander, Vazcongadas,
and Catalonia.

The oak (el robla) grows in every province of Spain, and is a favorite
for naval work, machinery, furniture, carts, casks, and barrels.

The cork tree (el alcornoque) is a great source of wealth to Spain, and
forms large forests in Gerona, and is abundant in Cordova, Algeciras, Tarifa,
Malaga, and Estremadura. As the forests of Gerona are near the coast, im-
mense quantities are easily exported from there. During the year 1895 ^^^
exportations to the United States alone amounted to $305,884.90 from Ge-
rona and to J 208,0 1 5 from the other cork districts of Spain. Some of the

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forests are natural and some are cultivated ; all thrive equally, and are prob-
ably the finest in the world of their kind.

The evergreen oak (encina) is also a very common tree in nearly all the
provinces of Spain. Its wood is hard, compact, and strong, and is used in
small piecework.

The birch tree (abadul), although ordinarily found in cold climates,
grows well in the Pyrenees and is seen as far south as Madrid. The wood is
used for domestic utensils, and its branches make good hooi)s for casks and
barrels, as does also the wood of the hazelnut tree (avellano), which flourishes
on the eastern coast of Spain.

Wood that can be easily polished is also found in the various ])rovinces
of Spain, such, for instance, as the walnut (nogal), juniper (enebro), white
mulberry (la morera), wild olive (acebuche), and the pear tree (peral), the
apple tree (manzana), the orange tree (naranjo), the almond tree (almendro),
and the lemon tree (limonero).

As yet no great eff*orts have been made to lest the eucalyptus tree in Spain ;
but there are some fine specimens of the globulus species in Catalonia, and
also, I hear, in Malaga.

France is the only continental nation that seems to attach sufficient im-
portance to the advantages to be derivtd from the cultivation of trees, and
her experiments with the eucalyptus have already attracted some attention
here, and seem destined to encourage the Spanish people to take a livelier
interest in enriching and beautifying the vast tracts of their territory that are
as bare of foliage as are **the lone and level sands."


Barcelona, November i^, i8g6. Const//- General.


The shipment of this year's crop of grapes at Almcria Malaga having
ceased, I have the honor to transmit the following report in reference thereto,
with a comparative table showing the amount exported for the years 1895-96,
which has been compiled from statistics published in the Gaceta Minera y
Agricola, of Almeria, dated the 2d instant :

The prices obtained for grapes in the New York market have not l>een
high, due possibly to the poor condition in which the fruit is received; owing
to the long ocean voyage. Fruit delivered in fair condition was sold at from
J3.50 to $6.50 per barrel.

The London market proved satisfactory, good prices having been ob-
tained. Certain special marks sold as high as 33s. per barrel ; regular, from
13s. to i6s. ; medium, from los. to 12s.; superior grades, from 17s. to 21s.
The most ordinary did not fall below 8s.

The total crop is 562,000 whole barrels and 4,500 half barrels, as against
692,690 whole barrels and 8,234 half barrels last season.

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The total shipments, crop of 1896, was 560,059 whole barrels and 4,183
half barrels, as against 629,965 whole barrels and 3,518 half barrels in 1895,
or 69,906 whole barrels less and 665 half barrels more than in 1895.


Malaga, November <?, i8g6. Consul,

Comparative table showing grapes exported from Atmeria Malaga for the years i8gj-g6.


Exports for season of
1896 (to Nov. 1).

Exports for season of
1895 (to Nov. 1).



New York.



Half bar.







Half bar.


Half bar.


Half bar.




















St. Petersburg-






The private sales of coal at Gibraltar during the year 1896 have reached
257,621 tons, a decrease of 12,454 tons as compared with the year 1895.
This decrease is due not only to the very keen competition this port has to
sustain with Malta and Algiers, but also to the low rates of freight for the
Black Sea and Levant ports during a part of 1896, which induced owners of
steamers, instead of filling up their vessels completely with cargo, to allot
sufficient space for carrying a supply of coals for the wants of the outward
and homeward voyages.

The loading ports in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean have of late
years established coaling depots, so that steamers can do their bunkering
before sailing, whereby a considerable amount of time is economized. And
a not less important factor is the improvements which are daily being carried
out in steam engines, enabling vessels bound to the far East to proceed from
Great Britain and the Continent direct to Port Said without coaling at any
intermediate port.


Gibraltar, January 6, iSgf. Consul.


This consular district is one of the largest regions in superficial area of
the Italian peninsula, and is covered with a network of highways that offer
marked advantages to the cyclist ; they are magnificently built, macadamized
roads, tended with the utmost care, so that they are at all times in a remark-
No. 198 3.

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ably favorable condition, despite the various changes in the weather. Form-
ing a complete network of communication between the towns and villages
of the region, they offer to the wheelman almost every variety of surface and
scenery, from long, level ranges of flat land in the province of Venice,
through gentle, slow undulations to the mountain district of the Dolomites
and Carnic Alps.

The sport of cycling has profited by these many natural advantages, and
its enthusiastic votaries are found in large and increasing numbers in all the
provinces of this district, that is, Veneto Padua, Treviso, Rovigo, Belluno,
Udine, Verona, and Mantua, and there exist at present about sixty establish-
ments for the sale and hire of bicycles.

There are in this district twenty odd clubs or associations, all for the ad-
vancement of the sport, besides the Touring Club, so called, and the Unione
Velocipedistica Italiana, both largely represented in this region. By way of
giving a vague idea of the importance of bicycling here, it may be stated
that there are approximately something like ten thousand bicycles in use at

There are in the region of Veneto three establishments for the manufac-
ture of bicycles, but relatively of small importance.

In the entire Kingdom of Italy, there are ten bicycle factories, the two
most noted and most patronized being Prinetti & Stucchi and Orio & Mar-
chand, both houses established at Milan.

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 196-199 → online text (page 46 of 82)