sábado, 26 de setembro de 2009

Era of New World Wines

One thing about living in Bahia is the lack of good drink and the little variety of food to go with it. I am not much of a beer drinker, never have really gone in for sampling a beverage by the pint, it is strange that pubs in Britain have not caught on to the idea of putting beers into more elegant glasses and serving in half pint measures so that one can sample and taste without being comatose after the third glass. After all how can you taste the beer if you are expected to open your mouth wide and fill it every time. Think of the drink as wine, would you get the same experience with wine in a pint glass?
My recent stay in France as rekindled my love of wines, nurishing and balancing a meal, mind you it is said the same of beer but you need to think what food can battle against the taste of the hop. It is with bewilderment that I see that in Brazil there is a huge production of wine and yet never hear anyone in Europe mention that they have ever tasted a Brazilian wine, this is almost true in Bahia where there is production of grapes but a poor production of wine, and what wine I have tasted in Bahia is of low class.
Almost all the production of good wine in Brazil is in the South, where the climate is more European and the culture is also more European. Depending who you read it would be the Spanish, Portuguese or Italians that developed traditions here in Brazil, certainly from a historic point of view it would be the Portuguese and Spanish, but I believe that their attempts to form a base for wine production was not long lasting. Another important figure is Thomas Messiter, an Englishman, who was the first in Brazil to grow grapes from the famous vine "vitis labrusca" in 1814. The vine adapted to the unfavourable climate much more easily than other European varieties.
The arrival of the first European immigrants in the south of Brazil was therefore, an important point in the history of Brazilian wine production. In 1860, the Portuguese started growing wine in Santa Catarina, which is near Sao Bento do Sul, Campo Alegre and Florianpolis. The French were probably the first who thought of using the wine commercially after 1865. However, Italians with their tradition and wine growing experience reaching back more than two thousand years, were the ones who ensured the importance of wine growing after 1875. They brought their own varieties and new commercial programmes., it is now being helped by European legislation and a lot of European companies.
Rio Grande do Sul, which produces about 92 % of all wine, can be proud of its producers who introduced wines of such quality that they aroused interest even abroad.
No doubt, there are a lot of complications when they have to overcome such problems as the weather unsuitable for the specific cultivation but the states and the producers expend considerable effort to introduce further improvements.To achieve international recognition, Brazil joined the "Office International de la Vigne e du Vin" in March 1995. The country expects it will be able to benefit from the scientific and technical support of this organization and that it will gain guarantees for its export. Moreover, Brazil will introduce the European method of indication of origin. Another important factor to further increase wine quality is Brazil's effort to obtain more investments.
Brazil grows all fine wine varieties. White wines: Riesling Italico, Malvasia, Sauvignon, Semillon, Chardonnay, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Bianco and Moscato. Red wines: Merlot, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Syrah, Tannat, Pinot Noir, and also Nebbiolo and Barbera.


The regulations for viticulture have not yet been fully defined; for example, there is no compulsory deadline for harvesting. However, as every wine in the world, Brazilian wines comply with certain compulsory labelling regulations. The law stipulates the following identification marks:
The wine producer's and the bottler's name
The region and winery address
Name, fineness, classification, type and origin of the product
Agricultural area and the registration number of the product
Net volume
Actual alcoholic strength by volume
All used additives or their code and class
It is forbidden to put a false geographical indication on the label. The most common type of wine, the slightly sweetened "vinho de mesa" (table wine), must be indicated "suave" or "doce" (dry or sweet), printed on the label. Sparkling wines must be indicated with the method of production (gaseificado - aerated). This word must be printed in letters sized min. 50 % of the biggest word and must be in the same colour as the other information.

Explanatory Notes

Comum - wine produced from hybrids and American vine
Seco - wine containing less than 5 g/l of sugar
Leve - wine containing 1 to 10 g/l of sugar
Meio doce - wine containing 5 to 20 g/l of sugar
Doce ou Suave - wine containing more than 20 g/l of sugar
Varietal - wine produced from min. 60 % of the grape variety stated on the label
Vinho de mesa - wine containing 10 to 13 % of alcohol




quarta-feira, 23 de setembro de 2009

Early Technology touchs Masonic heights at Bonhams, London

Lot No: 164W

A very rare full size replica of the Bayeux Tapestry photographed by Joseph Cundall 1874
Joseph Cundall's full size photographic panorama of the Bayeux Tapestry, with its linen backing, hand coloured by students from the School of Art, London (now the Royal College of Art). This is the largest photographic panorama made in the nineteenth century, just over 226 feet in length. It is probably still the largest photographic panorama ever made. Just six copies were made and published by the Arundel Society in 1874 using the Woodbury process, and offered for sale at the massive price of £216.00 each. It is mounted on its original oak Arts and Crafts stands, 55in (140cm) high

Estimate: £5,000 - 8,000

I will not bore you too much today with the ins and outs of employing local labour, or the closing of the windows and doors, slightly eralier than normal, to stop too many mosquitos entering and the spray around my feet of some toxic kind, all to try and get a few minutes to write a new posting for you. Not so easy as well because I still have not got my vision sorted, still if i make a load of spelling mistakes i will try to clear them with the spell check.
I am sure that any one having read a reasonable amount of my blog will be aware of my association with Michael Bennett-Levy, we have worked together for many years and i have watched is collective habit grow at great speed. he has an amzing knack of consuming information and being able to then put it all together to track a history of a particular piece of early technology. i n his collection there are no great retrictions brought to bare by taste or excelence of manufacture, he sees the skill of the inventor as that of the ideas person and not the subsequent manufacturing of an item, thus a simple battered typewriter can be an element of joy to his eyes, especially if it is the earliest that he has held in his hands, it is fairly sure to be the earliest any one has knowingly touched as a type writer if he has had to look up in old catalogues and sales records to make sure that what he has just bought is in fact a type writer.
At the end of the month bonhams will be putting up the vast majority of Michaels stock, it may be called a collection but Michael will always tell anyone entering his house that all is for sale, so i reckon it is all stock, now being sold for Michael to restart another chapter in his career which will be started in France. Michael's sale will hold most spell bound, the depth of its quality and the spread of its fields, ranging from the Clive Sinclair watch, computer and C5 to the great Scottish poet, Robert Burn's, Masonic Apron

Poet Robert Burns' masonic apron that he received when he joined the Royal Arch Chapter in 1787 is to be sold - and could fetch an astonishing 25,000 pounds.
The lamb skin apron is exceptionally rare in itself, but its association with the great Scots poet makes it hugely valuable.
Burns became a mason in 1781 and was appointed Companion of the Holy Royal Arch at St Ebbe's Lodge, Eyemouth, Scotland six years later.
He was allowed in for free to this particular order of fremasonry because of his poetic genius and an extract from the minutes of the chapter, Land O' Cakes N0. 15, states:
"At a general encampment held this day the following brethren were made Royal Arch Masons, viz Robert Burns from the Lodge of St James, Tarbolton, Ayrshire..."
The apron is decorated with masonic symbols including two columns, a chequered pavement, square and compass, three candles, a sun and a moon.
It is framed in a wooden case and an inscription reads: "Robert Burns. Masonic Apron. 1787."
Current owner Michael Bennett-Levy recalls the apron hanging in his grandmother's flat but now it could be snapped up by collectors anywhere around the world.
He said: "Throughout my life the apron hung in my grandmother's flat and, after her death, in my parent’s home.
"When I inherited it some years ago I did some research, but could not associate it with any of the Scottish lodges to which Robert Burns belonged.
"I did nothing further until February this year when I decided to have it X-rayed.
"The X-ray photos showed clearly the top of an archway under the apron flap and a London Freemason instantly identified it as an 18th century Royal Arch apron."
Jon Baddeley, from Bonhams, who is selling it, said: "Bonhams is delighted to be offering this rare masonic artefact once owned by the Scottish cultural icon, Robert Burns.
"It has remained in the same family since the 1830s and has been to Australia with the family and returned to Britain in the early 1900s.
"It is a very rare piece of masonic memorabilia in its own right, but its association with Burns makes it more important.
"Having been consigned from north of the border, I am confident it will returning to Scotland again after the auction."
Th apron has been passed down the generations of Bennett-Levy's family and has long been a treasured heirloom.
Initially the apron belonged to Michael's great, great grandfather Sir Benjamin Benjamin (Mayor of Melbourne and Senior Mason).
He later passed it on to his son-in law Bernhard Sinauer, who had the valuable piece framed whilst living in Brisbane, Australia.
The item was then repatriated to England following the Australian Masonic schism of the early 1900s and passed down to Bennett-Levy’s grandfather Esmond Sinauer, his daughter Valerie and then finally Bennett-Levy himself.
Burns first joined the Freemasons when he was inducted as an Apprentice at the St David Lodge, Tarbolton, in 1781.
By 1784 he was Deputy Master and, on moving to Edinburgh in 1786, joined the St John, then Cannongate Lodges, Kilwinny.
Two other aprons have been identified as belonging to Burns, but neither was a Royal Arch apron.

The sale takes place on September 30. I understand that the New York Times will be publishing an article about Michael this coming Saturday.

The FT.com article on michael was published on the 18 September and is on the web at

The link direct to the sale items is