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Gastronomy & Wine
THE “OPULENT VINEYARDS”
& WINES OF ANDALUSIA
WITH A FOLDING ENGRAVING
BOUTELOU, Esteban. Memoria sobre el cultivo de la vid en Sanlucar de Barrameda y Xerez de la Frontera. Madrid, La Imprenta de Villalpando, 1807.
4to [20.2 x 14.2 cm], 160 pp., (1) folding engraved plate. Bound in contemporary Spanish calf with blind-and gold-tooled decoration to spine and panels on upper and lower covers, gold-tooled board edges, marbled endpapers, blue sprinkled edges. Some rubbing and edge wear to spine and covers, minor glue toning to pastedowns. Pages 3 and 4 with toning and edge wear at upper margin, otherwise excellently well-preserved.
$3,350 Very rare first and only edition of the noted Spanish botanist and agronomist Estaban Boutelou’s (1776-1813) illustrated treatise on the cultivation of grapes at Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Jerez de la Frontera and the production from these ‘opulentas viñas’ of such wines as the Fino, Manzanilla, Oloroso, Amontillado, and Palo Cortado sherries for which that region of Andalusia continues to be celebrated. Predating the phylloxera infestation of 1894, the Memoria sobre el cultivo de la vid (1807) is a valuable witness to methods of winemaking in the region during a time when more than 100 varietals were cultivated (now just three grapes – Palomino, Pedro Ximénez, and Moscatel – dominate the industry there). Boutelou, in a (prescient) comparison, likens the ancient Roman ruins of Spain to the area’s famous vines, which he calls “los mas preciosos monumentos de nuestra Agricultura.”
The volume opens with brief notes on the origin of grape cultivation in the region, the historical development of varietals, and the importance of Xerez wine as an export to Great Britain. Boutelou then writes generally on vines (their age and growth, the physiology of their roots, leaves, etc.), discusses soils (light chalky albariza or tosca, the brown clay barros, and the sandy arenas), several methods for preparing land in advance of planting vines, the advantages of various planting patterns (illustrated with letterpress diagrams), taking cuttings from existing vines, planting these cuttings, spacing plants, staking vines, and the advantages of cultivating different varietals side by side. Much space is given to the theory and practice of pruning, and here Boutelou provides the reader with a folding engraving depicting six bladed tools useful for pruning, each with an explanation in the text. He writes on managing exposure to sunlight, weeding, fertilizing, costs and expenses, yields, ‘tricks of the trade’, the harvest, and common diseases.
A long oenological appendix describes the production of wine from the grapes of Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Jerez, from crushing, to fermentation, to filtration, and clarification, with a discussion of a wine’s ‘nose’, its dryness or sweetness, methods of blending, fining, and the like. Boutelou next provides ‘tasting notes’ describing the peculiar qualities of these wines, and discusses the transport of finished wine overland to the north and abroad via ships, the prices wines command, and the preference for United States oak in the construction of wine barrels. He concluded with a section on the crafting of spirits from local grapes, with notes on the construction of stills and points of the distillation process.
Esteban Boutelou, Professor of Agriculture & Rural Economy at the Real Jardin Botánico de Madrid and Jardinero Mayor at Santa Maria en el Real Sitio in Aranjuez, authored several botanical volumes both alone and in collaboration with his brother Claudio Boutelou (1774-1842), including Experimentos y observaciones sobre la Cebada ramose (1806), Tratado de la Huerta (1801), Tratado de las Flores (1804), Descripción y nombres de las diferentes especies de uvas que hay en los viñedos de Ocaña (1805), Especies y variedades de Pinos que se crían en la Sierra de Cuenca (1806), Sobre las variedades de Trigos, Cebadas y Centenos, cuyo cultivo te ha ensayado en Aranjuez (1807).
OCLC locates only 1 U. S. copy of this very rare treatise (Washington St.).
* Palau 34102, D. Hidalgo, Diccionario general de bibliografía Española, vol. 5, p. 415; M. Colmeiro, La botánica y los botánicos de la Peninsula Hispano-Lusitana, p. 86, no. 665.
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