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[Page 115]

use the [indecipherable] or Baltic oak.  American oak they object to as imparting bitterness, and their native oak still more so.  This last on the contrary is the only kind used for brandy casks in the Cognac districts and from the staves of this oak the peculiar flavour is derived.  There is a great quantity of beet root spirit now mixed with the Brandy, this manufacture having, in the north especially, taken an increase extension since the vine disease.  I have seen this disease, but it is not now in an active state.  It produces results something like our old vine disease, but is a very different thing, covering the young shoots with a whitish mould and the fruit as well, succeeded by a glutinous secretion which prevents [transferation ?] in the fruit.  This last never afterwards [indecipherable] but keeps hard & bursts, leaving a bad smell.  The wood of vines much discarded instead of being brown as it ought to be at this season is almost black.  They say it has reached [indecipherable] as well as the [indecipherable] states.  Why then should we also not be visited by it?  Generally it is not nearly so bad here as last year but in some localities it is worse, and upon the whole not above ¼ of a crop is expected.  In the purchase of wines they all say it is very much like a lottery risk, sometimes when they think they are to be of the very finest, they prove to be altogether otherwise;  and at the end of 6 or 8 years it has happened that growths from which the highest results had been expected for several years after they were produced, turn out to be so inferior that they are glad to sell them at half their original prime cost.  A year which at the time of the vintage they expect to be celebrated as one of the remarkably fine ones of the century at the end of 5 or 6 years turns out to be quite the reverse, perhaps with the exception of one or two vineyards, and again a year which they believe will give only very inferior wine, and the produce of which remains unsaleable excepting at very low prices for several years suddenly acquires a high repute. They say they have to wait patiently from 3 to 5 or 6 years for the development of the peculiar bouquet & mellow softness which should characterise them. It rather

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