The morning of August 7, 1815, Napoleon was not super-duper. He slept badly, he was fed up with the sea, and the future seemed to him as gray as the shade of his nankeen trousers, which wrapped around his belly with a tight ring, as if they were not pants at all, but the combined forces of the Allies in the battle of the peoples near Leipzig . As the story goes, “Northumberland” (the ship that drove the emperor to St. Helena ) made a stop on the island of Madeira to replenish the supplies of wine and food.
Thinking about his future asylum, Napoleon always imagined some squalor. The ticking of the clock in the empty living room under the howling of the wind in the chimney. Or – send a servant to feed the parrot, and he comes back and says: “He’s dead, sir. I suppose, out of boredom. ” Or some desert landscape with a dry tree and a broken mill. Therefore, he instructed the captain to buy him a pipe (about 600 bottles) of Madera on the island , in order to somehow defend himself against the discouraged atmosphere in the atmosphere. “Whoever drinks only water, the frogs begin to croak in the stomach,” – this Corsican proverb he commented on the captain’s desire.
A few years before the events described
In 1792 in France, Guillotine was first put in operation, in Italy, Rossini was born, in Sweden the king died, we published Poor Lisa, and on Madeira Island we poured wine on barrels, which for 23 years quietly waited until Napoleon conquered Europe , all will lose and will come here, to Madeira, as a solvent captive – to take one of the barrels with him.
One hundred and fifty years before the events described
Madeira only learned to do. Accidentally. The usual dry wine could not stand long voyages – it was sour. To keep the wine longer, it was strengthened by adding strong spirits to the barrels of wine. The island of Madeira was at an oceanic “crossroads”, where ships, like Northumberland with Napoleon on board, usually replenished fresh water and food supplies. Purchased in Madeira, local dessert wine was fortified with a mixture of brandy and not wandering wine wort – and sailed further. It turned out that if you swim, say, from London – through Madeira – to Bombay – and vice versa, wine under the influence of sugar, constant rolling in the hold of the ship and the tropical heat not only did not spoil, but it got better. In addition, it was in great demand in America. On the labels often wrote the name of the ship that brought the wine to the United States. So, especially known for Madera,
However, the “ship way” of Madeira was too expensive, and they found a cheaper alternative: to store barrels of wine in the premises where hot water is circulating. The first warehouse of this kind appeared in Madeira in 1794.
Dry wines still have a storage limit. While Madera is practically “eternal” wine, the taste qualities of which can be admired in 200 years. 12 bottles of harvest in 1792 from the lot of wine that Napoleon bought on the way to Fr. St. Helena, survived to the present day. And they are now stored in the cellar of some kind of moneybags that they bought them at the Christie auction. Here’s how they look: