Beautiful enamel wine labels link wine history with the present and future: Happy New Year!

These beautiful late 18th Century enamel labels for Cyprus wine illustrate that the wine industry has a long and elegant history.

The four enamel labels most likely are for Commandaria wine, which is a Cyprus sweet dessert wine, sometimes fortified but always with a high alcohol level.    The label marked Malvoisie de Chipre refers to ancient grape varieties, known as malvoisie, used for dessert wines.    Commandaria wine dates back to approximately 800 BC and was popular during the time of the Crusades in the 11th and 12th centuries and subsequently exported widely within Europe.  

I wrote about Commandaria wine in a 2013 blog and described it as follows:

‘As a fortified wine, Commandaria travelled well and was exported throughout Europe.    It was popular in England, for example, not only in the 13th century but later and was a favourite of the Tudor Kings including King Henry V111.

Commandaria is made only in a defined region of 14 wine producing villages in the Troodos foothills about 20 miles north of Limassol. The wine production for Commandaria has remained true to traditional methods.   The production is small and it maintains its ranking among the world’s classic wines.  In 1993, the European Union registered     Commandaria as a protected name and geographic origin.

Commandaria is regarded as an eastern mediterranean equivalent of its western mediterranean cousins, Port and Sherry.   We found it had both similar and different characteristics and was more refreshing and lighter with higher acidity. ‘

For a fuller description of this fortified wine please look at my earlier blog post:

https://elizabethsvines.com/2013/02/04/cyprus-wine-maki…century-part-two/

The various spellings of Cyprus on the four enamels in the photograph suggest a robust export of Cyprus wines in the late 18th and 19th centuries.   Chypre is the french spelling for Cyprus and this label is early French in origin and the Chipre and Malvoisie de Chipre are early English.  The Cyprus label is more recent.   

2020 will surely be remembered as an extraordinarily difficult year for wine makers.  From my conversations with several over the years, including members of Confrèries, I realize that they are used to overcoming a variety of challenges including weather, soil and pest conditions as well as market changes.   This year they have again demonstrated their ability to tackle a new challenge with innovation and creativity.

These exquisite and historic Cyprus enamel labels, shown courtesy of Dr. Richard Wells, help to remind us of the longevity and resilience of the wine making industry and the pleasure it brings to so many people: past, present and future.

I wish all wine makers and their families everywhere a successful year in 2021.

Happy New Year!

elizabethsvines

 

Reference:   http://www.drrwells.com   Enamel Wine Labels:  refer to Dr Well’s blog for a full description of enamel labels.

2 thoughts on “Beautiful enamel wine labels link wine history with the present and future: Happy New Year!

  1. We used to have a lot of these wine labels when I worked as a Guide at Harveys Wine Museum in Bristol – both in silver and in enamel. They are beautiful and it was such a shame when the collection was dispersed when the Museum closed.

  2. I have a print of an old poster from Christie’s about a wine sale to be held on 7th February 1822 where it lists “Madeira 7 dozens, Calcavella 50 dozens, Lisbon, Paxarete, Old Malaga, Sack, and Cyprus, in pints, as also Frontignac, Cape, and some fine old Rum.” I shall send you a photo of it. A very interesting post.

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