Page:A book of the Cevennes (-1907-).djvu/156

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104
THE CEVENNES

boisterous rivers, rude summits, with pines above and chestnut trees below, with Biblical types of men, bullet-headed, and with brains not altogether like other men's brains. Nature herself puts on a severe countenance; the woods look like gloomy conspirators, the wind seems to chant psalms, and with a little imagination it is possible to fancy that one hears a far-off echo of some Assembly of the Desert that Time has forgotten to sweep away in its onward march."


Looking westward from Valence is seen the little town of S. Peray, and towering above it the ruined castle of Crussol on a limestone cliff.

S. Peray is famous, with a limited fame, for its sparkling wine.

The white wine of S. Peray always had a certain celebrity. The wine merchants of Burgundy and Champagne, seeing that very good juice of the grape was to be had there cheap, bought it up and sold it as their own crus, or else doctored it. They purchased whole vintages at the time of the gathering in and crushing of the grape, and by means of the navigation of the Rhone and Saône, were able to bring them into the heart of France.

But after a while the owners of the vineyards of S. Peray saw their way to selling direct to the consumer. In 1798 one of them discovered the secret how to make the wine effervesce, and he set to work to produce sparkling S. Peray, which soon obtained great favour.

The phylloxera came in 1874 and devastated the vineyards. But they have been replanted with stocks from America, grafted with the indigenous vine, and these are strong and flourishing, and yield abundantly, the wine somewhat coarse at first, but mellowing as