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Copyright © 2015
Forkmedia LLC

by Fred McMillin
for November 29, 2000


Those Eccentric Etruscans,
and ... Their Great Grape


"Greek and Roman moralists [decried] the Etruscan's eccentric customs, such as allowing wives to participate in banquets."

...Oxford Companion to Wine, J. Robinson

In Tuscany (north of Rome), the Etruscans built up a flourishing wine trade; the native grape was the Sangiovese.

Your California Counterpart—David Coleman

David Coleman's eccentricities included:

    The future winemaker took chemical engineering at MIT instead of wine science at U.C.-Davis. He deliberately has not planted vines on the winery estate. "If I grew the grapes, I'd have to use them." Instead, he looks for and purchases the grapes with the characteristics he wants.

Furthermore, a few years ago he started making Sangiovese. His very first release (1994) won "Favorite of the Year" from both the Houston Chronicle and the San Diego Tribune. So, to see how the Etruscan grape is doing in David's hands, here's...

Our Wine of the Day

1997 Alterra Sangiovese produced and bottled by Ayn and David Coleman's Adler Fels Winery.
Source of Grapes—David chose grapes from high in Mendocino county...above the fog line...very little rain...low yields mean intense flavors.
My Panel's Report—"Nice balance between the grape and wood contributions." HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Food Affinities—Sangiovese is food-friendly. Doesn't overpower. Ham, veal, smoked turkey, pasta dishes.
Contact—Ph. (7O7) 539-3l23, FAX (707) 539-3128
Price—$20 range

For Much More On Adler Fels

  • See Feb. 24, 1999 WineDay titled, "This Char Is Up To Par"..On the patio by the winery, one can tee up and drive golf balls out into the Valley of the Moon 1,500 feet below. The Colemans say their course is "one hole, par 50."
  • See May 19, 2000 WineDay titled,"Why Fels Sells"..When David went out to look at his new land, why was he looking down the barrel of a shotgun?


Back to the Etruscans and their grape. Those fun-loving folks were the first to stopper their wine containers with cork. Hence, Sangiovese must be the first of today's important wine grapes to have rested against cork!


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.



This page created November 2000