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Copyright © 2015
Forkmedia LLC

by Fred McMillin
for December 25, 2000


On Christmas Day...
A Grape from the Time of Christ


The Sangiovese grape was harvested by the Etruscans in Tuscany some five centuries before the birth of Christ.

...from my Wine Fundamentals course

The Rest of the Story

The Etruscans passed the Sangiovese baton to the Romans, who passed it to the monks at the dawn of the Dark Ages. It was the dominate grape in the wine we know today as Chianti.

In 790, the monks at the Tuscan Abbey of San Bartolomeo may have been the first to call the famous wine area "clanti." Nearly five centuries later, as the Bardi family's castle (photo) was being completed in 1250, old Florentine documents show the name had become today's "Chianti." Modern Chianti wines contain about 90% of the ancient Sangiovese, and one of them is...

Castello of Gabbiano

The Castello (castle) of Gabbiano was completed in 1250 A.D.

Our Christmas-Day Wine

Castello di Gabbiano 1996 Chianti Classico Riserva
Classico?—Refers to the core area of the large Chianti district south of Florence, Italy. Established in 1941.
Riserva?—Italian law requires at least three years aging for riservas.
Rating—Substantial but not rough. Can complement even very robust dishes. However, my wife and I have always loved Chianti and pizza. We had it in Florence, and we had this bottle with pizza at home. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (Incidentally, the Florence pizza was FRIED??)
Proprietor—Milan chemical engineer Raino Alcaini bought Gabbiano for twelve million dollars twenty years ago. He's very progressive, doubling the size of the vineyard to 120 acres, bringing in French oak barrels, etc. etc. How's he doing? America's authority Robert Parker Jr. listed the best Tuscan producers and gave Gabbiano an EXCELLENT!
Contact—Office of Phyllis Turner, (707) 963-7115. FAX (707) 963-1735
Price of the Wine—$17 range

Postscript—A Little Christmas Trivia

First Celebration of Christ's Birth—c.200 A.D. in Egypt!

Establishing Christmas Date as Dec. 25—345 A.D. in Rome by Bishop Tiberius.

First Drawing of Santa Claus—1863 in Harper's Weekly by cartoonist Thomas Nast.

First String of Christmas Tree Lights—1896 by an employee of a New England telephone company.


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 December 2000