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by Fred McMillin
"The Admiral" and the Vine
Wine in the New World started when Cortez brought wine vines to Mexico City from Spain in 1524.
...Leon Adams, The Wines of America
The Rest of the Story
He signed his name "The Admiral Cristoforo Colombo." He brought Spanish wine vines to the New World three decades BEFORE Cortez. They were aboard his vessels when he arrived at San Salvador on today's date in 1492. He returned with more on his second voyage in 1493. The 17-vessel armada carried chick peas, horses (there were none in the Americas), wheat, cattle, and GRAPE VINES. However, his men failed to become the Western Hemisphere's first vintners because all the vines died.
Our Wine of the Day
Since Columbus' vines were Spanish, today's wine comes from a Spanish wine village that existed when "The Admiral" was alive, Alella (ah-LEL-yah). In fact, as Colombo reached San Salvador they were celebrating the completion of their new Gothic cathedral, which still stands today. The odds are that even then they were making wine from the grape that's the "star of the region," Pansa Blanca. Hence, tonight's toast to the first wannabe New World vinegrower will be made with...
100% Pansa Blanca from Alella
Cristoforo's first voyage to the West Indies went fairly smoothly. The return was no piece of cake. He not only lost one ship, but when he stopped at an Azores island, the governor didn't believe Columbus' story that he had discovered America. So, he arrested Columbus' men on their way to church, and wouldn't let them go until The Admiral "threatened to shoot up the town."
Credits: Viola and Margolis, Seeds of Change; New York Times Magazine, 8-11-91; World Book Encyclpedia.
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Welcome to WineDay, the electronic Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday, WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend.
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