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Welcome to February—A Toast to Februarius
Februarius (today, February) had a rough start. It was omitted from the original Roman calendar. Later, it was added as the 1ast month of the year. Then, by 400 B.C. it was moved behind January. Even worse, someone stole one of its days. Julius Caesar took one off of February and added it to the month named after him, July.
Caesar's conquest of Gaul, France, hastened the northward march of the vines. Within an astonishingly short time French wines such as those on the Rhone around Vienne were to be making a great name for themselves....Edward Hyams in "Dionysus".
"It is certain that the Syrah vine was established in the Rhone Valley by Roman times....J. Robinson in "Vines, Grapes & Wines."
The Rest of the Story
OK. To start the month of Februarius, I'm toasting the man who got Rhone winemaking organized, Caesar, with a glass of Syrah. However, in order to keep the budget balanced, I'll pass on a pricey Rhone. Instead, I'll take a Syrah that won BEST BUY in my most recent 20-wine tasting. Here it is:
1995 Syrah, El Dorado County, CA.
I didn't quite finish the travails of February. Emperor Augustus was not about to be outdone by the likes of Caesar. So, Augustus took ANOTHER day off of February and added it to the month named after him, August. February, originally a robust 30 day month, had been reduced to 28.
Note: For more about this mountainous winery (elevation 2,900') see the April 15, 1997 WineDay titled, "Raising
Syrah to New Heights."
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