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by Fred McMillin
Voltaire Had It Right
"Wine is the divine juice of September."
... Voltaire, 1694-1778
"We harvested this South Ridge Syrah on September 19,1994."
...Jerry Lohr Founder/Owner J.Lohr Winery
The September-harvested J.Lohr Syrah is definitely one of Voltaire's "divine juices," and it's no accident. To start with, when the vines were planted some years ago in the Paso Robles district, viticulturist Steve Carter called on his experience with the grape in Australia, where it is the dominate red-wine varietal. He selected a south-facing slope; hence the name "South Ridge Syrah." Also, he liked the lean, mean soil that would thwart Syrah's tendency to "carry more grapes than it can properly ripen."
Good choice! This is only the second vintage from the vineyard, and already the wine has rich berry flavors with plenty of power...a fine $14 value.
South Ridge Syrah, Paso Robles
Voltaire may have unwittingly consumed some wine made from the Syrah. The nearest prestigious wine would have been from Bordeaux...but I own a wine book written when Voltaire was living, Sir Edward Barry's Observations [on wine], 1775. He notes that "French Wine merchants, encouraged by the great demand for Bourdeaux (sic) wines... began to mix them with inferior wines." In 1824, another London physician, Alexander Henderson, wrote that "to each hogshead of Bordeaux... sometimes Hermitage (Syrah) was added." So, there may have been some Syrah in Voltaire's "divine juice."
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