by Fred McMillin
for September 1, 1999


Welcome to the Seventh (?) Month



1997 Carmenet Reserve  
The Latin word for seven is SEPTEM.

The Rest of the Story

Wait just a darn minute. September is the ninth month of the year, not the SEVENTH. How come?

Well, September WAS the SEVENTH month in the old Roman calendar; in 46 B.C. Julius Caesar added two months. Now September was the ninth month, but the name was not changed.

Selecting Today's Wine

Alright. To start SEPTEMber, we're picking a good wine with plenty of sevens in its resumé. Here it is.

  • Harvested in nineteen ninety SEVEN.
  • SEVENty percent Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Bottled in the SEVENth month of 1998.
  • Acid content SEVEN point one grams per liter.

    It is the 1997 Carmenet Reserve Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon. The Carmenet winery and estate vineyard are located high on the eastern slopes of the Sonoma Valley, that produce outstanding Bordeaux-style reds. However, as part of the Chalone Wine Group, Carmenet gained access to some outstanding white grapes about two decades ago. They were from the 650-acre Paragon Vineyard planted in 1973 in the marine-cooled Edna Valley near San Luis Obispo. The Paragon Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend by Carmenet was born. What have critics thought of it through the years?
    James Laube: "Distinctive. Tart. Intense."
    Prof. John Baxevanis: "Rich. Concentrated in flavor and scent. A must for the serious enophile."

    My panel agrees. They found it to be one of the three or four best Sauvignon Blanc-based wines tasted this year. The details...

    Wine of the Day

    Sauvignon Blanc (70%)/Semillon (30%)
    Paragon Vineyard, Edna Valley, Carmenet Winery
    Production—5,543 cases
    Contact—Jeanine Robbins, (707) 996-5870, FAX (707) 996-5302

    Postscript—Hard Times at Obispo

    Some of California's earliest wine grapes were grown in the Edna Valley. The San Luis Obispo Mission's friars grew grapes and other produce in the valley. And the yields were much appreciated. The startup rations donated from the few other missions consisted of "a small box of sugar, some wheat seed, fifty pounds of flour, and a little chocolate." As if the food situation wasn't bad enough, three times the local Indians shot flaming arrows into the dried-grass roof of the mission, burning it to the ground. But what has all of this got to do with Sept. 1st? The San Luis Obispo Mission was founded in 1772 on SEPTEMBER 1st!

    About the Writer

    Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


    WineDay Annex

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    Fred McMillin


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