April 17, 1111: On this day, Robert of Molesme died. Robert of Molesme was a Christian saint who served as an abbot and one of the Cistercian Order’s founders. Robert and twenty-one of his monks left Molesme in 1098, intending to never return. This group established Cîteaux Abbey in a barren valley that Renaud, the viscount of Beaune, had given them. The monks founded Château de Cîteaux wines, which they maintained ownership of until 1792. After being destroyed by phylloxera, the estate’s 50 acres were revived in the 1990s when grapes were planted using the same design as when the monks were there. A delightful “Vin de Meursault” that is very well-balanced results from the vines’ response to attentive cultivation (leaf thinning, pruning, etc.).
April 17, 1385: Marchesi Antinori was established in Italy. The Antinori family had been related to the property since the late 1100s, but only formally began the commercial winery this year when Giovanni di Piero Antinori became a Florentine Winemakers’ Guild member.
April 17, 1876: This day marked the beginning of the Catalpa Rescue, the escape of six prisoners affiliated with the Irish Republican Brotherhood (Fenians) from the Convict Establishment – a British Penal Colony in Western Australia. Many of those involved would later have wines named after them. A particular example is Boyle O’Reilly, an Irishman, who had joined the Fenians in 1864. He contributed to the plan for the rescue. There is now a standard red mix wine named “O’Reilly”. Another dark mix wine popularly known as “Banished” is named after James Wilson – another Fenian. He was caught in 1866 and convicted for desertion & mutinous behavior and condemned to death. However, his sentence was reduced to life in servitude in 1867.
April 17, 1998: On this day, Sour Grapes, a wine documentary, was released. Sour Grapes delves into the world of fake wine auctions through the eyes of Rudy Kurniawan, a notorious imposter in the wine market. Kurniawan contaminated the world’s most costly wines in his home lab for years until he was exposed by a Burgundy winegrower.
April 17, 2016: On this day, The French winemakers emptied all of the Spanish wine tankers after stopping Spanish tankers at the border between France and Spain. They did this on the pretext that inexpensive wine from Spain and Italy represented unfair competition.
April 17, 2020: On this day, Clos Apalta‘s 20th anniversary vintage 2017 was recognized as one of the 100 best wines of 2020 by acclaimed wine critic James Suckling.
April 17, 2020: On this day, Davide Campari-Milano S.p.A. declared that it had begun exclusive talks with the privately held SARL FICOMA, a family business owned by Mr. Francis Tribaut (the “Seller”), to acquire an 80% stake in the share capital of SARL Champagne Lallier and other group companies, with a medium-term path to full ownership. In this instance, the Seller was given a put option thereupon, with the consummation of the transaction being conditioned upon French labor law procedures.
April 17, 2022: International Malbec Day. Malbec is a 2,000-year-old black grape with thick skin whose color is so dark and inky that it’s practically impenetrable, earning it the moniker “Black Wine.” Argentina now produces over 75% of all Malbec grapes, and April 17 is designated as World Malbec Day.
For more dates in wine history, click here.