September 12, 1494: On this day, the King of France, Francis I, was born. He is associated with one of the rarest grape varieties today, Romorantin variety. The plant was first established in Romorantin city by King François I in 1519, where it quickly adapted and got its name. Romorantin grapes are a close relative of Chardonnay and are very rare. In the French Loire region, less than 50 hectares of grapes were used to make this wine. While locating this rare wine may be challenging, those who succeed are rewarded with a distinctive bouquet of lemon and fresh herbs that are excellent for contrasting with other challenging green vegetables, like asparagus.

September 12, 2002: The 28th annual Nederburg Auction, South Africa’s finest wine auction, achieved a new sales record on this day for the second year in a row. This auction grossed 7.34 million over 2 days, with close to 1,000 lots sold.

September 12, 2010: On this day the Cypriot-born maritime archaeologist Honor Frost died. In 1971 Frost led an archaeological investigation of the underwater remains of the so-called Marsala Ship, a Carthaginian warship of the kind developed by the mother colony of Carthage, Phoenicia, a civilization based out of the Levant between the eleventh and fourth centuries BC. During these centuries, Phoenicia developed a maritime empire based on an extensive trade in goods such as wine out of cities like Tyre and Sidon. Phoenicia’s impact on the wine culture of the Ancient Mediterranean was immense. For instance, it was the Phoenicians who spread wine culture to the Western Mediterranean, and it was them who began the practice of trading wine in large jars called amphorae throughout the Mediterranean. Thus, long before the rise of classical Greece and ancient Rome, the Phoenicians were massively influential in the wine culture of the Mediterranean world in ancient times. For more information, see Honor Frost’s ‘The Discovery of a Punic Ship’, in International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, Vol. 1, No. 1 (1972), pp. 113–117.

September 12, 2016: On this day, in Armenia’s highlands, a group of researchers discovered a cave that contained what is believed to be the world’s oldest winery, dating back to 6100 BC. There were several identifiable artifacts, including a grape press, fermenting jars, a drinking bowl, and a cup. Later, the grapes present were identified as Vitis Vinifera, one of the most popular species of wine grapes to this day.

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