Here’s an interesting fact: according to Wikipedia -and who doesn’t rely on Wikipedia these days – Merlot is the third most-grown grape varietal globally. Take that! Miles Raymond (from the movie Sideways).
Winemaker: Alexander & Fitch
Appellation: Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, CA
Price: $6.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: Dark burgundy in the glass, this A&F Merlot exhibited earth, moss and berries in the bouquet. Medium-bodied and with good acidity, it has what I would call “medium-ish” tannins. Flavors I detected included earth, vanilla, balsamic vinegar (without the vinegar), cherries, and bitters. Another solid performer from the inexpensive selections at Trader Joe’s.
Accustomed to seeing flashing red and white lights in, around, and coming out of our local fire station, last June I was treated to an entirely different kind of light show. I was walking by just before dusk and noticed that the front yard was covered with flashing yellow dots. Fireflies! It was an amazing sight. There must have been scores of them in a little, tiny yard. And even more in the field behind the fire station.
Unfortunately, the camera on my phone was not capable of capturing the full effect. I took copious amounts of pictures, many of which have no sign of firefly showmanship at all. I just couldn’t get them to synchronize. The photo below has the most firefly flashes I was able to catch at one time – 6. Ha! Even so, those little fireflies created a definite excitement not only for me but for all the passersby that evening (especially the young kids). I wasn’t the only one who stopped to enjoy the show.
Perhaps it’s that sense of wonderment and excitement that the artwork on the Firefly Ridge label seeks to tap into. It’s a great label. Certainly a lot more romantic and idealized than fireflies against smudged concrete block and drain spouts!
Winemaker: Firefly Ridge
Appellation: Central Coast, California
Notes: Dark red in color, this California Merlot had a subtle bouquet of berries and cola. A medium-bodied wine, acidity seemed fine and tannins were light. On the other hand, I felt this was (for lack of a better term) clunky on the palate. I thought the flavors of berries, pepper, rubber and oak were just not well integrated. All the better then, that I was able to grab this on discount at $5.99.
Not too long ago I had the opportunity to travel to Montreal for work. I have been to Montreal previously for fun – a long weekend in the summer – so I was looking forward to a return visit. Until, that is, I looked at my schedule for my time there. First, they had me booked into a hotel at the airport (I could have walked). The meetings I was part of were also at the airport hotel. And they had me so tight time-wise that I literally couldn’t leave the property. It was a work trip, and that’s exactly what I did the entire time I was there. One bright spot was that I got to pull out some of my college French and put it to use. It’s been a few years, but I managed to get some appreciative nods and smiles from attendees when I opened my portion of the meetings with a sentence or two in French. After all the hustle and bustle of the meetings, etc., I finally had a moment to relax – in the airport terminal waiting for my return flight. Ha!
photo by FRED
Finding a restaurant called Houston Bar & Grill just steps from the gate, I sat down for a bite and a swig. I chose their Classic Burger and a glass of wine. Since I was in Canada, I asked for a domestic offering. When in Rome and all ….
Notes: I thought this was surprisingly light-bodied. At first sip it seemed quite peppery with a fruit core of cherry, hints of cassis, some tobacco, and spice notes lingering on the finish. Funny thing was that as the wine breathed, the flavors subsided significantly. They were still there but weren’t nearly as present on the palate. This was my first glass of Canadian wine, so I’ll have to do some more sipping and exploring. Don’t expect another work trip north again any time soon. Next time, though, I’ll try to wrest a few more moments from the schedule for fun and more Canadian vin.