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Wine Blogging Wednesday 79 — Merlot for Miles

Ok, so much for that auto post on so-and-so-day at thus-and-so time (operator error, no doubt)…  Better late than never I suppose.

July 25th marks the 79th edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday — the (almost) monthly virtual wine gathering.  Our host this month is Liza (on Twitter: @BrixChick_Liza), from the group of wine ladies know as Brix Chicks.  Our theme this month is Summer Reading, Summer Wine.  As a voracious reader of fiction, I unilaterally award Liza serious extra hosting credits for a cool theme this month.

Our charge for WBW79 Summer Reading, Summer Wine is to write about a wine (and taste of course) our favorite fictional character would drink.  Though I would enjoy choosing a wine and narrative for a few of my favorite fictional characters — Jake Barnes, Hal Incandenza, Stephen Dedalus, Amory Blaine — I decided to go with a more wine-centric and timely choice instead.

With the Wine Bloggers Conference in Oregon just a few weeks away, much of my reading time as of late has been devoted to Oregon-centric educational reads like Katherine Cole’s Voodoo Vintners and Cole Danehower’s Essential Wines and Wineries of the Pacific Northwest, along with one not-so-educational, yet hilarious (at times) read — Vertical, Rex Pickett’s (on Twitter: @RexPickett) sequel to his first novel, Sideways, and the film adaptation.

The film version of Sideways was wildly successful at the box office grossing over $250 million and the recipient of over 350 awards, including an Academy Award.  By far the most popular wine-related film ever, Sideways is credited as the catalyst for two significant shifts — known as The Sideways Effect — in the wine industry:  first, setting off a revolution of new Pinot Noir drinkers (thereby increasing global Pinot Noir sales by 14%), and, at the same time, causing the nose dive of the Merlot industry.

Sideways fans (and Merlot producers) remember Miles Raymond — a devout Pinot Noir evangelist with an intense dislike for Merlot — who uttered the infamous and oft quoted lines; “…if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am not drinking any f*cking Merlot.”  So, in the spirit of taking fictional liberties, my fictional character for WBW79 is one Miles Raymond, and my wine of choice for Mr. Raymond is… of course… a Merlot!

In the third book of the trilogy (more fictionalizing here) — Punt Side Up — Miles finds himself destitute after blowing through book royalties and speaking fees.

To preserve his lifestyle, and to continue to provide never-ending financial assistance to his best, and only, friend Jack as he moves in and out of sex addiction rehab, and to also support the child he fathered with a deranged Shameless groupie during a one-night-stand after a book signing, Miles accepts the Writer-in-Residence position with the Merlot Growers Society of America.  His first charge is to chronicle the history of Merlot for a coffee table book.

My choice for Mile’s Merlot for WBW79 is the Breaux Vineyards 2002 Merlot Reserve (on Twitter:  @BreauxVineyards) produced by Breaux Vineyards in the Loudoun County region of Virginia.  As an adjunct to the Merlots of America coffee table book, Miles is also tasked with writing a tasting guide featuring Merlots from all 50 states — including many Merlots from Virginia.  The entry for this particular Merlot; ‘An expressive wine characterized by pure dark fruit, mocha, hints of tobacco and earth.  Not just good Virginia Merlot, this Breaux Merlot is damn good Merlot!

On a serious note, the 2002 Merlot from Breaux Vineyards has been one of my favorite Virginia wines since first tasting this gem in 2008.  This Merlot is an excellent example of a superbly balanced wine that continues to improve with age.   Unfortunately I only have two more bottles on my racks and this particular vintage is nearly impossible to get now.  If you can find this wine, I highly recommend picking up a couple bottles.

Thanks Liza for a unique topic for this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday, and providing a great occasion to open one of my favorite Virginia wines.  A virtual tip ‘o the hat to Lenn Thompson and Tim Elliott for keeping this monthly wine gathering going — cheers guys!

For more of the Sideways backstory, check out my interview with Rex Pickett here.

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