June 28, 2007


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Got milk?

We are the merlot
A wine for every state
By Tim Protzman tprotzman@sbcglobal.net

My old cat used to read the newspaper with me every afternoon.

This was when even the smallest cities had morning and afternoon dailies. We’d get the paper around 4 o’clock. I’d spread it on the floor, lie down and start to read. Bitsie the cat would come down from her chair near the window and climb on my back. She’d snooze there until I was done. Bitsie was my first pet and I always remember her when I read a real newspaper. Or when I play that “stripper/pornstar/drag queen” game where you take the name of your first pet and combine it with your first address to come up with a handle you’d use if you were a stripper/pornstar/drag queen. Bitsie Custer just doesn’t cut it.

I read 10 to 12 newspapers online every day. Most are in New England, but occasionally I venture west to read papers from Idaho and Kansas. Most don’t have a wine column, but the Wyoming Tribune Eagle has a cattle report. This micro look at America gives me not only the big picture, it lets me look up close, much like one would examine a set of Sferra limited edition Burano sheets with a magnifying glass to view the thread count.

For all the bad news like accidents and murders, there are the Honor Roll and school lunch menus. If you’re lucky there’s a police log with not only arrests but regular police calls, which chronicle the often funny trials and tribulations of our local law enforcement officials. Here are some of today’s favorites:
• Police checked into a report of a suspicious package, clear cellophane containing white powder around mailboxes on Water Lane. Police determined the contents to be Lifesavers candy crushed by traffic.
• A resident notified police her horse had gone missing overnight and was located at a home in the vicinity of County Road and Durham Road at 5:55 a.m. The resident was waiting for assistance and expected to have the horse retrieved within 25 minutes.
• Animal nuisance, horse on front lawn, Partridge Lane, 11 a.m.
• Police assisted a person after her family reported the resident “out of control” all night, Durham Road, 7:17 a.m.
• People taking horseshoe crabs from the beach, likely without Fish & Game permit, reported on Seaside Avenue, 9:55 p.m
• Animal nuisance, horse loose in cul-de-sac, Partridge Lane, 2:41 p.m. The horse was back at its owner’s property before police arrived.

Follow-up stories provided no more info on the crabs, but the horse is now on probation.

Having traveled extensively throughout New England I’ve come up with a crazy idea. New Hampshire has a state bird (purple finch), a state tree (white birch), a state insect (ladybug) and even a state amphibian (red-spotted newt). Isn’t time for a state wine?

Yeah, it’s a stupid idea but it could catch on. My choice for New Hampshire’s state wine would be merlot. Not because they grow merlot grapes here, but because merlot is the perfect meld of urban and rural. It says we’re cosmopolitan enough to have parking problems in Manchester, yet granola enough to worry about pouring bacon grease down the drain and clogging the septic system in the cottage at Squam Lake. It goes to Fisher Cats games and concerts at the Palace. And it’s the one wine presidential candidates are comfortable with. It’s truly a wine of the people.

Suggested merlot — Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot ($14.99). Structured, dry with cran and elder berry fruit and the scent of leather and violets.

Maine’s a different story: State bird, the pigeon. State tree, pine. State animal, lobster. State fish, lobster. State insect, mosquito. Maine’s uptight and wild at the same time. They have laws about which fish you can keep in your tank, but it’s perfectly legal to sass and tease a moose. My nominee for Maine state wine ended up in a tie between coffee brandy and Olde English 800.

Vermont: State tree, the maple. State animal, Morgan Horse. State insect, honeybee. State wine, Chateau Longueville-Baron de Pichon Longueville ($41.99), a Pauillac that’s pricey from a great producer. I like this wine for Vermont because the Baron was poor but titled and he married a wealthy wine merchant’s daughter. He died and his title passed to his wife and her two sisters who always wore green (like the Green Mountain State) and had many, many cats.

Rhode Island: State animal, insect, fish and bird: the clam. State tree: Sumac. State motto: “We may be little, but we’re big on corruption!” State wine: Newport Vineyards Vidal Ice Wine ($32.49). This was very good and tasted like a great Niagara Ice Wine. Runner-up: Murphy-Goode Alexander Valley Fume Blanc ($13.98). Soft and ripe with pear and melon fruit and a touch of meadow grass on the finish. Served by nine out of 10 Newport mansion owners when they want to impress but are too cheap to pull something out of their wine cellar.

Massachusetts: State bird: chickadee. State flower: rose. State wine: anything with a hefty mark-up and a 10 percent state sales tax on it will do. I like Charles Cimicky “Trumps” Barossa Valley Shiraz — spicy, fragrant with plum, prune and mango fruit; $15.99 in New Hampshire, $21.99 across the border.

Connecticut: State flower: The Hedge Fund. State animal: jaguar. State insect: cockroach. State motto: “Road Construction Never Sleeps.” State wine: Cote Rotie, because it often sounds and looks better than it is.

6/21/2007 Forgot Dad? Bring booze.

6/14/2007 Jack & Jill and a pail of wine
6/7/2007 Our lady of the Rioja
5/24/2007 Breaking the fast
5/17/2007 What the best bears drink
5/10/2007It's OK to be pink
5/3/2007 In praise of tastings
4/26/2007 Invention-tini
4/19/2007 More 'Mas'
4/12/2007 Futures in a bottle
3/29/2007 Uneasy glass of spring
3/22/2007 Chateau de blech
3/8/2007 Finding new beauties
3/1/2007 Infatuation or addiction
2/15/2007 The extraordinary ordinary
2/8/2007 A glass of sweetness
2/1/2007 A glass of sweetness
1/25/2007 Ham it up
1/18/2007 Cheating on wine
1/11/2007 Burning down the tree
1/4/2007 New Year's hangover
12/28/2006 Sins of the vine
12/21/2006 Kissing frogs
12/14/2006 Wine for horrible friends
12/07/2006 Like dregs in the wine glass
11/30/2006 Gift of calmer shopping
11/23/2006 YouTube for YouWine
11/16/2006 Welcome to wine
11/9/2006 Fine art, supermarket wine
11/2/2006 The geography of grapes
10/26/2006 Please continue to hold
10/19/2006 The trouble with reds
10/12/2006 Making new friends
10/05/2006 TiVo-ing the wine
09/28/2006 From an unknown battle
09/21/2006 Toast to turkey
09/14/2006 Wine for life
09/07/2006 What are Malpeques, Alex?
08/31/2006 Hanging out wines
08/24/2006 Falling into new wine season
08/17/2006 Where has that wine been?
08/10/2006 Bringing out the dead
08/03/2006 The birth of a wine fop
07/27/2006 Slow process of maturation
07/20/2006 The pain of adolescent wines
07/13/2006 Nice day for a white wedding
07/06/2006 Scoring goals with booze
06/29/2006 Beer, it's what's for dinner
06/22/2006 A drink fit for a czar
06/15/2006 A summer of beer and fried clams
06/08/2006 Keep your cool, fool
06/01/2006 The social lubricant
05/25/2006 Water, water everywhere
05/18/2006 Big fat greek wine tasting
05/11/2006 Drinking to the end
05/04/2006 Schooled in the art of wine
04/27/2006 Make a wish
04/20/2006 Immigrant wines
04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
04/06/2006 Got milk?
03/30/2006 Throw a dart and there's wine
03/23/2006 A life of good wine
03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
03/09/2006 What once was old i new again
03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
02/02/2006 The winos' mecca
01/26/2006 Date-nite drinks
01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
10 Wines To Get Lucky With

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave
A Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting
A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
Finding A Great Medium Weight Drink (II)
Gifts for blood, love or money
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce