Airline Wines: Service is good and the price is right

On my way back from Indiana, American Airlines was kind enough to provide tastings of a few onboard wines. The Callaway California Merlot, Cellar Selection Vintage 2006, 13.5% alcohol, proved much more drinkable than the aroma first emanating from that teensy apĂ©ritif glass which the airline uses. Grapes sourced from Monterey and Lodi are aged in French and American oak for between 3-6 months, says the back label. Chilled by airline storage, it took a while to open up (as much as a red will open up with a 2" glass aperature…). Yes, there is a bit of vanilla in this wine per the label and it is wonderfully clean with moderate tannin. Nice selection. I really enjoyed the label notes too, good job Callaway! They give kudos to their guiding winemaker Robert Pepi, noting that he pioneered the "Two Heart Canopy" trellising system. It's good to see vineyard practices like this noted; having sat in on two horticultural congresses recently (Kentucky and Indiana), I know these guys are unsung heros all too frequently. The flight attendant pointed out the saying printed on the cork (which almost obscured the fact that they are using a less expensive 1+1 instead of a full cork…) and that was "Water separates the people of the world, wine unites them". A comment particularly appropro of the coming water wars as California faces a HUGE drought this next season. Price: two upgrade coupons IND to DFW.

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