Up, Up and Chardonnay!

It's getting hot in here!Once again I found myself wedged into a cramped Alaska Airlines seat on a quick weekend trip to groovy Eugene, Oregon.  If you’ve flown on the Q-400 you know exactly what I’m talking about.   And you also know that the only thing that makes up for the less than ideal seating arrangements is the free in-flight wine!   It also helps to have a couple of good-humored flight attendants from Montana, who  believe one glass is never sufficient.  After the third sampling, it became clear it was a good thing I wasn’t seated in the exit row.  Before takeoff, our comical attendants taught us how to buckle the seat belt we had already managed just fine and how to show them off as if they were prizes in a rodeo when they passed by.
Flight-Attendant Barbie serving chardonnay

We’d barely reached altitude and it was time for beverages and snacks. I have yet to figure out why they call those minuscule packets of pretzels and crackers with flax seeds, “snacks”.  Seriously, I consider anything less than a handful, a bite. Brad is convinced they are simply to cleanse the palate after chewing gum. Although he also described them as frequent flyer communion wafers. “Forgive me father, for I have chosen to fly coach.”

Three “Hail Naomis” for our flight attendant with the wine.  I glanced out the tiny oval frame at the breathtaking pinky peach sunset flecked with lavender and gold while listening to the constant hum of propellers and low conversation, broken by the occasional displeasure from the infant four rows back. Naomi and Diana made the rounds with a trash bag while I maintained a death grip on my mile-high plastic wine cup.  My lips were getting numb and fingers more nimble as my pen drifted across the lines of Brad’s steno pad.   My toes tingled.  This wine and I were feelin’ fine.

I swirled my cup as if it were my favorite wine glass and took another sip of my Sycamore Lane Chardonnay.  Holding it up to the window, it resembled a urine sample more than anything else through the milky plastic.  But with its mild spice, it was bright and smooth with a soft finish.   This chardonnay is a melody of crisp tart apples, with hints of peach and pear.  The flavor floods the palate with instant gratification and a burst of citrus.  Unlike the poorly recycled air in the cabin, this wine isn’t dry or stale.

Sycamore Lane Chardonnay hails from Trinchero Family Estates and is made from grapes found in California’s most prolific wine regions.  These are the fine folks who purchased Sutter Home in 1947 and went on to develop the ever popular White Zinfandel.  This family’s wine making legacy has rapidly expanded over the last 60 years and to date, they represent over 27 wine brands in the United States and Australia.  Despite the overwhelming success, they have tried to stay true to Sutter Home’s fundamental value to offer “a great product for a fair price.”   Although their website states you cannot find this wine in your local supermarket, I was able to find it online through various wine exchanges ranging from $4.99 to around $14 a bottle.

A couple of hours and a connecting flight later, the view from my window had dramatically changed from the brilliantly colored sunset to snowy mountaintops and blankets of cotton clouds resting gently on evergreens much like a layer of batting from one of my grandmother’s handmade quilts.

With the final tip of my cup, the last rush of fruity intensity gave way to a flickering city with rope-light roadways cutting through the grid below. It was the end of another short journey, but the start to a budding new weekend and a fruitful relationship with a certain chardonnay.

SipQuip:  Melody of crisp tart apples, peach and pear with a burst of citrus. Clean and bright with mild spicy flavor. Fruity with a soft finish.

Aromatique:   Light fruity scent.  Intensity in the flavor not in the smell.

Kitchen Couplings:  Pasta, fish, poultry, Swiss or other flavorful white cheeses — or frequent flyer communion wafers.

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