The Monthly Wine Writing Challenge is upon us again, and this time the theme is “local.” Some of the themes actually write themselves, while other themes cause pondering. The word local is bandied about in many industries. In the restaurant world local is used to mean that the food being served is harvested from nearby farms, or the meat is from nearby ranches, here in Michigan there are now “local” estuaries that have been man-made for the farming of shrimp. Wine can even be considered local, but alas I live in the suburbs of Detroit and there are no local wineries, there are plenty of fine Michigan wineries, but I do not consider a three or four hour drive local. Though in my immediate area in the Detroit area we do have local craft beers, vodka, whiskey and even mead; which are becoming the booming darling industry of the moment, we do not have vineyards and wineries.
I think of local, in a different manner, perhaps it is because I have always been in the retail industry. To me local is different, I like local merchants. Local butcher shops, fish mongers, specialty markets, wine shops and even local grocers are great sirens to me. They may be slightly higher in cost, or as my Canadian relatives would say “more dear,” I believe they work harder to gain your confidence and trust. I have had my butcher talk me out of a particular cut of meat, because he is not happy with the delivery that he took, I find that refreshing and honest.
When we are traveling on holidays I like to go to local restaurants, because I can hopefully experience the food of an area, though that is getting harder and harder, because the chain restaurants are tending to dominate certain areas. I mean once you have eaten at “X” steak house, you know that if you visit another one in a distant city, the layout, the décor, the menu and even the wine list will be almost similar. I like the mystique of a local merchant, no matter what venue of business he or she is in. So I am old fashioned, and I know it. There are times when we are on holidays that I may light up a cigar and amble down a downtown street, while my Bride will wander from store front to store front looking for that perfect what ever she is looking for. If she finds it, she will come to the front door of the store and model it for me, looking for my approval, because after all, shopping is like a “busman’s holiday” for me.
All of this meandering leads me to a local clothier that I go to. They have clothing on the racks, and if one is willing, one can even order clothing “off the peg” that charming English term for custom clothing. The reason that I enjoy a local clothier over a department store, which I have even tried working at once, is that an independent clothier has selected a certain look that epitomizes what he thinks is what fine clothing should be. It is not the “cookie-cutter” look of the chains where they offer two or three garments by the hundreds so that out of the next hundred customers, probably two thirds will end up with the same coordinated outfit, not much originality in that. Yes I am a boulevardier and I enjoy wearing clothes that are my style, even if they are not the current rage. For an example I always wear dress shirts with French Cuffs, because I like to wear cuff-links, so I have my shirts made, which saves me considerable time shopping, but it does make it more difficult for my Bride to buy me clothing.
So why am I rambling on about a local clothier? It is simple. My local clothier not only offers me a fine array of choices for my attire, but he can also quench my thirst. He offers six different beers, with only one brand that is not imported. He also offers bottles of water, and he even thinks he is a barista because one can get coffee and a few specialty coffee drinks as well. Though my favorite type of beverage can also be enjoyed while shopping, and he can do this, because the beverages are complimentary for his buying clientele. In fact there have been times when several regulars are there at the same time, and the buying make take a momentary back seat to the camaraderie of the imbibing shoppers.
The other day, there were a couple of wines to enjoy, out of the many, both white and red. While none of the wines offered are first growths, it is an eclectic mix and the choices are always different. There was a sparkling wine Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Cuvee NV from South Australia. This is not a premier bubbly, but it is refreshing, even though it is labeled a Brut, I would call it a Demi-Sec, but that is just me. So actually the wine pays homage to Jacob’s Creek, site of Johann Gramps first vineyard in the Barossa Valley of South Australia. Epilogue Red Wine 2010 is from the Paso Robles area, though Envolve Winery is based in Sonoma. This wine is a classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Merlot and spent fourteen months in French Oak before bottling. It was a very smooth and enjoyable red blend wine and it retails at a very reasonable price. The wine is a good Bordeaux blend, which was labeled “Red Wine” as the winery elected not to join the Meritage Society, or so I presume. In all of the twists and by-ways of my thought process, the theme of local eventually brought me to wine and a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours adding to my wardrobe.