27 January 2006

Wherever the Catholic Sun Doth Shine
or, Saints, Commercial Art, and California History

As Lizzy suggested, celebrate Mozart's birthday with a cupcake! Tomorrow, however, is the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, and I would heartily suggest celebrating with wine. Somehow, I think St. Thomas would approve. I know for sure that Hilaire Belloc would approve, and who am I to disagree with him? Even Jesus knew good wine when he miracled it into existence.

I've long been interested in wine. Being from Napa, it's the kind of cultural thing that you can't escape. Now that I'm actually of age (by the way, I think the drinking age thing is a really stupid law--I followed it anyway, but I think it's stupid), I can buy it for myself, but before I could buy it and drink it, I used to follow my dad around in the liquor and grocery stores to look at the pretty labels and laugh at the interesting names people give to their wineries.

Some of the wines whose labels and names I've been eyeing are ones I have yet to try. But the reason tomorrow's feast put this subject into my mind is that I was eyeing a bottle at Safeway from Aquinas in Napa (because of the frame, you have to click around a bit). I'll let you know how it works out. A friend of my mom's taught August Sebastiani, who's a partner in Aquinas, at the local Catholic high school, and said he was quite bright, but excessively dramatic. Another winery with a fun name (whose product I haven't spotted outside California yet) is Madrigal Vineyards. They have a nice label, with the word "Madrigal" superimposed on a five-line music staff. I solemnly swear that I will someday purchase their wine, if only because the label appeals to the renaissance musician in me. [Yellow Tail], a popular Australian winery, makes decent wine and is actually affordable for college students (as the testimonial from the students at Boston College, er, testifies). They have a really fun label with a kangaroo on it.

One of my favorite wine labels of all time is from Gundlach Bundschu winery in Sonoma, CA (I blogged about a picnic I had there last summer). It's on their special blended wine, called "Bearitage" ("meritage" is the usual name for a blended wine), and depicts a golden bear with a huge chalice in one paw and a bunch of grapes in the other, which he holds over his mouth. This is particularly appropriate to the area, since it was in Sonoma that the Bear Flag Revolt--in which Californians threw off Mexican rule--happened. So, the symbol of California is shown enjoying a good vintage. Yay! (By the way, GB does make some really good wines--they're one of my dad's favorites, and he's pretty picky.)

Here's another cool label for a meritage: St. Supery winery's Elu blend. Incidentally, if you ever visit Napa, make a stop at St. Supery. They have a lovely exhibit about wine and the history of wine in Napa, which can be viewed free of charge, in addition to their nice wines. Celebrate St. Thomas (heck, just celebrate--Lent will be here before you know it!), drink wine (with temperance), and have a good time, because, hey, we're Catholic! As my patroness, St. Teresa of Avila, put it, "Good Lord deliver us...from sour-faced saints."

Update: Lizzy and I enjoyed a merlot from Camelot yesterday. I adore the label! The little reduction of the story of Camelot (something trite about Lancelot, Guinivere, Arthur, and a round table) is quite silly, but the illuminated "C" (which also appears on the cork) is pretty, and I like the bright, simple colors. Incidentally, the website says their 2003 merlot was listed as a Best Value in both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. I liked it--it was a little sweet, and didn't overshadow the brownies we had for dessert.

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