Is that a rocket in your pocket?

Producing delectable wine making grapes requires protecting vines from meteorological menaces like hail. Of course, it isn’t easy to defend yourself from the sky unless you
happen to be Swiss.

Since the 18th Century, Swiss farmers have stood ready to confront brooding storm clouds with a first strike capability of rockets kept ready at strategic points. One Swiss farmer, Ernst Spoehel explains: You can see the front coming, and when you have the feeling that danger is near, you start to shoot. And not just once! Having lived in Switzerland for 2+ years, I can attest to watching dozens of rockets streak into the heavens near the shores of Lake Geneva, exploding amongst the clouds in an attempt to subdue the icy threat. The rockets are
fitted with packets of silver iodide, which in theory causes moisture to crystallize into small bits of ice that fall harmlessly to the ground, before it can form larger more destructive hail. Who knew a bottle of wine could have such a history of violence behind it?


Wine from Switzerland? And White Merlot?

Egads, the world must be coming to an end! Now, as strange as a White Merlot, and one from Switzerland at that, sounds, the wine geek in me could not pass up this bottle of wine. I saw it on the menu and went, huh, White Merlot? Now that’s a new one. And to me it is, I had never heard of such a thing.

We ventured to Il Porto Ristorante with my inlaws last week in Old Town, Alexandria. We haven’t really had the time (or money) to check out many restaurants in our ‘hood yet, but we were in the mood for Italian and they had open tables when we wanted, so off we went. And not a bad choice at all! The food was very tasty and reasonably priced, I had the fettucini alfredo. I know, a heart attack on a plate, yada yada yada, but I really don’t care, I love the stuff and only get it perhaps twice a year.

The wine was a Ticino Chiar di Luna 2005 Bianco di Merlot. It is from V&D Angelo Delea SA, Losone-Swizzera. I gathered from the label that it is from the Italian Alps region of Switzerland. I had heard that wine was made in Switzerland, but that it was so little they didn’t really export. So color me surprised to find this on the wine list of a tiny Italian restaurant in Northern Virginia.

The wine was 12% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure. The nose was reserved, showing a slight sweet floral aroma. In the mouth the wine was light and fruity with tropical fruits. It was pleasant and tasty and otherwise hard to describe. The wine was easy to drink and made me think of fruit drinks with ice on the porch. I’d say it’d be a decent valued at the $10-$15 price point and certainly worth trying as an oddity. White Merlot???