Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Arbor Crest or Arbor Mist?

The other day I was watching one of my favorite channels, "Food Network", and an advertisement came on about Arbor Mist wines. What? In delicious flavors of "Cranberry Mist White Merlot", "Island Fruit Pinot Grigio", "Melon White Zinfandel" and other names too precious to mention. Deja vu! Is this the return of Annie Green Springs Peach Creek and Strawberry Hill? The last time I had a sip of Peach Creek was in my youth at a Maria Muldaur concert grooving (yes, "grooving.") to the words of "...send your camel to bed...let's slip off to a sand dune...I know your Daddy's a sultan."

All of a sudden panic set in me! Oh no! I was on a wine message board earlier that day writing about some excellent Washington state wines I had enjoyed over the Memorial Day weekend. Two of the wines were from one of my favorite (I have many) wineries! The name of the winery is Arbor Crest in Spokane. Will my wine board peers think that I am drinking the Kool-Aid swill from Arbor Mist? Will I lose all of the respect that I have gained about wines? Are they messaging each other now with endless "LOL"s about me drinking Arbor Mist wines?

"We always knew she was the kind who enjoyed a Mogan-David Wine Spritzer." "I would love to be a cellar rat in the corner when she goes into a Washington state winery and asks for a White Merlot."

I immediately rushed back to the message board and cleared up the fact that I enjoyed the Arbor Crest wines from Spokane and wanted to make sure that Arbor Mist and Arbor Crest were not the same. Whew! It was okay. It turned out it was only my wine snob paranoia setting in. My peers said they understood.

Arbor Crest Winery is in Spokane and started in 1985. Their historic winery was built in 1925 by Royal Newton Riblet, an eccentric inventor. The three-story Florentine house is surrounded by an arched gatekeeper's house, sunken rose garden, open-air pagoda, terraced flower and herb gardens, and a life-sized checkerboard. At one time a passenger tram ran from his estate to the river valley 450 feet below. The Arbor Crest Sauvignon Blanc has always been one of my favorite wines. Always good, always showing true Sauvignon Blanc characteristics and always affordable. We also opened a bottle of 2002 Arbor Crest Cabernet Franc. A good wine with typical Cab Franc characteristics showing through, however I noticed a bit of brettanomyces in the finish. With a little time and air the brett seemed less noticeable. Pairing the wine with warm chocolate chip cookies, fresh out of the oven and made with a pound of butter, didn't hurt either. While some wine afficianados view brett as a fault, I happen to enjoy a bit of brett in some wines, but that is another wine blog.

Who is this Arbor Mist and where does it come from? I assumed California. Poor California, they get the blame for most untraditional wines. I mean, come on - "White Zin?" Boy was I surprised and then again I really wasn't when I discovered the headquarters for this wine came from Canandaiqua, New York. Canandaiqua! Of course, home of many labels - such as Woodbridge, Inglenook, Almaden, Manischewitz, Wild Irish Rose, Paul Masson and other nostalgic labels. What I was really curious about was the alcohol percentage and the actual percentage of real vitis vinifera that went into these exotic wine blends. That info must be a secret.

Now I can't explain this, but one morning I woke up with a different attitude about this new adult Kool-aid. I must have been dreaming of camels, sand dunes and sultans to have such a change of heart. I suppose every generation needs their Strawberry Hill, Annie Green Springs, and once in awhile a young man would try to impress his date with a bottle of Lancers. Years later came the Bartles & Jaymes, 2 liter bottles of Sun Country wine coolers and boxed Almaden for those special nights when a guy wanted to impress his date.

So now is the time for Arbor Mist and those exotic flavors of "Goofy Grape Cabernet Sauvignon", "Peanut Butter Pinot Noir" and "Minty Fresh Merlot." It even comes in unbreakable bottles and personal size (375 ml). Perfect for those Gwen Stefani concerts while listening to "...arty flirty red wine drinking...Chicks dat blew ya mind, ding...I rock the Fetish people."

With a heavy sigh, I concede. The youngsters get a break about their wine like I did, many moons ago. However, as they move on in life, let us pray to Bacchus that there will be bottles of Arbor Crest instead of Arbor Mist served at their future dinner parties. After all, not all "Arbor's" are created equal.