In a world that is obsessed with pushing boundaries and shining lights into the darkest, most obscure corners, it’s easy to forget about the brilliance in the everyday. I am guilty of this, in my surge to expose the weird and wonderful, I often ignore the well-worn and ordinary. Lately, I’ve been trying to push boundaries and try as much new as I possibly can, but I have to admit that there is something about that comfortable familiarity that makes you wonder why you try to do new things. Why try another California Chardonnay when you can try an obscure Greek wine? Why go to bed early and get a good rest for work tomorrow when you can crawl home at five in the morning with enough time to sleep through the worst of your hangover? Why indeed. Well, we do it because it’s fun (mostly), but that doesn’t mean we can’t revel in the comfort of the known. Burrowing Owl Winery in Oliver, British Columbia embraces one of the most ordinary, (and much maligned) grapes and raises it to a new height with their 2009 Merlot.
The 2009 Merlot was a present from my mother’s recent trip to Calgary. I have to admit, I haven’t tried as much BC wine as I would like and while I can say that about most wine regions of the world, it’s most true in this case. I’m not sure if it was the fault of all the thirsty people between Ontario and BC, or government regulation (which was recently repealed) but there really wasn’t a huge selection of BC wine available to me and most of it wasn’t cheap. Anyway, Burrowing Owl is by no means a small winery, they produce about 30,000 cases annually and have some 140 acres of vineyards but this was the first time I would actually get to try any of their stuff. I served this wine with a classic roast beef and I must say I was blown away from my first sniff. Rich and opulent, but still with some good structure. Sure, this was comfortable Merlot, but it was like no other Merlot I had ever tried.
So Merlot isn’t exactly the sexiest wine, but does it have to be? The answer, for me anyway, is no. I do get all hot and bothered about something weird, but I am most impressed by the great examples of classics, and this is one. Truly impressive, and probably not a wine that I would picked for myself. There is always a time and a place for the new and exciting, but for the rest of the time, embrace the richness of familiarity and celebrate your solitude.