The CK Mondavi Scarlet Five and a souvenir edition of the Dec. 7th attack on Pearl Harbor

Mondavi Scarlet Five 2010
California | CK Mondavi.
I drink wine because I enjoy exploring its many, many variations. But sometimes I have a glass to either salute or mourn something. Tonight I mourn the newspaper industry. I raise a glass to those victims of the latest round of layoffs.

I’ve seen many friends lose their jobs at papers around the country over the past 4 years. Atlanta, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, here in Augusta and many, many other cities. Today I heard about the newsroom being gutted at the Times-Picayune . That was on top of the recent layoffs at the Birmingham News, Huntsville Times and the Mobile Press-Register. All are losing staff as they shift to 3 days-a-week publication in the Fall.

Eight-four of the 173 people currently employed in the Times-Picayune newsroom were notified Tuesday that would be gone in the Fall.

The Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile papers ran my photos from time to time when I was at Auburn. The $15 to $20 per assignment they paid was a fortune at the time.

I applied for a photo-internship at the Times-Picayune many years ago while I was at Auburn. Luckily they turned me down because the internship I landed at the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot was the best in the country as far as I’m concerned.

It saddens me. Today it’s digital first. I have lots of nostalgic souvenirs that won’t mean diddly to today’s generation. I rescued from the trash the button that was on the wall in the Roanoke Times that was used to “stop the presses.” Nowadays no one remembers what it means to stop the presses. Looks like they might be stopping for good soon.

I also have an old fedora that was found in a locker that hadn’t been opened in 30 years. They started ripping out the old lockers in the men’s room at the Roanoke Times and it held a small treasure trove. The fedora looks real cool. Real newspapermen back in the old days wore fedoras.

I also found an old photographer’s negative stash in the locker. There were some 4×5 negatives of a smiling young nude woman in a graveyard. The cars in the background dated the negatives to the late 40’s-early 50’s. Photographers used to take potential photo rookies to graveyards to teach “depth of field.” They would take pictures of the rows of gravestones to show how the aperture settings affect the range of focus. And it was secluded so if the young rookie could be persuaded maybe they might shed some clothes and model.

(For the record I’m talking way back. I never tried that. Or least I never got beyond the photo lesson).

I opted to not show the negatives around the newsroom because I was afraid it might be someone’s mother or grandmother (“Hey Joe, isn’t this your mother?”)

Oh yeah, there’s a wine review in here somewhere.

Tonight I toast my fellow newsmen with Mondavi Scarlet Five. I thought something Scarlet was appropriate because of the bloodletting. And to boot it’s a 1.5 liter bottle and instead of the usual $9.99 price at Vineyard Wine Market someone gave me the bottle for doing them a favor. Sweet. I like drinking for free.

CK Mondavi Scarlet Five 1.5 Liter
CK Mondavi Scarlet Five

This wine is sitting in the spot at the store where the Mondavi Field Blend had been sitting. It kind of reminds me of that wine but the Field Blend was a Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Syrah blend.

To my palate the Petit Verdot and the Cabernet Franc are the “tuning” flavors more than the Merlot. It reminds me of some nice French food wines. I had it with $5 pizza from Little Ceasar’s and it fit pretty good. Mrs. Dan liked it.

This is not an extruded over the top fruit forward wine. The tannins and acidic structure sits on top of the dark fruit flavors. I tend to drink over the top fruit forward wines too fast to enjoy their nuances. This wine makes me slow down. The long finish is very dry and mineraly. A very dark purplish red. Light doesn’t easily pass through.

The breakdown on the label is Cabernet Sauvignon 55%, Merlot 28%, Petit Verdot 13%, Cabernet Franc 3% and Malbec 1%. The label also says “Scarlet Five is our winemakers signature cuvee, an expression of five red varieties capturing the best of each vintage. It has the backbone of Cabernet, the finesse of Merlot, the structure of Petit Verdot, the floral essence of Cabernet Franc and the boldness of Malbec This full-bodied wine offers flavor of black cherries and plums and ends in a soft, balanced finish.”

I’ll agree to the black cherry flavor. I would not describe this as having a soft finish. Like I said before I think the finish starts getting drier and drier. Almost like alum does.

I just happened to try some Publix artichoke & jalepeno dip and took a sip. If you like a dip with a kick to it you got to try it. When I tried some with the Scarlet Five it becomes a very fruit forward wine. Now you can taste more of the Cab and the Merlot. It tastes like a totally different wine. This wine would probably go great with some spicy or marinated meats.

So, I like this wine. For a minute or so I forgot about my lament on the newspaper industry.

I also had another dose of reality. I was real excited that I found a copy of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin from Pearl Harbor Day at an estate sale next door. Imagine buying such a historic paper for only $3. I offered to give it to a friend who was actually in Pearl Harbor as a child when the Japanese attacked. He was excited.

When I started writing this review I got to thinking about how newspapers have been an important part of American history. I had reverently put the paper to the side, keeping it in the protect plastic so not to harm it. I took the paper out to read, holding it gingerly to keep from wrinkling its old yellowed pages. I’m old newspaper man. I’ve been in pressrooms off and on for the past 40 years. I’ve come to know a lot about printing technology. I know that presses from the 40’s used direct printing from lead plates. The paper came in contact with the plate and left slight impressions in the paper. You could almost feel the type. I realized that the type on the front page was not sharp. The text was not impressed. This was printed on an offset press. I flipped it to the back and found a picture of the Japanese signing the surrender papers on the USS Missouri. Then I found an ad for the Arizona Memorial. I paid $3 for a reprint from the 1980’s.

I have to laugh, although sadly, that one day in the near future one last single offset newspaper press will reprint special anniversary editions of publications’ final print edition. Teachers will amaze students about people reading large printed pages instead of individual stories on an iPad.

All of a sudden I feel old. I think I’ll have another glass of Scarlet Five.



  1. Dave Hofmeister Reply

    Dan, as a victim of poor newspaper management, I am glad to be out of the business. I truly feel for those left behind as this Titanic of a business slips below the waves. lots of good people suffering and I hope they find meaningful work and success.
    Enjoy your reviews and comments …

  2. Tonight I tried this blend from the 2011 vintage, and the meal was a spicy, vegetable ‘goulash’, served with hot chibatta bread on the side: the combination was EXCELLENT! I will definitely secure more of this “Scarlet Five” in the future, perhaps for the next time my wife makes her home-made tomato & broccoli pizza!

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