Leonetti Cellar 2005 Columbia Valley merlot

Do you really think those TSA advanced imaging technology units (scanners) are serving its purpose? Here’s a short history. The technology was originally developed back in 2007 and the first wave of whole-body units were activated in March of this year, after test trials. Tulsa was one of the first airports to implement the machines, which cost $170,000 each, fully paid with federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. This was TSA’s response in its ability to detect non-metallic explosives, after a Christmas Day, 2009 incident with a Detroit-bound  Northwest Airlines flight 253 where it originated in Amsterdam. The fool tried to ignite a powdery substance stitched into his underwear. Add to this the Richard Reid “shoe bomber” incident on American Airlines flight 63 back on Dec. 21, 2001 from Paris to Miami, and you know why the TSA is so damn paranoid. Fortunately, most of the flying public understands the need for this invasion of privacy.

Then again, do not always believe what you read. While the TSA states that precautions are taken to maintain the public’s confidence in these invasive procedures, there are incidents that make you wonder. On August 4, a body scanner operator in Denver was caught flogging his dolphin while in his booth. Then, there are the videos of inspectors basically groping children (whose parents also opt-out), which can be puzzling at the dinner table. “How was your day, hon?” “Terrific. I felt up 40 children. That Hello Kitty underwear is quite popular.” Then, there are those fake x-ray images showing a fully nude woman, with the caption being this is what the scanners project. A couple new catch phrases were born: “Don’t touch my junk!,” and “gate rape.” Finally, how ironic that the people who make the rules are EXEMPT from going through such procedures. Such is our world today…”do as I say, and not as I do.”

Thankfully, as your watchdog on all issues, I present to you choices for TSA’s new slogan. This is not a competition so please, no wagering…


(1) Can’t see London, can’t see France, unless we see your underpants.

(2) Grope discounts available.

(3) Only we know if Lady Gaga is really a lady.

(4) Don’t worry, my hands are still warm from the last guy.

(5) We’ve handled more balls than Barney Frank.

(6) We are now free to move about your pants.

(7) We rub you the wrong way so you can be on your way.

(8) It’s not a grope, it’s a freedom pat.

(9) When in doubt, we make you whip it out.

(10) Touchin’, Squeezin’, Arrestin’

(11) We handle more packages than UPS.

(12) You WERE a virgin.

Leonetti Cellar is Washington State’s founding cult winery, established in 1977. Among the earliest offerings were an estate riesling, chardonnay and a gewürztraminer. The winery recently met one of its goals where all of their wines (in a vintage year) were made solely from Walla Walla Valley grapes.

Recently, 2nd generation winemaker/CEO Chris Figgins has expanded the company to include another premier winery in Figgins Family Estates with its own 32-acre vineyard, and Lostine Cattle Co. The first wine will be offered in the fall, 2011 for a 2008 Figgins red blend of estate-grown cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot.

Gotta love this about Leonetti Cellar, and btw, it is CELLAR and not Cellars. (1) The label is mostly unchanged from the decades its been in business. Consistency and stability. (2) The waiting list to get on the mailing list is longer than the mailing list. Accumulated demand for an outstanding product. And (3) they only offer four wines: a cab, a merlot (since 1981), a reserve (since 2000), and a sangiovese (since 1995). Focus. Commitment. Legacy.

Tasted at 55-66 degrees on the IR temp gun. This is a badass, finessed, full throttle merlot with a long life ahead, despite ugly rumors that Leonetti wines don’t age well. Bullshit. A mesmerizing black cherry color in the Riedel, this offered up aromas of more persistent black cherries while maintaining its silkiness on the palate. An extremely long tail (>10 sec.) of cherry, raspberry, velvet tannins, blackberry, exotic spices, and fran’s dark chocolate slid slowly down a firm backbone of acid. Refined. Smooth. Unrelenting. As decadent as a hot stone massage on a blustery cold day.

Alcohol: 14.3%. 2900 cases. 85% merlot, 8% cab sau, 7% petit verdot. Vineyards: Mill Creek Upland, Loess, Estate Old Block, Pepper Bridge, Bacchus-Dionysus, and Wallula. Aged in new and 2nd fill French and American oak for 14 months. Rated: 94. Paid: $70. Value: $75. Music pairing: “You’ve Got What It Takes” by Marv Johnson. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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