Here's an intersting bargain wine: the 2005 R.H. Phillips Night Harvest Chardonnay, grown by a Canadian company in the Dunnigan Hills AVA, California. (That site doesn't have a lot of info, just a promo for this 25th anniversary wine. Here's the link for the winery's main site.) Does the night harvesting make a difference? I don't know enough about viticulture to comment, though ostensibly it's probably more useful than burying a bull's horn full of manure during a full moon. (I'll save my rants on biodynamic wines for a time when I'm hungry for angry e-mails.)
I've used the R.H. Phillips Chardonnay a lot in the past as a cooking wine, though it drinks well on its own. Those bottles had the odd combination of a screwcap with a promotional cork tied to the neck pointing out the... lack of a cork. The Night Harvest comes with a black synthetic cork. I've got nothing against synthetic corks or other alternative enclosures, but the black plastic cork looks like a stopper replacement for some plumbing assembly. I'll take neon yellow over black any day.
Back to the wine. Sweet, buttery oak Chardonnay aroma, but fairly dry on the palate. Flavors of apples and pears dominate. Strong acidity, medium finish. I've had it multiple ways: with some old tomato-fennel soup I had in the freezer, with leftover shrimp-pesto pasta, and finally with some cheese ravioli. It worked well in all cases without particularly standing out. Considering I bought it for $6, I'd consider it a good purchase all around.
In good spirits towards the night theme, I took the photo next to the eyepiece of my circa 1985 Edmund Scientific reflecting telescope. I got this around that year from my paternal grandfather, who had purchased and assembled it that summer. It's one of the clearest memories of my youth: standing in the backyard of my grandparents' house, beside the strawberry patch, gazing through that little black eyepiece and seeing the rings of Saturn with my own eyes.
Over the years I've kept it out as a conversation piece, though when the weather is clear and the season is right, I like to pull it out and look at the mountains of the Moon, the dark bands of Jupiter, the fuzzy red blur of Mars, and any other interesting points within the celestial realm.