Due Regazze Vineyards (JPB's Vines in Cameron Park, CA)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Time For a Rant-Congress is Trying to Limit Your Wine Choices

I am officially angry. I’ve taken the change in healthcare better than expected. I’ve endured financial reform, and I’m fully expecting to pay more in taxes. BUT Mr. or Mrs. Congressman, you’ve gone too far. I won’t let you cut my wine supply! As Will Farrell so eloquently stated in the kid classic “Kicking and Screaming”, I am TORNADO ANGRY!

Here’s the Reader’s Digest version on what is happening. In 2005, the Supreme Court made a landmark decision that freed the way for direct shipping of alcohol. This decision allowed winemakers and brewers the ability to directly ship to consumers in the 37 states who have left the Stone Age. By cutting out the wholesaler, consumers were rewarded with more choices, better wines, and lower prices. Now, fast forward five years to 2010 and you now find a bill covertly working its way through Congress that would reverse this decision. As Wine Spectator’s James Laube stated in his August write up, H.R. 5034 is a lose, lose, proposition. Wine lovers and small wineries alike will suffer if this bill is enacted into law.

Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Yet to date 135 lawmakers, the people who are supposed to make our lives better, have signed on to support the Bill. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi is on record as saying she won’t support H.R. 5034 and claims it won’t make it to debate without a similar law proposal in the Senate. Unfortunately, given Speaker Pelosi’s track record, her comments make me about as comfortable as Bambi on the opening day of deer season! In addition to Laube’s August column on H.R. 5034, Wine Spectator wrote a great piece on why this law is getting so much traction. Simply put, its “money”. Since 2005, special interest groups (as National Beer Wholesalers Association and Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America) have given over $11 million dollars to lawmaker’s campaign funds. Here’s my favorite part of this debacle; the name! It is known as the Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act (CARE). Ironically, H.R. 5034 has bipartisan support which again proves money can bring ANYONE together.

I’m probably the most apolitical person on the planet but like most red-blooded Americans, I hate to see something taken away from me that is only going to benefit a few. I’ve emailed my local Congressman and several others in California letting them know, they need to oppose this bill. I suggest you do the same.

Doug Shafer of Shafer Vineyards (one of my favorites in the whole wide world by the way) summed it up by saying, “Many wineries, including Shafer, are not distributed in all 50 states. Direct shipping is the only way many consumers can purchase our wines.” That said, below are some wines tasted, that may never get distributed if the CARE Act becomes law. Hey, forget The Tea Party! Right here and right now, lets sow the seeds for The Wine Party!

ROUND POND 2006 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon- Located in the heart of Napa Valley, The MacDonnel family has been putting out great wines, olive oils and gourmet foods since the 80’s. This wine caught my attention because of its value. Priced ~$50, it had all of the texture and complexity of a $100 dollar wine. I drained this one with my friend Crusty Old Mick, who is the self proclaimed honorary Mayor of Howell Mountain (known for their Giant Cabs), and he couldn’t stop talking about it. This was a great find.

M2 2007-Trio- This no-frills winery located in Lodi California has been making great wines for years. The Trio is their proprietary blend that changes from year to year and to me, its one of the best values priced at $22.00 dollars. The 2007 Trio is comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petite Sirah and is aged 17 months in American/French oak barrels. The Cabernet gives the Trio a nice structure and I picked up berry and plum flavors most likely from the Syrah. With an alcohol content of over 15.5%, I would definitely have it with a meal.

14 HANDS -2008 Chardonnay- The state of Washington continues to impress with well made wines at affordable prices. I noticed a crispness of green apple along with a hint of vanilla as well. I picked up a bit of oak in the finish and the winemaker confirms that 15% of the wine was oak fermented. Priced at $12 dollars, you don’t feel like you have to finish it. A nice find for the last days of summer.

JEFF RUNQUIST-2008 “R” Barbera Amador County- This guy makes great wine! I stumbled onto this wine a few years ago when I was deciding on what type of grapes to grow in my vineyard. Although this Italian varietal is seldom seen in California, one sip of the Runquist Barbera and I new that was the wine what I wanted to make (or try to make). This wine is loaded with fruit flavors with a nice toasted oak finish. I also noticed a hint of mocha and coffee flavor as well. Unlike many of the Barbera wines crafted in Italy, the Runquist Barbera seems to offer more body and depth. If you are a normal Cab/Merlot wine drinker, this might not be for you but at $24 a bottle, you might want to try something adventurous.