It has been six months since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws in New York and Michigan, but contrary to some of the more optimistic media reports at the time of that decision, many Americans are still a long way from enjoying the freedom to buy wine direct from a winery or wine shop by mail order or on the Internet.
Across the nation, a similar patchwork of responses prevails, with a few states (Ohio and Connecticut, among others) having eased anti-shipping regulations, while a few states (including Indiana) having extended the shipping ban to cover in-state producers as well as outside companies). The debate continues in other states (Pennsylvania among them), while Kentucky and many others have taken no public action at all.
Early accounts from wine country suggest that the changes have had little overall impact on the wine-industry economy so far. Last week, for instance, the Stockton (Calif.) Record reported that local wine producers have seen little if any increase in Internet wine sales since the Court's 5-4 decision on May 16. For the full story, click
Many in the industry had hoped to see Internet and mail-order commerce light up the coming holiday season; but with the natural glacial pace of legislation further slowed by well-financed wine- and liquor-distribution lobbyists.
As the winter holiday buying season approaches, we thought it would be interesting to devote a Wine Lovers' Voting Booth "ballot" to the question, "Are you buying more wine online?" To vote:
The ballot offers you the options of voting yes or no and noting whether you live in a state where the wine-shipping laws have or have not changed, or if you live outside the U.S.
Once you have cast your ballot, the software will immediately add your entry to the list. You can use this link to check the current totals:
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Barbadillo non-vintage Oloroso Sherry "Full Dry" ($11.99)
Strong and naturally oxidized in a unique wine-making process, Spain's Sherry is so utterly different from most table wines that it divides wine enthusiasts into opposing camps: Those who say "Yay!" and those who say "Yuk!" Mark me in the "Yay" column, particularly when summer fades into chilly, blustery autumn and something as rich and warming as this Oloroso provides a taste of comfort. Clear bronze in color, it shows flashes of orange against the light. Classic Sherry aromas remind me of fresh cracked nuts, intriguing scents that speak of pecans and hazelnuts and just a touch of darker, heavier walnuts and a whiff of maple syrup in the background. Pecans come to the fore on the palate, with hints of milk chocolate as a more subtle back note in a rich, full-bodied texture that seems slightly sweet at first but dries out completely in the finish, nicely framed with crisp fresh-fruit acidity. Pecans and a tang of lemon linger in a very long finish. U.S. importer: Frontier Wine Imports, Dover, N.J. (Oct. 31, 2005)
FOOD MATCH: In a brilliant match-likes-with-likes pairing, it made an amazing match with a nutty, buttery three-year-old Vintage Gouda cheese.
VALUE: Assuming you are in the "Yay" camp, Sherries remain among the world's great wine bargains. At just a buck or two over $10, this one's a fine value; not, however, that I got mine at a shop notorious for full-price retail or above (Whole Foods Wine Shop); you may be able to find it for well under $10, at which price it's a true no-brainer.
WHEN TO DRINK: In its nature, Sherry is very long-lived, in the cellar, on the wine rack or even in an open bottle on the counter. It may not really evolve with age, but you can keep it safely for years in the sealed bottle and for several weeks in an open bottle.
For more background on Sherry, see my February 2004 article, To Warm a Winter Night,
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
The California Wine Club Signature Series:
Phelps Insignia Finally Released!
The California Wine Club's Signature Series is proud to present the Joseph Phelps 2002 Insignia "Napa Valley" Red Wine as part of this month's extraordinary selections. This legendary Bordeaux-style wine has an interesting twist with each release. This vintage is a blend of 78 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 14 percent Merlot, 7 percent Petite Verdot and 1 percent Malbec.
With a 96-point rating from both Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator, this Insignia is described as rich, dense and deeply concentrated with an exotic nose and extravagant fruit. It is included this month with a Century Oak 2002 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and a Collier Falls 2002 Zinfandel "Private Reserve."
Don't miss these rare, limited-production gems. Call 800-777-4443 or order online at
This week on WineLoversPage.com
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Italian Wine Guide: Hidden Valtellina
WebWineMan: Pinot Noir - What's All the Fuss?
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Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
Veterans Day (Nov. 11, 2005)
REDS (Nov. 9, 2005)
California red blends (Nov. 7, 2005)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: The pork chop dilemma (Nov. 10, 2005)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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Monday, Nov. 14, 2005