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dot A CASE OF INSIGNIAdot

To: winetrader@aol.com,

My wife and I visited Joseph Phelps Winery in 1988 and through a misunderstanding between us, we now have a case of the subject wine. First we swore to open a bottle on each anniversary and share it with appreciative guests. Our first guest, our local wine merchant, had a heart attack and could not attend. We delayed opening a bottle, and something every year prevented our drinking of the wine. Now we are retired and realize that we should sell it. Do you know anyone who would be interested in it? It has always been stored in our air-conditioned home, and the wine is still in its original styrofoam packaging

My email address is hnseiger@juno.com.

Yours truly,

Harvey N. Seiger

Dear Mr. Seiger,

It's not too late to begin following your original plan...the wine is just beginning to get really, really good (Insignia likes to be at least ten years old). Even as retired folks, the few hundred bucks you might get for the wine would soon disappear...a dozen separate memories from opening each bottle would be more valuable in the long run. What the heck! Drink one on each anniversary, one on your birthday and one on hers...it'll be gone in no time and you'll be wishing you had another case. You can't afford to buy these kind of taste experiences.

If you're determined to sell, The Wine Trader offers free classifieds to its subscribers (only $18 a year if you are not currently one) to offer wines for sale or swap, or whatever. Good luck whatever you decide...

óThe Wine Curmudgeon

dotCOFFEE TABLE QUALITY?dot

Dear Jerry,

I enjoy the upgraded quality of The Wine Trader magazine. It looks more stylistic on my coffee table

Rick Lebel
Altadena, California

Dear Rick,

You've really got me worried now. See, we've always been the magazine that went to "the library" (aka the john) or into the briefcase, where magazines go that people really read, and we've always made fun of "coffee table" magazines. We're going to have to rethink this entire glossy cover thing...don't want to be spoiled by success and a pretty face.

óJ.D.M.

dotOLD FRIENDS, OLD WINEdot

Dear Jerry,

I believe the last issue of the Wine Trader is the best ever. Your ad regarding my wine helped me sell most of my inventory of oldies and goodies, except for a few especially good wines I will enjoy and comfort me in my old age...notably some 1968 Mastroberardino's, bottles of which Irelished and enjoyed prior to reading about your dining with Signor Carlo Mastroberardino in Reno.

I am sending you one of the last few bottles of this 1968 wine for your remembrance and enjoyment.

Your old friend,
Dino Barengo
Reno, Nevada

Dear Dino,

Glad we could help you sell off your excess inventory. I have considerably more than I can drink in my lifetime as well, but I'm sure my leftovers won't go to waste considering that Sandra has instructions to throw one killer wine tasting wake when I go, and then there's the matter of children and grandchildren who will no doubt survive me...though I've always said I ain't goin' until I pull the last cork and the little buggers can buy their own.

Your gift of the goodie from Mastroberardino is very kind and I'm looking for a special occasion at which to open it very soon. Can I still claim that our consumer classifieds are free since you paid off so handsomely?

óJ.D.M.

dotOFFER SHE CAN'T REFUSE?dot

Dear Jerry,

In response to a letter from Ms. DiFrances in your issue Volume Q, No. 6, I wish to make a short comment. I knew the Novitiate Winery very well. I visited the winery on numerous occasions while I lived in the Bay Area. I will spare you a long story.

What is interesting is the letter which made a reference to the Novitiate Sherry. By a strange turn of fate, I found this bottle of Novitiate Dry Sherry in my cabinet. I hope it is still drinkable since the alcohol content on the label seems adequate.

The final point is that if you put me in contact with Ms. DiFrances, I will be happy to part with the Sherry and will provide all historical information which I know.

Sincerely,
Joe Laurinovics
tajkat@idt.net

Dear Joe,

How very generous of you. You tempt me to ask a question about Stag's Leap Wine Cellars of 20 years ago and see if you come up with a 1975 Cabernet for my pleasure. If Ms. DiFrances sees this and wants to take advantage of your kind offer, I will note that you are a safe person to be in contact with, are personally known to me, are happily married and are not an axe murderer...just a nice guy offering to share a bottle and a memory.

óJ.D.M.

dot HE WROTE FLORIDA GOVERNORdot

Jerry,

For several years a former colleague of mine been passing his copy of the Wine Trader to me after it's been read. I thoroughly enjoy your irreverence for the accepted practices of state legislators, wine retailers, wine distributors. Some legislators and businesses seem to take advantage of the general consumer without conscience. I take this personally and find it appalling

I consider you to be a welcome bit of fresh air. There are not many consumer advocates that are able to articulate the issues as well, without getting personal. I commend you for your efforts.

I occasionally write letters to companies and government offices when I read about or see some gross inequity and/or injustice taking place. When I read that Bill HB 725 had been passed by Florida legislators and not vetoed by Governor Lawton Chiles I had to write a letter.

I sent it to Lawton Chiles expressing my dismay with such a bill. I really didn't expect a reply. I'm not one of his constituents, I live in California . To my surprise a reply came the other day and I must say it is a sad response.

After reading the letter from Melissa Anderson of Austin's Wine Cellars, Ft. Meyers, FL (printed in WT Volume R, No. 2) and the response I received from Lawton Chiles I'm sure the wine and liquor business in Florida is full of sharks. It also appears none of the Florida voting constituency is awake or for that matter in touch with reality.

The letter from Chiles reads like political boiler plate meant to spoon feed the voters. It only paints over the issues. I'm sure it will sadden you, but hopefully will also get a laugh.

You have my permission to use the Chiles letter anyway you see fit. I hope you feel like I do, that more than just you and I should read it.

Again thank you for the consumer and wine industry advocacy efforts.

Best regards,

Duane Marcroft
San Carlos, California

(Editor's Note: Mr. Marcroft broke down and popped for his very own Wine Trader subscription and no longer has to rely on hand-me-downs. If you're reading a passed-along copy, you should do the same. Good grief, it's only $18 a year.)
dotOLDIES BUT GOODIESdot

Dear Mr. Mead,

I have just finished reading your last issue of the "Wine Trader". I want to thank you for the kind words in the “Letters" section. This is not what I would expect from TWC. Regretfully, our meager cellar does not contain Stag's Leap Cabernet of 1975. You should have told us 20 years ago. I probably would not have taken your advice. But there is a jewel from that era which should make you to chuckle. There is a bottle of "Sonoma Vineyards - Alexander's Crown Cabernet" dated 1975, which has a moldy one dollar bill attached because in some sort of weird way Toby won the prize at a long forgotten W.I.N.O. meeting. The other bottle is "The Monterey Vineyard - Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc" of 1975 vintage. Can I serve this wine with ice cream or face a legal dispute on our anniversary?

Sincerely,
Joseph Laurinovics
tajkat@idt.net

Dear Joe,

You may not recall, but I do, that the 1974 Alexander's Crown from Sonoma Vineyards (now Rodney Strong Vineyards) was the one everyone raved about. One critic called it the best claret style wine ever made in America or some such. While I liked the 1974 a great deal, I rated the 1975 even higher upon its release. Years later when I retasted the two wines with winemaker Rod Strong...I was vindicated. The 1975 was by far the better wine for going the distance and had developed an elegance that was just never visited on the 1974. If your storage is decent, I'm betting you have a very pleasant drinking experience...but I wouldn't wait much longer.

In the comments just below you'll hear from the winemaker, Dr. Richard Peterson.

óJ.D.M.

Yes. I tasted that very wine only about three months ago with Patrick O'Dell and the Turnbull winemaker, Kristen Belair. It needed to breathe at least 15 minutes but was then surprisingly good. As I remember, we thought it got better with additional breathing for another hour. I don't know that I'd choose ice cream, though. I think rich chocolate or fresh ripe peaches would be more compatible.

óDr. Richard Peterson
Napa Valley, California

dotINTERSTATE SHIPPING... ...AND HANDLINGdot

Dear Mr. Mead,

Here's a new issue for you. In the bad old days I used to bootleg wine from a couple of bigtime retailers in New York. They would charge me initially for the shipping container, ($15-16). Then they would ship it with wine, and I would ship back the container with the next order. The total back and forth shipping charges typically amounted to $12-13. Then came our reciprocity law, and I could legally start buying from wineries and that new breed of cat wine brokers. The problem is both these folks, with no exceptions I can find, only ship containers one way, and charge $25-35 S&H.

So now I'm legal, paying double for S&H, and have a cellar full of styrofoam closing in on my wine. Are you willing to take this one on?

Best regards,
Carl Eppig, Innkeeper
Thurston House Bed & Breakfast Inn
Beautiful Coast of Maine
(800) 240-2213 or thurston@acadia.net

P.S.
Something good coming out of Florida. A friend sent me for Christmas a tee shirt from Dakota Vineyards, Chiefland, FL. Against a background of wine glasses and bottles on a burgundy shirt, it says: "I've spent most of my money on wine and women. The rest I've just wasted!"

Dear Mr. Eppig,

Part of the problem is that even though you're in a reciprocal state, many trucking companies still won't accept wine shipments. They don't want to deal with sorting out the maze of what's legal and what's not. And that leaves as the only really reliable transportation option for the wineries, the airfreight companies, which are indeed expensive.

I have no solution to your problem, but print your letter in the hopes that some winery or retailer has found a way to lower those shipping charges and/or help you recycle those styrofoam cartons. If that vintner with a solution will let us know too, we'll see that they get a plug in these pages in our next issue.

Regarding the styrofoam, although it doesn't save me any money, I recycle much of mine by giving it to wineries and retailers who can use it, and even to an olive oil producer. I use the smaller cartons to ship wine and other fragile items to friends and family at the holidays and throughout the year. I also notice that many wineries are using all cardboard shippers, which are more conducive to normal recycling than is styrofoam though it unfortunately weighs a lot more.

óJ.D.M.

dotHE'S BUGGED, LITERALLYdot

Dear Jerry,

I could really use some of your expertise or guidance on coping with a problem which is literally bugging me and my wife. The simple solution to give up drinking red wine is unacceptable; it's so damned good for one's health.

The problem is that we like to sit outside in the late afternoon and early evening when the weather is nice and begin what could be called "wine time." White wine apparently doesn't tantalize, but some little critters who look like undernourished gnats find that diving into our Riedel glasses partially filled with either a Cab or Zin is irresistible.

It was much easier to fish them out (when you could actually see them) with our older, less luxurious glasses. But rather than be a "life saver," is there something that doesn't smell awful, electrocute, or provide a lethal injection that might make the gnats frolic elsewhere? Wearing dark glasses and assuming that you just got a bit of sediment would never sell in this household.

Thanks for your consideration,
Robert Carpenter
Chula Vista, California

Dear Bob,

I haven't one clever solution in mind to solve your problem. I do find it interesting that your gnats (or fruit flies) or whatever they are, have sense enough, or are told by instinct, that red wine is where it's at.

The main reason I'm printing your letter is that I'm betting one or more of our extremely clever readers will come up with solution, which we'll publish next time.

óJ.D.M.

dotOPEN LETTER TO FLORIDA, ETCdot

To Whom It May Concern:

Please find copies of letters sent this day to the states of Florida, Kentucky, and Georgia regarding their felony shipping laws. I feel the time is right and we must act now in order to discourage other states from following suite. Imagine what it would be like in a few years if say 10 states decided to enact felony provision restricting our right to ship wine.

We can't walk from 10 states but we can from three. As a united industry we can make a difference. We are currently one of the most regulated industries in the world and the last thing we need are more rules and restrictions. Leadership is not critical, unity is. Large and small wineries must pull together and stick together in order for this to work.

Write letters letting the governor and wholesalers in these states know that you are presently out of wine. By making our position clear we will garner the support of retailers, restaurants, and consumers. We want these individuals to realize that our goal is not to hurt them but to get them fighting for us. Let's get rid of these ridiculous laws, and if I have wine, I will return. Until then, I am sold out.

Sincerely,
Doug Beckett
Paso Robles, California

Dear Doug,

And with the current shortages and high demand, it's so easy to reallocate wines to other markets, which I'm sure is what many vintners are doing. Of course, it's the consumers in the felony states who will suffer, but maybe they'll get mad enough to put the pressure on the politicians.

óJ.D.M.


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Latest Update: October 31, 1997