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Wine Institute and Florida Finally Get it Right About Direct Shipping

by Sara & Monty Preiser

Preisers’ Reserve: There are uncommonly good red Zinfandels being produced in California, and our choice as the best we ran across last month is Barbara and Tim Spelletich’s 2003 Spelletich Cellars Alviso from Amador County. Successfully navigating the dangerous waters between sometimes over-ripe Amador fruit and unbalanced high alcohol, this wine reflects the beauty of which this varietal is capable. Layers of jam, fruit, and spice housed within a surprisingly smooth texture make the Alviso a pleasure to drink with or without food. And at $25, it’s even better.

www.spellwine.com 707-965-0952

Wine Institute and Florida Finally Get it Right About Direct Shipping

As everyone who has followed the trials and tribulations of shipping wine directly to a consumer in another state knows, last May the U. S. Supreme Court made it clear in Granholm v. Heald that discriminatory direct wine shipment laws were unconstitutional. Apparently that decision was not enough for certain Florida state officials, so in August a Federal judge found (not surprisingly) in Bainbridge, et al. v. Turner that the state’s direct shipping laws were also unconstitutional.

Incredibly to most lawyers (of which I am one), the Wine Institute in California still refused to advise their clients (scores of wineries) that shipping to Florida was no longer a felony. And the Florida public officials? Well, whether due to incompetence or a hunger for power, they still refused to confirm that wineries would not be prosecuted for such shipping, despite the fact that the Courts had already spoken and held that such was permitted until and unless the legislature specifically banned shipments by an Act that would pass Constitutional muster.

It isn’t a great revelation that those with power hate to lose it. The judiciary did its job by clarifying the law (which happened to favor the consumer), but, in the process, the Courts upset those who controlled such things up to the time of the decision – distributors, state officials in the executive branch, and even trade groups like the Wine Institute.

Fortunately, most people can only hold out so long, and many months after the controlling Court decisions Secretary Simone Marstiller, who heads Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, announced that the state would allow out-of-state wineries to make direct shipments of wine to adult consumers in Florida, the second largest wine market in the country. Immediately the Wine Institute picked up on the news and sent releases to wineries and the press trumpeting the victory for consumer choice, fair trade, and the nation’s wineries.

It’s certainly wonderful for all Florida residents that there no longer is a doubt that wine can be ordered by consumers and shipped into the state, but one has to ask, “What took them all so long?”

Zinfandel Was Everywhere - and I Loved It

After a few years of good intentions, I finally managed to be in San Francisco at the time of the annual tasting sponsored by the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers, known far and wide simply as “ZAP.” Founded in 1991, this organization is dedicated to advancing public knowledge of, and appreciation for, American Zinfandel and its unique place in our culture and history.

Consisting of 310 producers of Zinfandel, and almost 6,000 “advocates” from around the globe, the common focus is the preservation and recognition of Zinfandel as America's wine. ZAP organizes seminars, educational programs, and tastings at wineries and other settings across the United States to explain the uniqueness of the Zinfandel grape, and to promote continuing research surrounding its origins. The organization is headed by Executive Director Rebecca Robinson and a Board of Directors, with the 2005-2006 President being Julie Johnson, owner of the excellent Tres Sabores label.

The ZAP event itself is held at Fort Mason, an old military establishment in the shadows of the Golden Gate Bridge, and is one of the most popular tastings of its kind. Picture thousands of wine lovers clamoring to sample not just one wine from the hundreds of wineries represented, but sometimes up to four different bottles made of varying blends or coming from separate vineyards. What a scene.

It is next to impossible to find the physical space needed to write extensive notes about what you are drinking, even if you wanted to take the time to do so. As it is, it is impossible to visit more than 50 - 60% of the represented wineries. I did, however, take enough time to rate the wines I sampled so that I could at least offer a bit of a guide in that regard. Note that I love Zin, and one hopes I can recognize a good bottle regardless of the style, of which there are many. Generally, I’m looking for a wine that exhibits integrated fruit and spice, while keeping a balance between ripeness and high alcohol.

Worth a Special Effort to Find: 2002 Ballentine Estate Old Vine – Napa ($18); 2004 Benessere Black Glass – Napa (not yet released); 2003 Chase Family Hayne Vineyard – Napa ($40); 2003 D-Cubed Howell Mountain – Napa ($37); 2003 Frank Family – Napa ($32.50); 2002 Howell Mt. Old Vines ($28); 2004 Macauley Brown/Moss Creek – Napa (not yet released); 2004 Robert Biale Old Crane ($36); 2004 Robert Biale Black Chicken ($34); 2003 Seghesio Home Ranch Alexander Valley – Sonoma ($33); 2004 Seghesio Home Ranch Alexander Valley ($36); and 2004 Tofanelli Estate – Napa ($36 - not yet released).

Don’t Miss if You Run Across Them: 2004 Ballentine Estate Old Vines Block 11 – Napa ($25); 2002 Benessere BK Collins Old Vines – Napa ($32); 2004 Boeger Walker Vineyards El Dorado – Sierra Foothills ($16); 2003 Carol Shelton Old Vines Wild Thing – Mendocino ($28); 2003 Chateau Potelle Mt. Veeder VGS – Napa ($53); 2002 Collier Falls Private Reserve Dry Creek Valley – Sonoma ($26); 2003 D-Cubed Napa Valley – Napa ($25); 2003 Fife Mendocino Uplands – Mendocino ($17); 2003 Fife Redhead – Mendocino ($24); 2003 Girard Old Vine – Napa ($24); 2003 Grgich Hills Old Vines ($70); 2002 Howell Mt. Beatty Ranch ($38); 2003 Howell Mt. Black Sears ($38); 2003 Klinker Brick Old Vine – Lodi ($16); 2003 Klinker Brick Old Ghost Old Vine – Lodi ($35); 2004 Michael-David The 7 Deadly Zins – Lodi ($17); 2004 Michael-David Earthquake - Lodi ($25); 2003 Mount Aukum El Dorado – Sierra Foothills ($18); 2002 Pezzi King Maple Vineyard – Dry Creek Valley ($30); 2002 Rodney Strong Reserve – Sonoma ($30); 2003 Rombauer El Dorado ($25); 2003 St. Francis Reserve Pagani – Sonoma ($45); 2002 Spelletich Cellars Alviso – Amador ($24); 2002 Spelletich Cellars Tim & Edie’s – Shenandoah Valley ($20); 2003 The Terraces – Napa ($25); 2003 Tofanelli Estate – Napa ($34); and 2002 Zoom San Francisco Bay Continette – Contra Costa ($24).

Will Be OK to Order or Drink: 2004 Alexander Valley Sin Zin – Sonoma ($20); 2002 Ballentine Estate Reserve Block 9 – Napa ($27); 2003 Benessere Black Glass – Napa ($40); 2003 Boeger Estate Vineyard El Dorado – Sierra Foothills ($15); 2002 Chateau Felice Estate Reserve Chalk Hill – Sonoma ($24); 2002 Fife Old Vines – Napa ($24); 2003 Haywood Estate Morning Sun Vineyard – Sonoma ($35); 2002 Hunt Cellars Outlaw Ridge – Paso Robles ($32); 2001 Hunt Cellars Zinful Delight Port – Paso Robles ($45 for 375 ml.); 2003 Jessup Cellars Napa ($28); 2000 Jessup Cellars Zin Port ($45); 2003 Macauley Vineyard Brown/Moss Creek – Napa ($28); 2001 Moss Creek Wappo Camp – Napa ($35); 2004 Mount Aukum Russian River – Sonoma ($30); 2002 Pedroncelli Mother Clone Dry Creek Valley – Sonoma ($14); 2002 Pezzi King Old Vine – Dry Creek Valley ($25); 2002 Rodney Strong Knotty Pines – Sonoma ($19); 2003 Scott Harvey White Label – Amador ($25); 2003 Scott Harvey Red Label Mountain Selection – Amador ($15); 2004 Sobon Estate Rocky Top – Amador ($18); 2003 T-Vine Cellars Brown – Chiles Valley ($29); 2002 Zefina Alder Ridge – Columbia Valley, WA ($25); n/v Zoom California Lot 4 – California ($12); and 2002 Zoom Alexander Valley – Sonoma ($24).

Not For Us: 2002 Abundance Old Vine Mencarini Vineyards – Lodi ($14); 2003 Abundance Old Vine Mencarini Vineyards – Lodi ($14); 2002 Grgich Hills Napa – Napa ($28); 2003 Haywood Estate Los Chamizal – Sonoma ($25); 2003 Haywood Estate Rocky Terrace – Sonoma ($35); 2002 Jessup Cellars Napa ($28); 2004 Loxton Cellars Sonoma Hillside ($25); 2002 Moss Creek Wappo Camp – Napa ($37); 2000 Moss Creek Reserve – Napa ($50); 2003 Quivera Anderson Ranch – Dry Creek Valley ($30); 2003 Robert Green – Napa ($18); 2005 Scott Harvey Super Hero Inzinerator – Napa ($15); 2003 Valley of the Moon – Sonoma ($25); 2004 XYZin 10 Vine Age – Alexander Valley ($16); 2004 XYZin 50 Vine Age – Alexander Valley ($30); 2004 XYZin 100 Vine Age – Alexander Valley ($40); 2003 Cedarville Estate El Dorado – Sierra Foothills ($22); and 2003 Zingaro Mendocino Benchland – Mendocino ($14)

Along with his wife Sara, Monty publishes a weekly wine column and restaurant review column for the Boca Raton News and the Delray Beach News. They judge the annual Hilton Head Winefest and Monty is the founder of the Hilton Head chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food. They also contribute to the Hilton Head Monthly and Boca Magazines.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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