Change Agents: More Wines You (Probably) Can’t Have

Vinted on November 5, 2009 binned in wine review

Today, we’re going to talk about more wines that you (probably) can’t get your wine-lovin’ hands on.  And I know that you want to hear about them, because you told me so.

I’m going to start by saying that I wasn’t totally blown away by these wines (received as samples), but I love, love the concept behind them.  I also love that their website includes streaming reggae music, and liberal use of the word “surfeit.”  But, as will come as no surprise to frequent readers, I digress…

The first, and the more impressive, of the wines hails from the sandy loam Margarita vineyard site in Paso Robles’ southwest – Martellotto’s 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.  It’s pleasant, with decent balance, clocks in at a relatively restrained 13.5% abv, is farmed sustainably, and is spot-on priced at $18.  Interestingly, it’s the 5% Syrah component that really stands out for me on this wine (there’s 10% Merlot as well), which rounds out the finish with red fruit and peppery, dried herbs.

So why can’t you have any?  Well, you can, but only if you buy through Big Hammer Wines.  Oh, yeah, and there were only 34 barrels made of the stuff.

Although not quite as interesting as the Martellotto Cab, the next wine (also selling for about $18) definitely has a more interesting story

The Agent for Change Wines brand bills itself as seeking “operatives for doing good works by drinking good wines” – they donate 50% (yes, that’s 5-0 and not 5.0) to charitable causes.  They bill their 2006 Zinfandel (also Paso Robles) as “not a Zin you need a knife and fork to dig into… it’s a Zin you just want to keep drinking.”

In terms of the charity benefiting from the Zin, here’s the skinny:

Agent for Change Wines is a portfolio of négociant wines produced to create awareness and raise funds for worthy causes. By drinking charitably, Agent for Change Wines donates a portion of the proceeds (50% in 2006) to worthy non-profit organizations. The first vintage is donating proceeds to healthcare outreach/clinical care for vineyard workers.

Now, I don’t know about you, but something strikes me as brilliant and obvious about that cause – as if it’s likely (long) overdue for a bit of attention from the wine world.

In terms of flavor profile, the A4C Zin has more in common with Italian Primitivo than it does with its geographically closer California Zin cousins.  I found the A4C to be chili-friendly with lower-than-expected alcohol, higher-than-expected acidity, and middle-of-the-road dark berry fruit.

Also available from Big Hammer – but only 500 cases were made.

Anyway, two fairly-priced wines, some good causes, and a difficult procurement factor – because you asked for it!






  • Evan Dawson

    Dude – I'm definitely interested in wine writers and bloggers writing about hard-to-get wines. I'm also interested in reading pieces on uber-expensive wines. There's a bit of a forbidden fruit aspect, or at least something more exotic. And wirting about these wines can be a signal regarding whether they're worth pursuing (or occaisonally forgoing a mortgage payment).


    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Evan. I've yet to try the wine that would make me forgo a mortgage payment (though some have come close)…

  • @mweb

    This is a great idea – also, check out, 50% of profits from each varietal go to cause partnered with that varietal. Not going to hide anything, I'm with ONEHOPE, but I truly do like the wines (I drink quite a bit) and the causes include the fight against AIDS, autism, and breast cancer as well as support for our planet and our troops.

    If you have any questions about it feel free to reach out to me.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks – great concept.

  • Dylan

    It reminds me of the successful model created by Paul Newman with Newman's Own. Create a product people would buy, become a profitable company, and use those profits to do good.

    • 1WineDude

      Well, let's hope they're profitable, anyway…

  • Michelle Keller

    Honestly, I am really turned off when a wine says it will donate its profits to a certain cause. I would rather they become a profitable company, sell really good wines and THEN donate their profits, quietly, than use the cause for marketing purposes. The "Cashmere" wine by Cline that is donating some percentage of its profits to breast cancer research makes me want to vomit. What a sick, sick way to sell wine, particularly when it has been shown that drinking alcohol on a regular basis raises a woman's risk for breast cancer.

    • 1WineDude

      Michelle, you make a great point about the breast cancer / alcohol link, though I'm not sure I'd fault Cline for trying to help that cause. I'm certainly learning over the past few weeks that alcohol consumption has big-time health impacts (in my case, cholesterol levels)…

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