Everybody knows that I “love” the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board [ Editor’s note: this is a boldfaced lie; I think the PLCB acts like a Communist monopoly and therefore I actually hate the PLCB ].
At least, I loved the recent move by Governor Tom Corbett to appoint Joseph “Skip” Brion (that’s his real nickname, by the way) the new PLCB Chairman, since both Corbett and Brion appear to be in favor of privatizing the state Commonwealth’s monopoly alcohol sales system – and they’re supporting House Bill eleven (HB11) which seeks to amend the existing Liquor Code “providing for the privatization of sales of wine and spirits in this Commonwealth through abolition of the State Liquor Stores.”
But as much as I’d love to see privatization take hold and the free market rein when it comes to alcohol sales in my home state Commonwealth, it’s become clear to me that, technically speaking, HB11 is actually not in the best interests of PA’s wine-consuming public; I would describe HB11 as Bull Honkey. As in, a big, stinking, steaming load of Bull Honkey.
Why? Two reasons, my vino-loving friends, neither of which portends any favorable outcomes from HB11 when it comes to actually letting the free market into the ring of PA’s liquor sales and distribution…
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“Billy C. is drinking Sandeman Port down at the old café
And the river goes by slowly, the river likes it that way.”
– The Knuckleball Suite, Peter Mulvey
In the world of wine, there are a few images that stand the test of time and can truly be described as iconic, instantly conjuring up the history not just of a long-standing producer, but also of the entire region that producer calls home. And when you’re iconic in the world of wine, with its long historical perspective… well, then you’re just f*cking iconic, period.
In America, we have such an icon: the Missionary-style tower at Robert Mondavi winery in Napa Valley has come to represent not only the history of fine winemaking at RMW, but the entire modern history of fine winemaking in all of Napa (and by extension all of the U.S.), by virtue of the man who just about singlehandedly started it all.
The world of Port in Portugal has such an icon, too: The Don – that tall, dark-cloaked stranger that stands so prominently on the Gaia side of the river Douro (and who’s a lot more Zoro than creepy-flasher), is instantly recognizable to anyone walking along the shoreline in Porto. George Massiot Brown’s poster design from the 1920s has come to represent not only the 200+ years of Port-producing history that began with Scotsman George Sandeman – to many, it represents Port, period.
So when you’re offered samples of the icon’s range of age-designated Tawny Ports (from 10 to 40 years old) for possible review, you think twice about turning them down. In fact, in that scenario, as a wine geek you really have only two options: 1) decline the samples, or 2) plan on staging a comparative tasting and pairing them with Apple, Cranberry & Walnut Pie with Stilton (from page 208 of Sid Goldstein’s excellent The Wine Lover’s Cookbook).
You can guess which option I picked…
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