Tuesday wine bits 62: South African wine, Wine.com leaves Michigan, cheap wine gold medal

? Good news for South African wine: And from Eric Asimov at the New York Times, no less. Asimov, who has seen many of the same problems with South African wines that the rest of us have, writes that ?I want to tell you straight out that South Africa, of all places, is one of the greatest sources for moderately priced cabernet sauvignon on the planet today. ? This is, as Asimov notes, big news, since the quality of South African wine has traditionally been spotty. He recommends the cabernets from De Trafford, Rust en Vrede, and One Stroke One.

? Direct shipping takes a hit: Wine.com, the biggest Internet retailer, says it won ?t sell wine in Michigan, a result of a new state law that bans retailers from shipping wine directly to consumers and prohibits UPS and FedEx from delivering wine. In this way, Michigan retailers and distributors found a way around the Supreme Court decision that made direct shipping easier. And, though it ?s disappointing news for those of us who want direct shipping, it ?s not surprising. Michigan ?s retail and distributor lobby is powerful, and the state has some of the most draconian liquor laws in the country, including state-set prices.

? Box wine wins best of class: Corbett Canyon ?s non-vintage merlot, which comes in a three-liter box and costs about $10, won Best of Class for Merlots below $15 at the 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. In fact, the results were surprising in many ways, with top honors going to New Mexico and Long Island wines.

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