? The maestro speaks: The Winestream Media has been abuzz with Robert Parker stories, as he makes the rounds of the various big-time wine events this spring. The most important person in the wine business has hinted at retirement, has pronounced the 2009 Bordeaux vintage the greatest ever (the third or fourth time he has singled out a vintage this century), and discussed the various scandals and upsets that have recently plagued his empire. There are an almost infinite number of links and stories, and someone could probably do quite well publishing a blog devoted to nothing other than Parker news, in the same way tech blogs focus on Apple and Microsoft). The best summaries I've found are at Wine Industry Insight (scroll down to the Parker section) and at The Blend Blog.
? Burying the direct shipping bill: HR 1161, the successor to HR 5034, is officially dead. How do we know this? The distributors who were paying to push the bill through Congress have said so. Reports Shanken News Daily: " '[It] is officially off the table,' says Republic National Distributing Co. president Tom Cole, who attended the joint meeting and adds that suppliers and distributors are now working together more closely than any time in the past few decades to resolve their differences.' " Background is here; the bill, in its various incarnations, was an attempt by distributors to keep Congress from interfering in their constituionally-protected monopoly to sell wine through the three-tier system. Some in Congress wanted to give retailers the ability to buy direct from producers, or to allow consumers to buy direct from out-of-state retailers. Both are mostly prohibited by three-tier. I have no idea what the rapprochement between the producers and distributors means or what brought it about. Though that statement does sound ominous, doesn't it?
? Berger on local wine: None other than Dan Berger, one of the top wine writers in the world, has lent his imprimatur to regional wine. "Fifty years ago, if you tasted a wine from Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, or New York, chances are you'd be lucky if it was even drinkable. … A lot has changed since then." Among Berger's top states: Texas, Virginia, Missouri and Colorado, where we have held one of our annual DrinkLocalWine conferences or will hold one — Colorado, April 28.