I don’t know about you, but I am outraged. The A.C.A is an ill-conceived disaster. The time to stop it is NOW, before it’s fully implemented. It’s not too late. I know, I know, it feels like the battle has been lost, but we mustn’t lose hope, we mustn’t abandon our ideals, our very way of life. We have to fight it with every ounce of our being, make sure that our children, our grandchildren, won’t have to carry the burden of this terrible travesty of the business we hold so dear.
I’m speaking of, if I can get the dreaded words unstuck from my craw, the Affordable Cab Act. It will destroy the wine business if we don’t stop it NOW.
I will concede that the prices for Cabernet Sauvignon are insane. The system is definitely broken, I’ll give them that. Wineries with no track record charging $150 for a first release of Napa Valley Cabernet? Who buys those wines? The same people who hire Dennis Rodman for a makeover? The people who hire Anthony Wiener as their Social Media Consultant? People who religiously follow James Suckling? Those morons?
Cabernet Sauvignon prices are like Mel Gibson’s cars—driven by ego. Every overhyped, expensively packaged, new “cult” wine says the same thing in its marketing materials. “We tasted our first release of Mammon Worship Cabernet blind, alongside Harlan Estate, Screaming Eagle, Scarecrow, and all five First Growths, and our wine finished first! And, at $200/bottle, it was the cheapest wine in the tasting!” Who dreams up this crap? How stupid do they think people are? Wow, you mean the wine you made to your own taste, the one you taste every day, actually won your “blind” tasting? Remarkable! Here’s an idea! Try Mammon Worship blind alongside a bunch of wines that cost $40. You’ll still win, and you can charge $50! That makes more sense, doesn’t it?
Bordeaux is no better. Speculation drives the prices up on the best Cabernet-based wines in the region. Bordeaux is no longer a wine, it’s a commodity. Like gold, or corn, or African orphans in Hollywood. The rich have most of it cornered, and, for them, money is no object any more than good taste is.
The Affordable Cabernet crisis was avoidable. If people would just use the brains God gave them, many of them factory seconds, to be sure, but brains nonetheless. The Cabernet crisis is a conspiracy, people! It exists because Americans are ignorant and believe the mainstream wine media! When they are blatantly and unashamedly lying.
Just look at the recent Wine Spectator issue on California Cabernet Sauvignon, reported mostly by Establishment lackey James Laube. In the issue, Laube rates the 2010 vintage for Cabernet Sauvignon in California a ridiculous 98 points! 98 Points! And why? Because the weather was nice. That’s how you rate your fucking vacation, not wine. Laube rates the vintage 98 points, but the highest scoring wine in the report received 97 points. How does that work? The vintage was better than the wines? Apparently. And why did the vintage only get 98 points? What knocked it down from 100? Laube was pissed off when it rained on his birthday? It was overcast for the Vintage Auto Show? It was too hot at the Napa Valley Auction to wear their fur coats?
If the folks who could afford the best Cabernets just kept their wits about them, stopped believing the Establishment media when it hands out meaningless numbers, and refused to pay more than $50 for a great bottle of Cabernet, there wouldn’t have to be the Affordable Cab Act. Soon, if we allow this insidious law to be instituted, our great Cabernets will be in the hands of poor people, illegal immigrants, the unemployed, or, worse, Millennials!
In principle, the Affordable Cab Act is simple. You can understand why folks would vote for it. It guarantees affordable Cabernet Sauvignon for everyone. Not just the rich, who can afford it. Not just sommeliers, who claim to be busy, so could you just drop a bottle off and I’ll taste it when I have time? (In wine country, everyone knows Spring is flea, tick and sommelier season.) No, great Cabernet would be available to everyone. Sounds good, right?
But look more closely at the facts. It’s socialism. Wake up! Our great democracy is in serious danger. The Affordable Cab Act punishes the talented and hardworking people who buy the great wines of Napa Valley and Bordeaux—bankers, hedge fund managers, people with billions of dollars in offshore investments. That isn’t fair. Democracy isn’t about helping the little people. Where does it say that in the Constitution? Democracy is about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But, if you’re poor, if you’re middle class, hey, you get one of those, and be grateful you get that. You get life. Happiness and liberty? Don’t be such a sap.
The Affordable Cab Act would create a pool of money. Every time one of our finest citizens bought a case of Margaux, or a six-pack of Screaming Eagle, or just a bottle of Lafite, the money would go into that giant pool. The winery, or the broker, or the auction house, would get a percentage of the money for their wine. The rest of the money would be doled out to less successful wine lovers in the form of credits, which they could use, in turn, to purchase Cabernets they can no longer afford. It would all be based on your income, and your ability to appreciate wine.
Yes, it sounds good, and only good would come out of enacting the A.C.A., but don’t let that fool you. It’s a simple fact, but, like health, great wine is meant to be appreciated by the people who earned it, not to be shared with those less fortunate. As Senator Ted Cruz so eloquently put it, “I got mine. Fuck y’all.” Or was that Bill Koch?
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
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