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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
30 Jul 2001

Wine lovers in the state of Florida will continue to receive exceptionally large shipments of 'olive oil', 'fruit juice' and even 'sports shoes' now that a federal district court judge has ruled that the state's ban on direct wine shipments to consumers is a valid exercise of state authority, dismissing a lawsuit brought by consumers challenging that ban.

The decision by Judge James D Whittemore states that the ban on out-of-state wineries shipping to consumers is a clear violation of the dormant Commerce Clause. The American wineries' trade organization points out that this would be unconstitutional except for the 21st Amendment and reckons the judge has provided the basis for appeal because he chose to ignore Supreme Court strictures that the 21st Amendment does not repeal the Commerce Clause. Got that?

I must say that sitting in the Languedoc, where one is free to order wine not just from other parts of France but from entirely different countries without any legal or fiscal barriers, it seems absolutely barmy that Florida wine drinkers who want to do something as harmless as order a few bottles from their favourite American wineries have to resort to the subterfuge of having them labelled as something else.

Mind you, importing wine into the UK is not nearly as easy as it is in France. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is determined to levy his excise duty of well over a pound a bottle on every one, not to mention as many other taxes as he can squeeze.

Time for me to ship in some more Mosel Riesling to sip of an evening. The whites of the Languedoc are certainly improving. Excessive oak is becoming a thing of the past and there are many fine bottles for drinking with food. But there is nothing to touch the lightness and delicacy of Mosel Riesling as an aperitif in really hot weather. Did I ever tell you I was a Riesling fan?