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Obscene or obscenely good?

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OK, I'm compiling the replies I got re: Saturday's sangria column — recipes, recommendations, etc. — and will get it all up here before the August long weekend.

First, a quick hit on a story that I came upon via my Twitter feed on Friday. Apparently the Alabama Beverage Control Board has deemed the label on the Hahn Estates Cycles Gladiator to be pornographic. As a result, the wine has been removed from stores statewide.

Both the Pinot Grigio and the Syrah from the California winery are available in Manitoba — they both sell for $14.03 plus taxes and are (in this writer's humble opinion) excellent values.

I talked to Randy Sawatzky of Tipsy Thief Imports , the local agency that represents the wines, to see what he/they had to say about the wine. Says Sawatzky, "The label is what first attracted me to the wine itself. [Georges] Massias did a fantastic representation of unihibited freedom when he released the print in the late 19th century."

When asked if he was concerned about the artwork on the label, Sawatzky added "Not in the least. You have to appreciate the label as a work of art...not as something pornographic."

So what do you think? Is this artwork pornographic?

My two cents: I don't find the artwork to be the least bit offensive. In fact, there are a number of wineries who have released lines of products with profanity in the name or with questionable double entendres, puns or other groan-worthy wordplay — think Big Ass Cab.

Actually, I'm usually more offended by the pseudo-poetic descriptors of some wines on the back labels — they're often so far off the mark from what I'm tasting that I feel the winemakers must think I'm a real tool.

I'm waiting to hear back from a couple more industry folk about their thoughts on the label. Personally, I think Hahn Estates will get a huge bump from the piles of free publicity they'll receive from an egregious overreaction by Alabama's Beverage Control Board.

Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/WFPuncorked

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About Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

When he wasn't bashing on a drum kit in local punk rock bands, Ben spent the mid '90s hucking cases of wine around to pay for two English degrees. Now he's the Winnipeg Free Press wine columnist and blogger.

The extent of Ben's wine experience in the mid-90s was memories of accidentally leaving a bottle of White Zinfandel in the freezer overnight, and the ensuing mess he was left with. Between 1996 and 2005 Ben absorbed all he could about wine while working at wine shops to pay for school. Meanwhile, he was churning out papers for his BA and MA in English (from the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, respectively).

Ben became the Winnipeg Free Press' weekly wine columnist in 2005, and two years later joined Wine Access magazine as a contributor, a member of their national tasting panel and a judge at the Canadian Wine Awards and International Value Wine Awards until the magazine closed up shop in 2013.

In 2013 Ben joined the Winnipeg Free Press as a copy/web editor.

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