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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Markham’s The Altruist & The Philanthropist

Gil Kulers

Gil Kulers

Markham's Altruist and Philanthropist

Markham's Altruist and Philanthropist

•2006 Markham Vineyards, The Altruist, Calistoga Estate Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Calif.

• $53

• Two Thumbs Way Up

• Rich, powerful aromas of chocolate, brown sugar and tobacco leaf. It had smoother than expected flavors of eucalyptus, black cherry, cola, flinty minerals, mocha, smoke, cinnamon and clove. Easily enjoyable, but also quite complex.

(Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from thumbs down, one thumb mostly up, one thumb up, two thumbs up, two thumbs way up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.)

I can’t think of an industry—outside of being Bill Gates, which really isn’t an industry—that is more generous than the wine industry. You’d be hard pressed to find a wine auction/tasting/festival that does not have a charity angle to it. One does not have to search too hard to discover the core of this industry-wide proclivity toward largesse.

Wine is about sharing.

Wine draws people together. It is the solvent that melts grudges. It is the glue that makes people linger longer at the dinner table. That is why folks in the wine business, who witness the humanity of wine on a daily basis, find it hard to say “No,” when someone in need comes knocking.

Cynics would point out that marketing angles and selfish promotion underlie the real reason for the wine industry’s generosity. And that may be true to a certain extent. Press releases focusing on a winery’s charitable causes do shine a softer light on that winery, which may translate into more sales.

But don’t tell that to the Table to Table organization of Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J. or the Bartlett Arboretum of Belle Plaine, Kansas. These are the winners of this year’s Markham Vineyards Mark of Distinction Awards. Table to Table delivers surplus perishable foods from grocery stores and restaurants to those in need. The Bartlett Arboretum, a 15-acre tree habitat devastated by floods, will get much-needed revitalization. Both organizations received $25,000 grants from the winery.

Funds for the grants come from the sales of two single-vineyard, Napa Valley cabernet sauvignons, unsurprisingly called The Philanthropist and The Altruist. Not inexpensive at $53 a bottle, but not widely available either. Georgia will get 120 bottles of each wine. That’s 10 cases of the 500 made of each offering. Those are the kind of numbers that make collectors smile…and hopefully open their wallets, too.

And when collectors or bighearted wine lovers buy these wines to share with their friends, Markham gets to put smiles on the faces of those championing worthy causes. Oh, those heartless, ruthless decision makers in the marketing department!

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