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james laube's wine flights

A Topless Biker is Banned in 'Bama

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Jul 27, 2009 12:37pm ET

It’s easy to see why Alabama banned the Cycles Gladiator label. The cyclist isn’t wearing a helmet. How could they have missed it the first time around—three years ago—when it first appeared?

The label also sets a terrible example by picturing a woman riding her bike at night, with no light or reflectors! And she’s riding in a dangerous position with awfully long hair that could easily get stuck in the spokes and cause an accident.

However, it's the Alabama Beverage Control Board that looks like boobs for banning the Cycles label, deeming it pornographic. The Cycles Gladiator label bears a replica of an antique French poster created in 1895 to advertise bicycles, and shouln’t we all be riding our bikes more often? The poster and wine label, pictured here, feature an artistic rendition of a nude woman flying with a bicycle across a star-filled night sky.

Thankfully, Hahn Family, which produces the Cycles Gladiator line of wines, is standing its ground. Rather than change the label, they elected to remove their wines from the Alabama market altogether. Hopefully, all of Alabama's art-loving wine drinkers have taken advantage of the past three years of lawlessness to stock up.

I don't see how this can be considered offensive, much less pornographic. What do you think?

Frank L Hugus
Danville, CA —  July 27, 2009 1:48pm ET
I'll be looking for you at the Tour of Napa in a few weeks.
Steve Bogdon
July 27, 2009 2:30pm ET
I think Alabamans need to stick to riding tricyles
Hoyt Hill Jr
Nashville, TN —  July 27, 2009 2:42pm ET
I think the Alabama enforcement folks should find something important to concern themselves with.
David Rossi
July 27, 2009 3:20pm ET
The lady on the Starbuck's cup is pretty curvy too. I have also always had a slight crush on Ms. Butterworth's. Who know's what Alabama will do next?
Michael Myette
Sacramento, CA USA —  July 27, 2009 4:19pm ET
Here, here!
William Leigon
Napa, CA —  July 27, 2009 4:19pm ET
Thank you Jim for the kind words regarding our stance at Hahn Family Wines in Alabama. I have to admit I was stunned at the reversal of their position regarding the art. Original lithos of Cycles Gladiator from 1895 are some of the most sought after pieces from the Belle Epoque.
Nathanael H Gunter
Los Angeles, CA  —  July 27, 2009 5:32pm ET
James, up until last year in Alabama, wines over 14.5% alcohol were legally considered fortified wines and taxed at a higher (read punitive) rate. There are still more than two handsfull of dry counties and throughout the state, spirit sales are prohibited on Sundays. It's my home state and I love it, but they've got a long way to go to make the state wine-friendly. This is just another screw-up in a long line of screw-ups. I don't see it changing anytime soon. Afterall, you don't get re-elected in Alabama if you vote to loosen the Blue Laws...I'll hang in California for now.
Michael Neeley
Everett, WA —  July 27, 2009 6:17pm ET
I thought Blue Laws were holdovers from the Prohibition era. Alabama only re-enforces its image as a backwards, hillbilly state by creating new ones. Good thing there aren't any labels on the moonshine!
Keir Mccartney
League City,TX —  July 27, 2009 6:24pm ET
It really is very sad isn't it? Reminiscent of John Ashcroft and his aversion to "The Spirit of Justice" statues. Pretty funny considering he was the Attorney General. Have Alabama banned the Peirano Estate "The Other" label yet? It can only be a matter of time. These guys/gals need to relax and drink more wine!
Peter Lehmann Wines Ltd
Australia —  July 27, 2009 8:00pm ET
Peter Lehmann also had to robe our Semillon Queen so she could be appreciated in the States. Don't be alarmed they were just breasts everywhere else in the world.Ian
Mark Antonio
Tokyo —  July 27, 2009 10:06pm ET
Surely the legislators were voted in by the people? Perhaps these are the kind of laws that the natives of Alabama want to have..James, on another note, just checked out your reviews of the 2006 Cabernets - my first impression was how expensive these wines are still. I assume California wine makers haven't experienced such a downturn in demand, or is it that the wines production costs are so high? Just seems crazy to be averaging $80 for an 89 point wine.. Care to comment?
David W Voss
elkhorn, Wi —  July 28, 2009 8:34am ET
I agree with the comment on the prices of the wines. Any wine over $50 a bottle that is not rated outstanding will sit on the shelf a long time. There are too many wines under that price that deserve the support of the consumer.
James Laube
Napa, CA —  July 28, 2009 1:42pm ET
We will continue to report on wines at all different price points and as a publication we have always emphasized value. Next week's highlights focus on Cabernets at $50 and less.
Jamie Sherman
Sacramento —  July 28, 2009 4:55pm ET
I care not to comment on Alabama for fear of saying something rude however rulings like this tend to extend stereotypes that project a negative image on the state. They may need to consider this implication in their decisions. On another note to Keir, I do remember that John Ashcroft lost to a dead man in 2000 when running for governor of Missouri. Seems most people thought a deceased politician was better than a politician with his ideas. Most people except our ex-pres GW.
Michael Schulman
Westlake Village, CA —  July 28, 2009 6:48pm ET
I'm going to bet that Bibi Graetz's Soffocone di Vincigliata
http://www.klwines.com/images/skus/1045529x.jpg
isn't going to be on the shelves either.
David Barksdale
Henderson, NV —  July 28, 2009 7:03pm ET
Gentlemen, please. So much animus. The only surprise is that no one has yet managed to tie this in to Cheney. A State Commission has made what I agree to be a goofy move. However, it seems way over the top for you to immediately turn up the dueling banjo music from Deliverance and apply judgement to the whole state. How about the rest of the country start associating the inanity that defines Sacramento, to wine makers and wine critics? One might then point out that you would never be so silly as to care what appears on a wine label but at the same time you are facing sending IOU's to Grandma.



Hahn has been blessed with more free advertising from this single incident than they have ever received since they opened their doors. In order to express their gratitude to the Alabama ABC, Hahn can offer to accept State of California Vouchers for all of the wine pulled from the Alabama stores. Californians can then find a use for the State Vouchers and the good people in Alabama will muddle through and find another $10 bottle of Cabernet. Roll Tide!

Joe Gellert
Armonk New York —  July 29, 2009 7:50pm ET
I have the actual poster in the office hanging above my desk. It's great. (Actually, since my office has a half a dozen of French posters in not a big deal.)
Eugene Kim
Houston, TX —  July 29, 2009 8:19pm ET
Perhaps they can cover the offending "areas" with a sleeve over the bottle. After all, I'm sure that's what they do with the nudie magazines sold in the state.
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  August 2, 2009 11:24am ET
My wife just draws little bikinis on wines like these. You should see our Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc bottles!

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