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    Published on: March 29, 2021

    Krispy Kreme recently announced a promotion - anyone who comes in with a CDC card showing that they've received both their Covid-19 vaccinations gets a free doughnut.  Every day.  Until the end of 2021.

    But sometimes, you just can't win, and no good deed goes unpunished - even though what Krispy Kreme was doing could be described as targeted marketing.  KC has some thoughts about misguided outrage.

    Content Guy's Note:  After I recorded this commentary, Krispy Kreme announced a new promotion -  a free coffee and doughnut for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, every Monday until May 24 - that seemed designed to lower the temperature of the doughnut discourse.  But that doesn't affect the essence of my argument.

    Published on: March 29, 2021

    by Kevin Coupe

    This is what passes for sophisticated political discourse these days.

    Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) goes on Twitter to say:

    Giant corporations like Amazon report huge profits to their shareholders – but they exploit loopholes and tax havens to pay close to nothing in taxes. That’s just not right – and it’s why I’ll be introducing a bill to make the most profitable companies pay a fair share.

    Amazon goes on Twitter to responded in three parts:

    1.  You make the tax laws  @SenWarren; we just follow them. If you don’t like the laws you’ve created, by all means, change them. Here are the facts: Amazon has paid billions of dollars in corporate taxes over the past few years alone.

    2.  In 2020, we had another $1.7B in federal tax expense and that’s on top of the $18 billion we generated in sales taxes for states and localities in the U.S. Congress designed tax laws to encourage investment in the economy.

    3.  So what have we done about that? $350B in investments since 2010 & 400K new US jobs last year alone. And while you’re working on changing the tax code, can we please raise the federal minimum wage to $15?

    Prompting Sen. Warren to react:

    I didn’t write the loopholes you exploit, @amazon – your armies of lawyers and lobbyists did. But you bet I’ll fight to make you pay your fair share. And fight your union-busting. And fight to break up Big Tech so you’re not powerful enough to heckle senators with snotty tweets.

    Which, of course, earns this rejoinder from Amazon:

    This is extraordinary and revealing. One of the most powerful politicians in the United States just said she’s going to break up an American company so that they can’t criticize her anymore.

    Look, I think there is plenty of room for a nuanced debate about tax policy, the roles of corporations and organized labor in 2021 America, income disparity, the minimum wage vs. a living wage, and so on.

    But is Twitter really the place to be having this conversation, in quick bites that hardly do the issues justice?

    On the one hand, maybe it is … simply because the use of Twitter to communicate positions and opinions has become standard operating procedure, even if means reducing those positions to the lowest common, easiest to understand, quickest to stoke outrage denominator.

    It isn't just Warren with whom Amazon is engaged in a social media contretemps.  Reuters had a story the other day about how Amazon's social media team is "baring its teeth," and it has engaged in an extended - though not necessarily nuanced - argument with Sen. Bernie Sanders about the minimum wage and organized labor.

    Recode reports this morning that "Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos expressed dissatisfaction in recent weeks that company officials weren’t more aggressive in how they pushed back against criticisms of the company that he and other leaders deem inaccurate or misleading. What followed was a series of snarky and aggressive tweets that ended up fueling their own media cycles."

    I'm going to go way out on a limb here and suggest that nobody is doing anybody any favors by engaging in this way.  Neither side probably has a choice, since the one thing even less optimal than getting into the Twitter mud is allowing the opposition to fling statements and accusations without response.

    While I'm sure Amazon feels it has to fight back against accusations, I don't think it is helping itself by engaging in cyber feuds.  Wouldn't Amazon be better off mounting a sophisticated and nuanced defense based on facts that it believes are on its side, that respects people's intelligence and ability to discern between a quick 280-character shot and a persuasive case?

    Of course, even as I write those words, there's a part of me that responds, "Probably not."

    But is this the Eye-Opening debate that we - the public, the business community, the press, and the governmental/political class - really deserve?

    I.  Think. Not.  

    Published on: March 29, 2021

    The Dallas Morning News reports that H-E-B, which has buying land in and around the Dallas market for years, finally will bring the banner to the area with two stores scheduled to open in  Frisco and Plano during the autumn of 2022.

    According to the story, "The Plano store will be on land H-E-B has owned since 2012 at the southwest corner of Preston Road and Spring Creek Parkway. That location is about 5 miles from the company’s Central Market store in Plano.

    "The two stores will be about 9 miles apart, straddling the Dallas North Tollway and surrounded by rooftops in Collin County, one of the fastest-growing areas in the nation."

    H-E-B already has six Central Market stores operating in the market, and Stephen Butt, president of H-E-B’s Central Market division based in Dallas, says that at some point all of the company's banners - including Mi Tienda and Joe V’s Smart Shop - will have a presence there.

    The Dallas Morning News writes that "H-E-B’s entry will unleash a new level of competition in D-FW. The company ranks high both with customers and in industry performance. Walmart has the largest market share here, and all the major national grocery chains have significant footprints in D-FW, from Kroger and Albertsons to Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts Farmers Market, Target, Sam’s Club, Costco, Amazon and Whole Foods Market."

    The story goes on:  "Unlike its competitors, H-E-B is run by Texans for Texans and has gained loyal followers over the years as an employer, as a corporate citizen and for the flavors it serves up in prepared and frozen foods. It regularly adds new private-label products, including varieties of salsas and queso. Its Texas-shaped tortilla chips are shipped to Texans scattered all over the country."

    KC's View:

    One thing seems clear - all those companies currently operating in the Dallas market have to start competing with H-E-B today - not in 18 months when those stores finally open.

    I have to wonder if H-E-B has a unique opportunity here.  Even in a market where it doesn't have any stores under the H-E-B banner, it has one of the best retail brands anywhere, with enormously high recognition and approval.  While it is building those stores, H-E-B could use its proprietary e-commerce business, Favor, and the micro-fulfillment capabilities it is building out, to actually serve the Dallas market before it opens stores there.

    I would think that at some level, H-E-B would be more capable than almost anyone at making this work - to prove that you don't need a fleet of stores to swamp the competition.

    Published on: March 29, 2021

    Laura Deal, a Boulder, Colorado-based writer, penned an op-ed piece for the Daily Camera there the other day about the importance of the local King Soopers in her life and the lives of her friends and family.  It is, of course, the King Soopers where a gunman massacred 10 people.

    Her memories include:

    "It’s the store where my husband used to take our toddler daughter in the wee hours of the night when she couldn’t sleep and he didn’t want to wake me. They would shop together at 3 a.m. and when she fell asleep in the car on the one-mile ride home, he carried her gently into her bed before putting away the groceries … It’s the store where my husband stood for nearly an hour, calculating how many flowers he would need to buy for there to be 10,000 petals to celebrate 10,000 days of marriage, during one of the hardest months of my life. The bouquets lasted for weeks."

    There isn't a happy ending.  But this eloquent piece is worth reading here.

    Published on: March 29, 2021

    The Canadian Press reports that Empire Company Ltd., parent company to retailers that include Sobeys, Safeway and FreshCo, and Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada, described as "an industry group representing food manufacturers," have come to an agreement on a "a draft grocery code of practice they say takes aim at unfairness in the market."

    According to the story, "the proposed code addresses long-standing issues like arbitrary fees, cost increases imposed without notice, and late payments … The code would enshrine a set of good-faith industry business principles, such as requiring written agreements between large retailers and suppliers and ensuring changes to business terms are not imposed arbitrarily."

    Empire CEO Michael Medline said that there were “unprecedented strides” made during the pandemic to assure the continued viability of the supply chain.  “Let’s not go back to the old way of doing things,” he said in a statement. “We hope our principled proposal will be a springboard to move our industry forward.”

    The Canadian Press writes that "the code would be a first of its kind in Canada but pulls lessons from similar documents, most notably the U.K. Groceries Supply Code of Practice.

    "The code was formally submitted Thursday to a federal, provincial and territorial working group examining the issues plaguing the grocery industry, including the imposition of unilateral costs on suppliers, fining suppliers for shortages and offloading operating costs onto suppliers."

    The story points out that "the proposed code of conduct comes after Loblaw Companies Ltd., Walmart Canada and United Grocers Inc., a national buying group that represents Metro Inc., imposed higher fees on suppliers in recent months.  The unilateral moves made the cost of getting goods on store shelves more expensive for food manufacturers."

    KC's View:

    Let me yet again remind you of the Latin proverb:

    Trust, like the soul, never returns once it goes.

    There seem to be a lot of cases in both the US and Canada where retailers imposed new fees on supplier "partners" that seemed designed to obviate trust, not build it.  This is no way to conduct commerce … focused on short-term, rather than long-term, gratification.

    Published on: March 29, 2021

    USA Today this morning reports that Dick's Sporting Goods, buoyed by strong performance during the pandemic linked to people's desire to work out at home since gyms were closed, has just opened a new format store in Rochester, New York, designed to be more experiential in nature.

    Dick's House of Sports, the story says, "will focus on giving customers a hands-on shopping experience. The store will include an outdoor field for sporting events, a rock-climbing wall, and indoor wellness spaces. It'll also give consumers an opportunity to seek advice from fitness experts who can help them choose equipment and get more out of their workout routines.

    "In fact, the goal is really to create a fitness community of sorts -- one that appeals to consumers and makes them want to visit. A second store is in the works for Knoxville, Tennessee, and Dick's expects to have it open in May."

    USA Today goes on:  "In an age when so many consumers have shifted to online shopping, offering a unique in-store experience could really work to Dick's advantage. After all, getting to watch product demos or sample equipment can't easily be mimicked on a laptop -- so consumers may be more motivated to leave their homes and head to Dick's despite having gotten used to pointing and clicking their way to different purchases."

    KC's View:

    No matter what kind of retailer you are, if you want people to get off their couches and away from their computers and actually come to the store, you have to offer them something different than they can get in an online experience.

    That seems fairly elementary, but there are a lot of retailers out there that don't embrace the challenge and opportunity of creating fundamentally different experiences as a way of being competitive.  In the food business, which can be highly sensory, there is no excuse for not using this advantage to get people into the store.

    Published on: March 29, 2021

    Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    • In the United States, there now have been a total of 30,962,803 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 562,526 deaths and 23,410,884 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 127,863,519 coronavirus cases, with 2,797,662 resultant fatalities, and 103,062,026 reported recoveries.   (Source.)

    •  The Washington Post  reports this morning that "at least 93.6 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the U.S.  This includes more than 48.5 million people who have been fully vaccinated … 180.6 million doses have been distributed.

    •  From the Wall Street Journal:

    "Newly reported Covid-19 cases in the U.S. were down from a day earlier, following a surge in reported infections last week.

    "The U.S. reported more than 43,000 new cases for Sunday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and published early Monday morning, Eastern time. That number might update later in the morning. It was down from 62,062 a day earlier but up from 33,766 a week earlier.

    "Cases have surged recently, with the U.S. reporting 86,947 on Wednesday and 77,339 on Friday. While down from January’s highs of around 300,000, cases have remained above 50,000 since March 22 and above 60,000 for the four days preceding Sunday, reversing a downward trend that had lasted since March 2."

    •  CBS News reports that "Dr. Anthony Fauci … warned Sunday the nation could be at risk of a new surge of COVID-19 infections as the number of daily cases in the U.S. has remained at a plateau.  'When you're coming down from a big peak and you reach a point and start to plateau, once you stay at that plateau, you're really in danger of a surge coming up,' Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with 'Face the Nation'.  'And unfortunately, that's what we're starting to see'."

    •  From the Washington Post:

    "The Biden administration and private companies are working to develop a standard way of handling credentials - often referred to as 'vaccine passports' -  that would allow Americans to prove they have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as businesses try to reopen.

    "The effort has gained momentum amid President Biden’s pledge that the nation will start to regain normalcy this summer and with a growing number of companies - from cruise lines to sports teams - saying they will require proof of vaccination before opening their doors again.

    The administration’s initiative has been driven largely by arms of the Department of Health and Human Services, including an office devoted to health information technology, said five officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the effort."

    According to the story, "The passports are expected to be free and available through applications for smartphones, which could display a scannable code similar to an airline boarding pass. Americans without smartphone access should be able to print out the passports, developers have said … U.S. officials say they are grappling with an array of challenges, including data privacy and health-care equity. They want to make sure all Americans will be able to get credentials that prove they have been vaccinated, but also want to set up systems that are not easily hacked or passports that cannot be counterfeited, given that forgeries are already starting to appear."

    •  The Wall Street Journal writes that "to achieve the vaccination rates that health authorities are aiming for, the shots must eventually reach the arms of children and teenagers, too.

    "Children aren’t going to be vaccinated for several months at least, however, because drugmakers are still testing shots in younger ages.

    "That means health authorities can’t be confident of securing community protection against the virus, known as herd immunity, until later this year at the earliest, because children under 18 make up a significant proportion of many countries’ populations."

    Published on: March 29, 2021

    We had a discussion here on MNB last week about how people are trying to deal with the pandemic weight gain that so many of us experienced.

    Which is why I thought it was interesting over the weekend when Stew Leonard Jr. sent out his usual weekly email, which included a link to a video in which he talked with a specialist about his own desire to lose weight and endeavored to offer customers a series of ideas for how to accomplish their own weight losses.

    One of the things that works best about the piece is how personal it is … it goes beyond the simple act of selling food and creates a sense of connection between the shopkeeper and shopper.   It's really effective, I think, when the person whose name is on the door is accessible and is dealing with the same issues that many customers are.  (He wants to drop some pounds before he walks one of his daughters down the aisle this summer.)

    Published on: March 29, 2021

    With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  Reuters reports that "the trade union Verdi has called for workers at six Amazon sites in Germany to go on strike from Sunday evening for four days in the latest attempt to try to force the U.S. e-commerce group to recognise collective bargaining agreements.

    "Verdi said the strikes at Amazon's sites in Rheinberg, Werne, Koblenz, Leipzig and at two locations in Bad Hersfeld signalled an 'unofficial start' to wage talks for the retail and mail order industry, which are due to begin in the next few weeks."

    The story notes that "Amazon has faced a long-running battle with unions in Germany over better pay and conditions for logistics workers, who have frequently staged strikes since 2013 … Amazon says it offers excellent pay and benefits. It has said during past calls for strikes over 90% of employees in the logistic centres worked as normal."

    •  From the Wall Street Journal this morning:

    "The small waterfront community of Red Hook, in Brooklyn, is home to a cruise terminal, a 346,000-square-foot Ikea store and one of two Tesla showrooms in New York City.

    "Some residents say they have managed to coexist with a variety of large commercial footprints but have concerns about two future neighbors. Amazon. com Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc. both have plans for package-and-delivery hubs in the area to keep up with skyrocketing e-commerce demand. Other package-distribution sites in the area could be on the way, according to local elected officials."

    The story goes on:  "Some residents said fleets of trucks and sprinter vans coming in and out will increase congestion on the neighborhood’s narrow roads, many of which are in disrepair. Surrounded by water on three sides and bordered by an often-clogged expressway, Red Hook has only a few ways for trucks to enter the neighborhood.

    "Amazon and UPS said they are committed to being good neighbors, communicating with residents and mitigating the impact of their delivery hubs on traffic congestion and pollution."

    Saying that Tesla and Ikea are okay, but you don't want Amazon, strikes me as reminiscent of the great scene in Blazing Saddles where the citizens of Rock Ridge say which ethnic groups they're willing to accept and which one they are not.  (I can't quote the scene or even link to it - it is so politically incorrect by 2021 standards that I'd get roasted.  In fact, I'll probably even get criticized for mentioning it, and the fact that I think it remains a supremely funny cinema moment.)

    Published on: March 29, 2021

    •  In the UK, "Asda has begun a discounting push and overhaul of its product ranges as the billionaire Issa brothers put their stamp on Britain’s number three supermarket.

    "The chain told customers this month that it had slashed the prices of some ranges including desserts and baking products. More cuts are expected to be introduced as early as next week, industry sources said. Some product ranges are meanwhile due to be pared backed by as much a quarter.

    "The moves come after Asda said it would invest £100m in discounts and advertising as the price wars between grocers heat up against a tough economic backdrop for consumers.  The Issa brothers, backed by private equity firm TDR, are understood to want to focus on low prices to go head-to-head with the German discounters Aldi and Lidl."

    Published on: March 29, 2021

    Larry McMurtry, who in addition to writing more than 30 novels (including "Lonesome Dove") and 30 screenplays (such as Brokeback Mountain) also was a working independent bookstore owner, passed away last week.  He was 84, and died of congestive heart failure.

    In its obituary, the New York Times writes, "For some 50 years, Mr. McMurtry was … a serious antiquarian bookseller. His bookstore in Archer City (Texas), Booked Up, is one of America’s largest. It once occupied six buildings and contained some 400,000 volumes. In 2012 Mr. McMurtry auctioned off two-thirds of those books and planned to consolidate. About leaving the business to his heirs, he said: 'One store is manageable. Four stores would be a burden.'

    "Mr. McMurtry’s private library alone held some 30,000 books and was spread over three houses. He called compiling it a life’s work, 'an achievement equal to if not better than my writings themselves'."

    Those writings were considerable, and included the novels "Terms of Endearment," "The Last Picture Show," “Cadillac Jack," “Somebody’s Darling," and “The Desert Rose."

    Published on: March 29, 2021

    Last week we took note of a Financial Times report that Amazon went before the Texas Supreme Court to maintain that it isn't"realistic" to expect it to vet all the products sold on its platform, and should not be responsible if items sold on the site hurt the people who buy them.

    According to FT, "The court will determine whether Amazon should be considered liable after a 19-month-old child was left severely injured when she ingested a lithium battery from a remote control sold by a Chinese seller on the platform, which the plaintiffs argued failed to meet industry safety standards. In this case and others, Amazon has argued it is a middleman between the millions of third-party sellers on its site and the consumers who buy products."

    I commented:

    Not a lawyer, so my ability to make a legal judgment about responsibility in such cases is severely limited.

    But I've long believed - and have stated here - that retailers ought to be responsible for the things they sell.

    Amazon's argument seems to be that it is too vast with too many vendors and third-party marketers to be able to held responsible.  But that doesn't seem to be entirely fair … if you are going to tout yourself as the "everything store," it follows that you have to embrace the positives and negatives of that position.  You can't just pick and choose.  (Well, you can try…)

    In the end, I'd argue, it actually is good business - and essentially customer-centric - for Amazon is embrace these responsibilities, despite the cost.  It inspires confidence.  Playing pass-the-buck does not.

    Got lots of responses to this story and commentary.

    MNB reader Chris Hansen wrote:

    Most retailers take a very similar position when products result in injury claims. The supplier vetting process typically includes a review of the supplier’s financial strength, a requirement that the supplier indemnify the retailer for product liability, and a requirement that the supplier maintain adequate product liability insurance naming the retailer as an additional insured on the policy.  When product claims arise, the retailer directs the customer to the supplier (in a nice way) keeping pressure on the supplier to resolve the matter.  If things turn ugly and the retailer is named in a suit, it has legal protection from the indemnity agreement and financial protection from the supplier’s insurance policy. This risk transfer technique has been effectively used for many years.  

    I suppose the distinction Amazon is making is that they are even more removed from the customer transaction because they are simply a marketplace and not an actual retailer, like a flea market with many vendors under one tent. 

    Another MNB reader wrote:

    If Amazon were to require “hold harmless’ guarantees from their many suppliers one of two things would happen:  The sellers would do it thus getting Amazon off the hook or the sellers (many in China) would agree but then not do it putting Amazon on the hook.  It is more interesting that Amazon does  not have the guarantees.  I think that many of the sellers on Amazon are not legal entities and would fold their tents with any problem.  Amazon’s position of just offering a platform is similar to a building owner saying he is not responsible that the business conducted in his building is prostitution.  That the US does not have standards like most other countries is an open invitation to injuries such as described.  The US enforces quality with lawsuits but try suing a foreign supplier.

    MNB reader Eric Williams wrote:

    As a long time reader I really like your pieces and appreciate your comments about the liability of businesses regarding the products that they sell.  I tend to agree with your point that they should; however, this is a slippery slope.  If we put this into the context of the world you and I know well, Grocery, should a grocery store be responsible for the lettuce that they sell if it happens to contain listeria and some number of people die.  The store did not grow the lettuce, they did not truck it to the warehouse, etc.  They took ownership and had an expectation that the grower and packer followed all of the Federal/State requirements. When do you say that businesses should or should not be responsible for the products that they sell?

    I don’t know either.

    MNB reader Tim McGuire wrote:

    While I am sympathetic to the argument that Amazon should be held responsible for quality and safety of products sold on their marketplace, I’m not sure it can be done.  If I was an Amazon lawyer, I would argue that Amazon is effectively an online shopping mall landlord, renting (virtual) store space to retail “tenants”.  Do we hold Simon Properties or other mall operators liable for the quality and safety of the products sold by retail tenants in their malls?  If not, how can Amazon (or any other marketplace operator) be held to a different standard?  

    MNB reader Rich Heiland wrote:

    My membership is with Amazon Prime. I shop on the Amazon web site. I pay zero attention to who is providing the actual product. While Amazon may view itself as the facilitator of transactions I would argue it has worked very hard to establish itself as, in fact, a dominant retailer. If I walk into Walmart and buy a product I don't like, does Walmart duck responsibility? 

    MNB reader Dave Wendland wrote:

    I found this discussion especially interesting, Kevin. Although I agree that there is “responsibility” on the part of any retailer to vet its partners and suppliers, however, it is my opinion that accountability and liability is the manufacturer’s domain. It’s a very slippery slope if Amazon becomes the target of such litigation … the snowball effect will become overwhelming and change the face of the retailer’s role (which I tend to side with Amazon on – they are the middleman facilitating an exchange of goods).

    Seems to be a very spirited debate and it will be interesting to see which side the courts land on.

    And from another reader:

    So their defense is: we are too big to fail. Where have we heard that before…?

    Interesting debate.  I'm just glad we're talking about something other than the pandemic.

    There also was a story from Axios last week that "there's a growing push among federal lawmakers for a road user fee to fund highway repairs," a move that conceivably increase costs for any business the depends on trucks for interstate transportation.

    You know, like the supermarket industry.  Or any national retailer.  Or shipping business.  Or national retailer that also happens to be in the shipping business.

    Here's how it might work:  "A vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) system … would charge drivers a penny or two for each mile logged behind the wheel.Drivers would report their mileage electronically, using a plug-in device in their cars or a smartphone app."

    One MNB reader responded:

    In many parts of the country this is the purpose of a toll road or turnpike. We take a turnpike as we drive through parts of Kansas, for a fee you get rest areas with clean bathrooms, gas and food. You don't have to slow down for towns and it is at least 4 lanes. In parts of Oklahoma the same, in other parts of Oklahoma you come upon a toll booth that has no rhyme or reason but there it is you pay the toll and keep on driving.

    I am sure the Feds will come up with some way to exact a tax to pay for infrastructure. Just one more consequence of one advancement having ripples that maybe no one considered at the time. Time to stop making buggy whips and start working on the next thing.

    From another MNB reader:

    Pay as you go may not truly work if you begin to ask all electric car owners to start logging miles.  Something simpler, pay as you charge instead.  Meter the charging stations that charge the vehicle.  The meter would be available on a commercial and residential scale.  I wonder how loud the “Green Heads” would yell when they now have to pay for clean air.

    I've driven cross country a number of times, from Connecticut to the Pacific Northwest, and one of the things that amazed me was that I didn't run into any tolls west of Illinois.  And I did find myself wondering how they were paying for the roads, and would pay for inevitable repairs and replacement in the future.

    The thing about tolls is, they can avoided in a lot of places.  A tax based on actual miles driven might actually be fairer.

    But I'm open to suggestions to the contrary.

    But one MNB reader isn't buying:

    Just one more way for the Government to track where we go.

    I recommended the Australian movie Rams last Friday, which led MNB reader David Carlson to write:

    If you enjoyed the Australian remake, the Icelandic original from 2015 is also worth a look.

    I'll keep it in mind.

    My wine of the week last Friday was the 2019 Il Pumo Primitivo, a red wine from Salento, in Southern Italy, from the Cantine San Marzano winery.

    MNB reader Carl Jorgensen offered much more context than I did:

    Another great southern Italian wine recommendation! It’s one of our favorites, and has an interesting history.

    According to Wikipedia, “Primitivo probably arrived to Puglia from the coastal vineyards of Croatia (just across the Adriatic Sea), where it is still grown today, under various tongue-twisting names including Tribidrag and Crljenak Kasteljanski. In the early 19th Century, the variety was introduced to the United States, under the name Zinfandel. It proved extremely successful there, earning a reputation as the American 'national grape'. It caused significant consternation on both sides of the Atlantic when DNA analysis proved that Zinfandel and Primitivo were the same variety.”

    It's what I love about MNB.  Every day I learn something.