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Jeremy Roberts: Tired of falling back? Marco Rubio may be your only hope

Commentary

Sigh. Here we go again.

On Sunday, November 5th the clocks will roll back in the proverbial “fall back” and we will be returned to standard time. Yes, we will gain an extra hour of sleep. But at what cost?

Our circadian rhythms will be thrown off balance. We’ll see an increase in car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and accident-related injuries at work. Customer-facing businesses will see a decrease in economic activity.

When your alarm goes off, you won’t wake to daylight. Instead, you’ll be getting up in darkness, stumbling around your home trying to adjust old analog and digital clocks. And don’t get me started on changing the car clock…

It’s all rather dreary.

I wish I had better news for our Hub readers this Fall. When I wrote my last update on the fight to end the bi-annual time change back in March, I wrote that “hope may be on the horizon.”

As of that article, Ontario had passed the Time Amendment Act, my Bill which would bring Ontario into permanent Daylight Savings Time (DST) thereby ending the bi-annual time change and giving residents extra hours of daylight in the afternoon. However, we were in a holding pattern: my Bill requires coordination with Quebec and New York State. Unfortunately, the participation of New York State complicates this.

Nineteen U.S. states have enacted legislation to bring about permanent DST. New York is not yet one of them. In some hopeful news, this past year a Bill was introduced in the New York State Assembly, Bill A03535, which would aim to move them into permanent DST. However, it is currently held up at committee and hasn’t progressed to a vote.

But, like Ontario’s Bill, there’s a catch: the New York Bill will only take effect if Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania pass similar legislation. In other words, our fate in Ontario is now tied up with six other states (plus Quebec, which also hasn’t progressed on this matter).

With 19 states wishing to move to permanent DST, one would be forgiven for feeling slightly optimistic. Surely with almost two-fifths of the states on board, consensus is getting closer? Unfortunately, there’s another condition at play. States that have passed legislation to adopt permanent DST cannot bring that legislation into force because of a pesky U.S. federal law, the Uniform Time Act, which controls what states can and cannot do about their time.

Last year, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio passed the bipartisan Sunshine Protection Act through the Senate, which would grant states this permission. As of writing, it is currently languishing in the House Committee on Energy & Commerce. Given the U.S. House of Representatives’ recent inability to elect a Speaker, I wouldn’t rate my level of optimism high, but there is some hope.

If you’re still keeping up with this complex web of conditions, congrats! I can barely keep up myself.

In summary: for us to get permanent DST in Ontario, we need Quebec and New York to do the same. For New York to get permanent DST, they need their five neighbouring states to also agree. For all six of those states to get permanent DST, they need Marco Rubio’s federal bill to be passed. Everyone is waiting on someone.

That’s why, for the next six months, I’m going to stick my hopes on the bipartisan Sunshine Protection Act. My hope is that if the U.S. can pass legislation allowing states to make their own choice, it will start a movement across the U.S. that could spill over into Canada.

The time is long since up on the time change. It’s time for some bold action.

Hub readers: if you want to see an end to the time change and have friends and family in the U.S., share this article with them! Ask them to contact their local representatives. In this age of increased polarization, I think that this issue can bring us all together.

Malcolm Jolley: When it comes to drinking wine, the where (and the who) matters as much as the what

Commentary

In Alba on the Piazza Duomo with the cathedral lit up behind me on a warm Monday evening at the end of May, I study the Carta dei Vini with great intent and some small amount of panic. I am dining al fresco with my eldest son, on break from university, at La Piola, one of my very favourite restaurants in the world. We have had a glass each of Roero Arneis from Ceretto, the label that also owns the restaurant. But, now it’s time to get serious and order a bottle of red to take us through dinner.

I would like to impress him—and impress on him—that we are in one of the centres of the Wine Universe, and beyond the carne crudo, bagna cauda, agnolotti del plin, and tajarin, the bottle of wine fetched from the hallowed cellars of the osteria should above all express a “taste of place” of the Langhe region of Piedmont.

The stakes are high; higher maybe than the budget. Barolo or Barbaresco would seem to be a pricey path of least resistance. But kind of boring, since the names of the houses I know best are wines that can be had back home. I start looking at the front of the list of reds for the local red wine grapes that are exotic in Canada: Freisa, Pelaverga, Dolcetto… And then I see the name: Accomasso.

Lorenzo Accomasso, Commandatore of the Italian Republic, is something of a wino celebrity. Though, at 89 years of age, Accomasso is a celebrity in the way that J.D. Salinger was a literary celebrity: despite himself. Something of a recluse, Accamasso is known for defying all forms of fashion, and, having survived all trends affecting winemaking in the Langhe, has stuck to the way he has made wine since he was a young man.

Or so we think. Walter Speller, who is the chief critic of Italian wine for jancisrobinson.com and has met Accomasso several times, writes: “It is…complicated to learn anything about Accomasso, not least because he doesn’t allow anyone to see his cellar.” There’s nothing like a bit of mystery to pique curiosity.

I’d never tasted Accomasso’s wines. I’m not sure if they’re even available for sale in Canada. An internet search suggests they are not. But, I knew of Accomasso because I had seen him interviewed in restaurateur and winemaker Joe Bastianich’s 2014 documentary film Barolo Boys, and heard his conversation on top New York City sommelier Levi Dalton’s podcast I’ll Drink To That. Here was a chance to taste something of what I had seen and heard. I wouldn’t be the first or last person to choose a wine based on this kind of mediated knowledge.

I gave my order to our waiter, but the bottle arrived in the arms of a young and dashing sommelier. I took this as a good sign. Had I tried this wine before? No, I had not, but I knew of the maker. He smiled and looked at me wisely and knowingly so that I felt as though the world had reversed and I was twenty years younger than him. I was relieved to hear that I had made a good choice and this was one of their last bottles.

He was right. The wine was fantastic, though it was unlike any Dolcetto I have had before or since. It was more like an old Barolo, strangely full of tertiary or third-order flavours like leather and smoke, but on top of a crystal clear crimson cherry note that stayed on resonated. I would have been smugly happy with myself for actually impressing Alec across from me, but the only emotions I was capable of after the first sip were humility and greed for another mouthful.

I thought of that glass of 2020 Dolcetto this week when another glass from the Langhe was put in front of me at the end of a “master class” seminar at the annual Italian Trade Commission tasting in Toronto. This glass was also very good. But context in wine is everything, and 11:30 in the morning at a desk in a row of wine trade colleagues is not as magical as 10 in the evening in the piazza on a father-son getaway to Northern Italy.

In any event, the 2018 Borgogno Barolo Cannubi was absolutely delicious, and drinking very finely for a relatively young wine of this type. Light but also deep; redolent of dark red fruit, what the English might call “hedgerow.” If I had had an expense account on the piazza, it would have also made a deep impression, just as it was doing under much brighter lights.

The Borgogno was the sixth and final wine of a flight meant to illustrate the theme of the master class entitled “Geographic Precision: Understanding Italy’s Latest UGA’s, MGA’s, Contrada’s, and Pieve’s.” The lecture was given, and the wines were chosen by, Master Sommelier John Szabo, who expertly navigated his audience of several dozen wine pros through the intricacies of Italian wine label rules. (It may not surprise those with a passing familiarity with Italian wine that what can be put on a label to describe where a wine comes from in that country is complicated.)

Cannubi is a famous (for cork dorks) hill in Barolo, and wines from there have been celebrated for their higher quality since the 19th century. I’ll save the tale of my Maserati morning in Barolo for another column, but the 2018 Borgogno wine made me think of the 2020 Accomasso Dolcetto because I remembered looking out the backseat window of a speeding car, on my way uphill from Alba to Vergne, to catch a glimpse of the distinctive Borgogno typeface on a sign announcing their Cannubi vineyard. Ah, I thought, I must be passing through Cannubi, now I know where it is.

That sign will be a touchstone and marker for the wine for some time, but maybe the seminar will be too. The mediated idea of Commandatore Accomasso will also be a touchstone and motivator to find more of his wine, but the rawer memory of dinner with my son will loom larger going forward.

It’s funny that there are fights about what can and cannot go onto a label on a bottle of wine when the real power of the words rests in the memories they trigger. May we all collect many more of the pleasant ones across the table from family and friends.