April 8, 2017 § Leave a comment
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We could have chatted for sometime as we really didn’t get o deep into some of the issues, but one thing was clear is that Mr. Yap, BC Liberal MLA for Richmond-Steveston, an MLA for the supposed free enterprise party, staunchly supports continuing the current hybrid retail system and problematic distribution system.
For those that have listened to the show over the last year or so, you know that I strongly believe that fixing distribution is key to long term liquor reform and the creation of a truly level playing field.
The current system that supports the LDB’s monopoly on the distribution of imported wines, beers & spirits, is broken. By broken I mean costing the government $300M/year in lost taxes because of unfulfilled orders.
How to fix it is remarkably simple, but first let’s look at the biggest problem to solve – capacity.
The current distribution centres we built to handle $1B/annum of volume. 2017 will see $3B in volume go through. What this means is that some orders just can’t get filled because there is no space to accommodate the stock needed. So what was the LDB/BC Liberal solution. Spend $1B in building a larger facility in Delta.
The fact is that all the BC Liberals had to do was to pass an order in council that allowed suppliers to choose their distributor. There are a number of private & bonded distributors that are nowhere near capacity and would gladly take on the extra work. Not all suppliers would move, but a good number would because they value the 10% growth they automatically get.
Secondly this would speed up delivery times. No longer would a product ordered by a store in Richmond have to leave the bonded warehouse (ContainerWorld, Hillebrand) in Richmond, go to the LDB warehouse in Vancouver, only to be shipped to the store in Richmond.
Third, and this is the bonus, the government would not have to re-purpose any workers at the LDB Warehouse. The only thing that would change is that they have the capacity to fill the orders they get.
There are other things that such a change would involve and I would be happy to share those if you like. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pick Of The Week
Paul Mas Valmont Rouge 1L
In October I took a couple of bottles of the Paul Mas Valmont Blanc to Mom and Dad’s for Thanksgiving dinner and they were a big hit, so when I saw the Rouge version, I thought I would give it a whirl and I am very glad that I did.
This blend of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah shows classic Languedoc aromas and flavours of black cherry, plums, dried herbs and black pepper spice.
This is a medium bodied wine that is very well balanced. What that means is that the flavour, the body and finish all worked together. It wasn’t flabby, or light, or short or tannic and bitter. It showed fresh ripe fruit, savoury spices with a delightfully fruit filled finish.
I would, and will, pair this with roasted chicken, and beef stews. As for cheese, go with a Gruyere or Ementhal.
Grapes ~ Grenache, Carignan, Syrah
Country of Origin ~ France
Region ~ Languedoc
Price ~ $11.79 1L
Score ~ 8.5/10 – Over Delivers
Purchased At ~ BC Liquor Store Langford
July 11, 2016 § Leave a comment
Heading out of town? Going camping or to the cottage? One of the smartest ways to take wine with you is to take a box of wine; yes a box of wine.
I know the impression is that box wine is total plonk, but here in BC, that is because we have always only known plonk to be in box. The fact is there are a number of great options that provide outstanding value.
For those that don’t know the bag in the box (BIB) format, it is the best way to keep wine fresh over time, it is much lighter to transport than the equivalent number of bottles, and you are typically receiving a volume discount.
When it comes to camping, I like to find wines that will pair well, perhaps not perfectly, but well with classic camping meals. For example we always have hot dogs and beans on the first night, followed by evening meals of chicken, steak, fish and sausage. So we need something that is incredibly versatile in order to make the purchase worthwhile.
To that end here are some of the best values on the market that are versatile, cost effective and damn good.
Vina Borgia Garnacha 3L ~ $35+
This Spanish Garnacha is made by the same people that bring you Borsao Garnacha which gets 90+ point ratings every year and is truly delicious.
3L equals 4 x 750ml bottles thus your average price/bottle is $8.74. Compare that to $13.99 for the equivalent bottle!
Available only in private stores.
Radio Boka Garnacha 3L ~ $35
Again, Spanish Garnacha and really juicy! Ripe raspberry, blueberry and plum. You really can’t go wrong here. Pairs beautifully with grilled chicken, pork, beef, and of course hot dogs and beans.
The bottle equivalent cost is also $8.74.
Available in both private and public stores.
Carawine Rosso 3L ~ $33
This southern Italian blend includes Negroamaro, Primitivo and Merlot and is black in the glass. A little less boozy than the two above, but equally as versatile. Flavours of black cherry, plum, blackberry and pastry. It’s also pretty cool packaging that will get the people in the next campsite asking questions.
The bottle equivalent cost is $8.25
Available in public stores only.
Carawine Bianco 3L ~ $33
This is a fruit driven white blend is really lively and bright. A blend of Chardonnay, Tebbiano and Pinot Grigio, this is a very versatile white. It’s a great pairing for everything but steak, but if you can’t drink red this is pretty damn good.
Bottle equivalent cost is $8.25
Available in public stores only.
Have a great time camping or at the cottage and please drink responsibly!
December 16, 2015 § 2 Comments
This just in….
1500 cases, about 18,000 bottles, arrived into the LDB warehouse yesterday & today, sparking a feeding frenzy worthy of Shark Week.
It took a collective 4.5 minutes for all 1500 cases to sell out.
Anytime you have a scarce resource that is in big demand there are winners and losers and the word on the street is that some stores will have tons of stock and others will have zero as limiting the size of orders only came into play with the last 300+ cases.
The chances are that you will start to see stock show up in some BC Liquor Stores in the coming days and private stores starting next week (Government stores get multiple deliveries from the LDB warehouse each week, whereas most private stores only receive 1 order/week from the LDB warehouse).
If it were me and absolutely needed to get a bottle or two to finish off my Christmas list, I would wait until Monday or Tuesday when the traffic is better and the stores won’t be as crowded… but that is just me.
The Dork UnCorked
November 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
One of the things I truly love about my journey through the world of wine, is having my ‘knowledge’ challenged. It seems that as humans, in order to form an opinion we must collect a few seeds of ‘solid’ knowledge on a subject. From these seeds grows our beliefs of what is true. This was my introduction to the grape Graciano. It was early on in my journey and the seeds planted were from the proprietor of Rioja based winery.
Rioja is a region in the north of Spain and is certainly world renowned. The wines are governed by the rules of Denominacion de Origen Califcada (DOC) and at the time to be called Rioja the wine must be a blend of Tempranillo, Mazuelo and Graciano, with Tempranillo making up at least 60% of the blend. Graciano traditionally made up a fraction of the blend. Why? Well as the proprietor told me Graciano on its own “tastes like wet woolly socks at worst and dry wooly socks dipped in plum juice at best.” It has been almost 20 years since then, but I have continued to hold true that Graciano was nothing to get excited about. That was until last week.
I was happily walking through one of my local stores looking for the unusual, the lesser known, because my experience has always told me that this is where you find the best deals. A very nice staff person that I trust to point me in the right direction suggested that I try the Rio Madre 2012 Rioja Graciano.
Price Paid: $14.99
Notes: Pleasure is part of the fabric of being who we are and thus as our lives weave the tapestry that will be our story, different things provide pleasure. I have spent the last couple of years shedding the shackles of the expected and making a living by changing longstanding truths and behaviours. In other words life has been a wild, fully flavoured ride. As good as this sounds, a wild ride doesn’t always meet ones needs or desires.
I pulled open the cork and let the wine breathe for about 15 minutes and poured a generous glass – it had been a wilder day than normal – and I immersed myself in the aromas. There is indeed a wildness to the wine, but also a timeless, natural beauty. Aromas of black fruits, plums and floral tones blend with the untamed spicy essence of drylands.
The body of the wine is rich but balanced. As the wine washes over your tongue you will get the sense of wild fruit like blackberries found in the back woods at the end of a long dry summer, combined with refined layers of plum, spice and a hint of hickory.
I really really enjoyed this wine and highly recommend it to others, especially those feeling a glint of excitement from the wild side of life.
Rating: 8.25/10 ~ Over Delivers
Purchased From: BC Liquor Stores
Section of the Store: Spain
If you happen to try this wine, please let me know what you think, and if you have any questions or want a specific wine researched, drop me a line.
November 6, 2015 § Leave a comment
Wine is not a commodity. I know this isn’t a revelation but there seems to be a lot of people who assume that every 90+ point wine is going to blow their hair back or that a 90+ point wine priced at $15 is better than a 90+ point wine priced at $25. The reality is that your mood and the scenario within which you will be tasting the wine play a huge role in your value judgement of the wine. With that in mind I have decided to another nuance to my reviews, that being motivations.
Motivations: It’s been a hard week and its a dreary wet, chilling Friday. I could either go with something that is moody, a little stormy, heavy and brooding, or exactly the opposite; something bright, vibrant and juicy.
Dinner is a Turkey casserole the recipe of which came from a neighbour as a great way to enjoy Turkey leftovers. So the wine will have to work well with Turkey, gravy, stuffing, peas, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.
Decision: Moody & Stormy – Tinto Negro 2012 Uco Valley Malbec
Store Section: Argentina
The Wine: The Uco Valley is one of my favourite regions in the world. It isn’t that far away from other wine growing areas surrounding Mendoza in Argentina. The wines offer amazing complexity and layers while being priced as well as others, and the Tinto Negro is no different.
The nose shows dark fruit with violets, hints of smoke, spice and cured meats, while the palate is full, multi-layered and round. The finish shows off the richness of the fruit along with subtle spice and floral tones. Overall this wine is a great wine for a slow moving, dreary evening and brooding, heavy mood.
Value: 8.7 – Over Delivers
Added Value: This has added value when paired with Movie Night, Comfort Foods, and dark misty nights.
Purchased At: BC Liquor Stores
September 9, 2015 § 2 Comments
Score: 8.8 ~ Over Delivers
There is a great deal of animosity and distrust between private liquor retailers and the government run, BC Liquor Stores, so it isn’t very often that I get a tip on a great buy from a private retailer about a wine than can only be had at BC Liquor Stores.
Based on the recommendation by my colleague I rushed over to the nearest BC Liquor Store that I knew carried the Simple Life Pinot Noir and grabbed a bottle. Man was I happy that I did.
The nose shows cherry, pomegranate, a hint of cola and white pepper, while the palate if richly textured and full of flavour. That said there are a number of Pinot’s under $20 that can produce similar olfactory and taste enjoyment, but to me, the real test comes in the finish. If it shows the silky, seductive finish of top quality Burgundy, New Zealand, BC, Oregon and California Pinot Noir, then deserves high praise indeed.
Although not as pronounced as its brethren in the $25-$45 price range, this Pinot has a wonderful silky finish that puts it, in my opinion, well above other Pinot Noir under and over $20 in terms of value. If I were you I would be buying this wine by the case now so that you have it on hand at Thanksgiving, my Wife’s 40th birthday (yes you are all invited, but you have to bring a bottle of Simple Life Pinot), and Christmas, as I don’t imagine there will be much of it around in a few months.
Purchased From: BC Liquor Stores
Section: California and/or Exclusives
Food: Have this with roasted poultry, mild cheeses like gouda, soups, duck.
September 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
There are many food pairings for this wine, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that this wine is best paired with a specific mood. I recently found myself in a place where I was at once excited about the possibilities of the future but at the same feeling a little apprehensive, pensive and perhaps dark. This wine has a ton of things going on in it and it expresses a number of emotions as a result.
I first gravitated to it because I met the people responsible for this wine in Argentina and we had a lengthy conversation about Corvina and how it could do in Argentina, and what wonderful things could come of a blend with Malbec.
Once you pull the cork you get the sense of a brooding dark wine, but once it washes over your palate you a brightened and refreshed. I think everyone has gone through, or is going through some dark times, and it is a testament to human creativity that most of the time we emerge in a happier place. This is what this wine tastes like.
Fruit flavours of dark plum, leather, red cherry and hints of blueberry. A dark almost dusty mid palate finishes bright and refreshing.
Granted this wine will not be for everyone and that is why I didn’t give it the highest of rankings, however if you are in the mood to see a brighter future, or at least taste it, this might just become your favourite wine.
Purchased At: BC Liquor Stores
Foods: Roasted chicken and lean red meats. Cheeses, hearty breads, also excellent with a simple grilled cheese.
Grapes: Malbec, Corvina
August 27, 2015 § 1 Comment
Bordeaux has always been a mystery of sorts to me. My first experiences with it, unlike those of Chianti Classico, were not impressive at all. I found the wines, that I could afford, to be thin, tannic and not worthy of the heaps of praise and pretty penny the wines of Bordeaux receive. That is until I tried the great wines of Bordeaux and I quickly found out that if you are willing to pay top dollar ($800-$3000/bottle) you will always get a wonderful wine, however it is only in the best of Bordeaux vintages, does the lovely seductive body, perfumes and flavours of classic Bordeaux, transcend to the affordability of the everyday.
I spent a Sunday morning reading what I think is the world’s best wine periodical, Decanter, and it was all about Bordeaux. As my mouth started to water I took the decision to enjoy a bottle of Bordeaux that very evening. Being a relative neophyte I contacted a friend of mine who makes a living at choosing the great from the average in Bordeaux. She counselled me to select the 2012 instead of the 2011 and I am glad that I did.
The 2012 Chateau Pey La Tour is a fine wine and a very enjoyable expression of the ‘Right Bank’ (Merlot focussed) wines of Bordeaux. Lovely aromas, good body, supple long finish, complexity of flavours and structure. Yup enjoyable, however at close to $20 I’m expecting more than what I would get out of a Bordelaise wines like Chateau de Courtleliac ($13) or Chateau La Gorce ($13). I really liked it, was thankful for the experience, but as an everyday wine the value is in the lower priced wines.
Purchased At: BC Liquor Stores
Food: Steak, roasted red meats, hearty casseroles; Foodie Wine
Grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon
August 25, 2015 § Leave a comment
Full disclosure, Chianti and Chianti Classico is a true love of mine. I’m not sure how or when, but the supple texture, rich seductive body, cherry flavours, floral elements along with savoury spices are a baseline for me. I can easily sink into a glass of Chianti Classico like a great book.
$20+ for Chianti Classico is t be expected and thus I’m looking for it to deliver more than a simple Chianti or Sangiovese at $15. When I say more I don’t mean more density or stronger flavours, rather I’m looking for greater complexity of flavours and structure. I’m looking for find more flavours and flavours that work together. I’m looking for a more supple and seductive bottle that what I am likely to find in a $15 wine. Sadly I didn’t find that here. Don’t get me wrong, there is lots to like and love in this wine, but it is not that dissimilar to the flavours and texture found in regular Chiantis such as Gabbiano, Cecchi and Frescobaldi.
Purchased At: BC Liquor Stores
Foods: Pastas, Pizza, roasted chicken or pork, hard cheeses, comfort foods and foodie foods.
August 20, 2015 § Leave a comment
I get a strong sense that consumers are starting to look for more finesse in their wines. They are starting to move away from the big boozy juice bombs that laden the liquor store shelves. Inevitably this leads the consumer to European wines for the most part and if that path leads to Italy it likely means tasting wines made from grapes that are not household names. This wine is just such an offering.
It hails from the Alto Adige region of Northern which is nestled in the Dolomite mountains, and is a blend of Teroldego, Lagrein and Merlot. See what I mean. I have been tasting wines for 20+ years and I can only recall tasting Lagrein once or twice and I have never had the pleasure of tasting Teroldego.
I poured a glass right after pulling the cork. I loved the perfumed, berry, floral nose but the wine seemed really shy on the palate to the point where only its structure was at play. I put the wine aside for a couple of days and that did the trick. Clearly this is a wine that needs a lot of breathing (Vinturi, decanting, or simply leaving it open for a good amount of time) because it totally opened up and showed bright fresh berry and plum fruit flavours along with floral and spicy notes. The finish didn’t show any of the harsh tannins I noted on the first pass. I loved this wine… after a few days.
I would have scored this wine higher but the reality is that most people want to dive into their bottle and don’t purchase their wine to have two nights from now. So in terms of real life value its okay. In terms of cork dork value, this is awesome!
Purchased At: BC Liquor Stores
Food: Steak, roasted meats, cheeses, rustic breads. Could work for Foodie foods and comfort foods.