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 email@example.com.
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
April 1, 2017 § Leave a comment
One of the my favourite things to do when in the ‘wine store’ is to scour the shelves in the dark corners. Every store has them and the typical retailer places slow-moving items there.
I find that this is also where you find some great deals, and that is how I came across this weeks wonderful find.
As most of you know I have a great love for Grenache and Grenache blends, so when I saw the Jas du Lauzon languishing in a dark corner of the Cascadia Uptown store, it was a match made in heaven. It was also only $14.99 so it seemed to me that it was must try.
It pours almost black in the glass and has aromas of ripe raspberries, stewed plums, blueberry and black pepper spice.
The palate showed richness, and supple depth with a fresh fruit and spice finish.
Given that most of the time any purchase I make has to stretch across 2-3 meals, a great wine, for me, needs to be food versatile, and this one fit the bill nicely. I had this with Paella one night, chicken the next and finally homemade pizza, and in all cases the wine worked really well, and hence I grade this one as a great buy and it over delivers for the price.
Price ~ $14.99
Blend ~ Grenache, Syrah
Country of Origin ~ France
Region ~ Luberon (Southern Rhone/Provence)
Score ~ 8.2/10
Label ~ Over Delivers!
Purchased at ~ Cascadia Uptown
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August 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
In the late 90’s I worked for a wine importer the owner of which had a penchant for European wines. We had a great portfolio and it featured some brilliant Alsatian (France) white wines. I fell in love with Pinot Gris from Alsace. To me it seemed that the Alsatian expression of Pinot Gris was incredibly pure, refined and elegant.
At about the same time Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio was starting its incredible rise in popularity. Today the shelves are filled with hundreds of Pinot Gris/Grigio’s, the most of which I consider tosser wines.
Tosser wines are wines conceived of not in the vineyard or cellar, but around the marketing table in the presence of PowerPoint presentations and demographic studies. I found so many expressions of PG to be tossers that I stopped buying it altogether. So when a bottle of the Blue Grouse 2015 Pinot Gris showed up on my desk, I cracked it open expecting the worst.
Price ~ $18-$22
Score ~ 8.4/10 (Over Delivers
The nose showed focused and vibrant pear and melon. The palate is incredibly refined and elegant with piercing and pure pear flavours. Bright acidity on the finish makes this wine refreshing and incredibly well balanced. I liken it to a perfect set of pearls. Refined, elegant, pure and empirically pleasing.
As for food, this will be a great pairing with roasted/grilled pork, white fish, and fresh salads with a light vinaigrette or quality olive oil.
Grapes ~ 100% Pinot Gris
Store Section ~ BC/VQA
Availability ~ Private stores only (take a look at the Blue Grouse website for a complete list here).
July 1, 2016 § Leave a comment
If you don’t have time to read this post, then simply drop everything and run out and buy as much of this win as you can!
It is the end of the school year and we always give our kids teachers the gift of a bottle of wine. As it happens we needed to stop at the grocery store on the way home, so I decided to pop into the store 2 doors down from the grocery store. Truth is that the store is not my normal haunt so I was curious to see what I was going to find.
I came across a number of ‘Blow Out’ wines, so I checked the vintages, looked to see who the importer was/is (often found on the back label), and any other information like blend, or viticultural info; anything that could tell me if this wine was a blow-out due to quality or overstocking.
I focussed on the Red Boot Italian Red. The importer was Freehouse Wine & Spirits, a very well respected importer known for finding exceptional quality, that has since merged with Icon Wine & Spirits. When importers merge there are often products that get blown out for a variety of reasons, quality issues are rarely one of them. So I decided to pick up a bottle.
Price ~ $9.99
Score ~ 9.2/10 Best Buy
The colour is a dark inky red and the nose show ripe cherry, currant and black plum. The palate is dense yet fresh (wine is at its peak right now) and wonderfully silky. The finish is medium length with lots of ripe fruit and hints of savoury spices. Seriously this wine has the quality of $18-$22 Toscana wines. I truly loved it!
I loved it so much I started asking around to stores to see who actually carried it as I know that the Freehouse/Icon merger was at least 6 months back. So far I could only find it at the 4 Mile Liquor Stores. I understand they have about 16 cases in total, 10 at their Admirals Store and 6 in Colwood.
As for food pairing this would would be a treat if you are grilling just about anything. Burgers, Chicken, Ribs, Lamb, etc. It would also go with some fine Parmesano or Gruyere.
As I said at the top of the post, get on your horse and buy as much of this as you can, you won’t be sorry and these are the last cases available.
Grapes ~ Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot
Store Section ~ Italy & on display
Availability ~ very limited, so far I could only find this at the 4 Mile Liquor Store in Colwood & on Admirals.
June 28, 2016 § Leave a comment
Have you ever watched the move My Summer In Provence? Every scene that involves a meal has a bottle of Rosé. It makes perfect sense because Rosé can be incredibly refreshing and wonderfully versatile. In fact Rosé goes with a broader spectrum of foods than does white (I know I know I am generalizing). So when the temperature rises to above 20C and the grass starts to bleach out, I get a craving for rosé.
As I strolled through my local wine shop I saw a signficant increase in the number of rosés from Provence, which is classic. Prices ranged from $15-$25 which is what I expected, but then I say a lonely wine from Gascogne. Not your typical rosé hotbed and you know how I love to find great values where they are unexpected, so I grabbed a bottle of the Domaine de Pellehaut 2015 Rosé.
Price ~ $18.99
Score ~ 8.1 Over Delivers
If you follow me on Instagram (rod_phillips) you no doubt saw the photo I took of the wine. The colour is a deep rose, and the nose shows bright fruit of strawberry, raspberry. and currants, while the palate is fresh, alive and bursting with finesse and elegance. The finish shows all the fruit and is dry. It is not possible to not want more of this wine, as evidenced by my instagram photo. This is a highly shareable wine and my recommendation would be to have 6-10 bottles kicking around for when friends drop by as one will not be enough.
Grapes ~ I had to do some research for this one as the label doesn’t really tell you anything. Tannat, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Malbec
Store Section ~ France
Availability ~ Private Stores only
June 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
You know that part of the store that you walk past each time. Typically it is the dark corner where the dust bunnies hold their daily get togethers. This is where retailers categories that have the lowest sales, but have enough sales to justify being in the store.
I often have walked right by the section but the other day I stopped. I’m not sure why. Maybe I was feeling what it was feeling- I just need some love. Maybe the dusty bunny chatter was getting loud and it caught my attention. Anyway I stopped, looked and found the next wine that I had to buy.
When you think of Italian, French or Spanish wines you likely conjure up visions of rich colours, sensous landscapes and, of course, a couple of little old wizened folk that make the vision complete.
But what of Bulgaria? If you are like me you are likely thinking of row upon row of drab gray concrete Soviet era buildings, with downtrodden colourless people strolling the pock marked, beaten up streets. Hardly inspires confidence or enthusiasm for the wine, but this is exactly where you find great buys; where they are unexpected.
I reached out and firmly grasped the Lovico Gamza by the neck, wiped off the dust, and proudly presented it to the cashier who immediately tried to sell on an Aussie wine. Nope! I’m going Gamza!
Price ~ $9.99
Score ~ 7.8 Over Delivers
I have to say I really got into this wine. I pulled the cork and did my first taste and I thought “funky”, so I let it breathe for 20-30 minutes. Yes a $10 wine that needs to breathe.
When I can back to it the aromas had blossomed and were so intriguing. One would be forgiven if you thought Cabernet Franc. No wait, it must be Pinot. No, no there is too much spice, maybe Gamay Noir. Wow what is Gamza!
Gamza, it turns out, is related to that other household name, Kadarka. When I taste it I can’t believe that its not the distant cousin of Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir and Cabernet Franc.
Aromas of crushed red berries, cherry and grapes, with spice and pomegranate. The palate is light to medium bodied, hence I wouldn’t suggest those that buy $10 Malbecs run out and get this. Yet there are some many interesting things going on in this wine.
I gotta say that for under $10 the Lovico Gaza was a great find and one that I will definitely seek out again.
Grapes ~ Gamza
Store Section ~ Eastern Europe
Availability ~ most private and public stores.
June 17, 2016 § Leave a comment
One of the things about the wine business is that it is a business of passion. I can tell you there isn’t a lot of money in it, and if you were to ask anyone involved they are not in it for the money, they are in it because they love it. So it is sad when you hear that a talented, passionate importer has decided to pack up and move to a different industry because he can’t make ends meet. The silver lining however is that he has reduced the prices on a number of products in his portfolio. Including the Alba de los Infantes 2009 Gran Reserva.
For those that don’t know for a Spanish wine to be called Gran Reserva is must be aged 2 years in barrel and further 3 years in bottle. What this means is that the wine grower and the wine maker saw something in the quality of the grapes and resulting wine that was special. So special that they decided to assume the added cost of a min. 5 years of ageing.
Typically the price for a Gran Reserva wine from Spain starts at the $22 mark and goes up, way up from there. So when the importer told me what the ‘clearance’ price was I started to salivate. It took a while for me to find some bottles in stores, but when I did I was over the moon.
It is not too often that a wine gets a Best Buy rating from me, as it truly needs to punch well above its weight to do so, but this is one.
Price ~ $12.99
Score ~ 9.3/10 Best Buy
It may only be $13 but please let it breathe for at least 30 minutes. If you do you will be rewarded.
The colour is a dark red/purple and the nose shows bright red and blue berries, with some spice and leather.
The palate shows a ton of fresh fruit, while the texture is supple and richly textured. The finish shows generous berry and black tree fruits along with some sensuous savoury spices.
I know that I will be buying this by the case.
This weekend all the dad’s in the family will be enjoying a barbeque, and that is exactly what I would recommend for this wine. Slow roasted ribs, grilled meats, chicken. This would also be a delight with some medium aged cheeses right up to some top quality manchego.
Grapes ~ Tempranillo, Garancha
Store Location ~ Spain
Availability ~ Limited to private stores. I got mine from Spinnaker’s James Bay.