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
May 27, 2016 § Leave a comment
I had a long chat with a fellow veteran of the liquor industry and put me in a nostalgic mood.
Back in the late 90’s VQA and BC Wines were still on fringe of wine culture, and most of the brands that we take for granted today were start-ups.
This was the case for Tinhorn Creek. In 1998 the agency I was running became the sales agent for Tinhorn Creek. Previous to that Kenn and Sandy were selling their wine out of the back of their car. The labels were a sea foam green 3/4 wrap that feature a metallic burgundy creek running down the middle. The whites showed biting acidity and it wasn’t unusual to find ‘wine diamonds’ at the bottom of the bottles. With all that said, it wasn’t hard to see the quality and potential of the winery.
Another reality of the time was that every BC winery had a Gewurztraminer and most of them were off-dry to sweet, but Tinhorn’s was drier and the wine brought out loads of flavours.
Price ~ $16 (almost exactly what it was in 1998)
Score ~ 8.2 Over Delivers
The nose is brimming with spices, melon, pear and generous lychee nut. The palate is alive refreshing with a finish that gives a spicy, lychee, pear kiss to the taster.
The get the most out of this wine just chill it down a few degrees so that the bottle is cool to touch (should take about 1 hour in a normal fridge), then serve with either seafood including prawns, anything curried, salads (especially those with fruits in them), and grilled chicken.
Grapes ~ Gewurztraminer
Store Section ~ BC/VQA
Availability ~ In both private and public stores
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April 23, 2016 § Leave a comment
Every morning I take Oxxo the family dog for a stroll around what we call the loop. Recently the loop has not only provide some wonderful vistas but it also bursting with Spring flowers. The morning air has been filled with a Cornucopia of floral scents and it put me in the mood for some aromatic white wine.
To that end I tripped down to my local store and spend some time perusing the BC/VQA shelves. I came upon a wine that made me smile. I smiled because I have such fond memories of meeting with Walter Gehringer at his winery on the Golden Mile Bench.
I spied his 2014 Private Reserve Riesling and snapped it up.
Walter has some of the oldest Riesling vines in BC that has consistently produced some of the best wine year after year after year.
I recall first trying what has become the Private Reserve Riesling back in 1995 when you could count on one hand the number of quality producers in the Okanagan. Today there are over 150 inching towards 200, and yet the Gehringer wines are still priced under $20… well under $20. Thank you Walter.
Price ~ $14
Score ~ 7.6/10 Over Delivers
When I stick my generous nose in the glass I am pleasantly welcomed with white peach, pear and a hint of Jasmine flower. The palate is well balanced showing great flavour and finesse, with the finish delivering fresh fruit and real refreshment (hard not to have a second glass).
I suspect the elegance of this wine is a function of this wine being in bottle for a year before it got to me. Old vines like the ones that Walter has, can not be rushed into expressing themselves fully. Time allows the wine to make its full statement and allow the taster to sense the wisdom of their choice. I would love to try the 2015 beside the 2014, but that is just the dork in me.
Pair this wine with, and this is really simple to do, chicken thighs marinated for a number of hours in Lemon juice, Orange Juice, fresh rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic, touch of cayenne pepper, and a half a cup of white wine. The pairing is simply fantastic. I would also pair this wine with anything that has cumin and little spice to it, fresh fish and Spinach salad with some citrus in it.
Grapes ~ 100% Riesling
Store Section ~ BC/VQA
Availability ~ both private and public stores.
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March 18, 2016 § Leave a comment
I firmly believe that Grenache, and Grenache blends will be the ‘it’ wine of 2016/2017. I declare this to be true for a few of reasons.
- Taste Profile – Grenache is alway juicy and easy to enjoy, with a delicious kiss of savoury spices and a soft round texture because the grape is naturally low in tannin (pucker).
- The Underdog Effect – Grenache has long been considered a blending grape and therefore its impact on the quality of a wine has either been overshadowed or totally missed. Loads of cork dorks around the globe are choosing Grenache because it so overlooked.
- Value – Grenache is the second most planted red grape in the world meaning there are oceans of quality Grenache produced each year meaning there are lots of great wines under $20 and even under $15.
I was strolling around my local store looking for that underappreciated bottle of Grenache at a real good price… enter La Bastide.
La Bastide hit the market like a bomb a few years back. Every store had a stack and it was flying out the doors. Little did people know that this wine is about 70% Grenache, hence its juicy delicious character. Well that was a few years ago and now this wine is most likely found on the bottom shelf as the shine has worn off. That is great news for those looking for a juicy, delicious wine with loads of flavour, lively spice, a soft texture and are willing to bend their knees to get a bottle that totally over delivers for the price.
Price ~ $11
Score ~ 7.4/10 – Over Delivers
This is a real crowd pleaser and if you are looking to get married this summer or perhaps you are buying the wine for the nuptials, this is a great choice- inexpensive, over delivers and is incredibly food versatile.
Speaking of food I would have this wine with anything BBQ. Either BBQ sauce or slow roasted. Oh and it is also awfully good with a flank steak that has been marinating all day.
Grapes ~ 70% Grenache, Carignan, Syrah
Store Section ~ France
Availability ~ Both Private & Public Stores.
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February 14, 2016 § Leave a comment
This is a rare find (bottom shelf Everything Wine French Section). I say this with the power of hindsight as I hadn’t noticed the vintage on the bottle until after I got home and when I went looking for where it is available, I found bubkus.
It seems that a few years back it received lots of attention from the press and broad distribution in both government and private stores. However, as far as I can tell, I may have gotten one of the last bottles available in the market. I’m counting my lucky stars.
Price ~ $14
Score ~ 7.7/10 Over Delivers
The wine opens with juicy ripe raspberry, plum and blueberry fruits on the backdrop of earthy spice and licorice. Very hedonistic. The palate is soft and without angles, but still maintaining freshness despite it being 7 years old. The finish is loaded with ripe fruits, spice and is silky.
Wines at this price point are rarely this fresh after 4 years let alone 7. Typically these wines are meant for early consumption and thus this was a rare treat. I would have scored it higher if it was more widely available.
Grapes ~ 100% Grenache
Store Section ~ France
Availability ~ Everything Wine
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December 24, 2015 § 3 Comments
Truth be told I am a bubble head (as if you didn’t know that already), and I firmly believe that the world would be a better place if everyone enjoyed a glass of sparkling wine a day.
I was in a bit of a funk the other day and my spirits needed lifting so I endeavoured to find a sparkling wine that would put a smile on and in my mouth and a skip in my step. Enter Perseus Sparkling Chardonnay.
Price ~ $21-$22
Score ~ 8.6/10 Over Delivers
The packaging isn’t all fancy and it comes with a classic beer cap instead of a big cork with a cage around it. Simply pop the cap off and immediately your spirits will lift.
The aromas (scent) is brimming with fresh apples, bartlett pears and hints of citrus. Isn’t this the combination aromatherapy uses to bring one’s energy up… I see a trend here, alas I digress.
The mousse (the head if you are a beer drinker) is made up of thousands of tiny bubbles that dance upon the palate while also making the texture a little softer and creamier. The juicy, citrus flavours come alive and heighten the senses.
As you can tell I truly loved this wine and will be making a regular around the house.
Grapes ~ 100% Chardonnay
Store Section ~ Sparkling Wine
Availability ~ Limited, Private Stores including Everything Wine, Metro Liquor, Spinnakers, Cork & Barrel and Caddy Bay Liquor.
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December 22, 2015 § Leave a comment
When I say the word Shiraz what do you think of? Probably Yellow Tail right? I have a very clear recollection of the Aussie wave that hit our shores in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Every Shiraz coming into the market seemed to fit a very thin taste spectrum. I remember thinking that could be a big mistake. As it turned out, like most things, people tired of the same flavour and body and started to migrate to Malbec thus insuring the rapid decline of Australian wine fortunes in BC.
The fact is that only those Shiraz’s manufactured to taste the same year after year do. 99% of Shiraz made in Australia is not manufactured and actually reflects the region and winery it comes from.
I know that the Grey Label is outside of the $20 but holy crap does it represent a great value. Close your eyes here comes some dorky terms – very well balanced, bright acidity, dense flavours and aromas from start to finish. This is the whole package and thoroughly enjoyable.
Price ~ $29-$33
Score ~ 9.3/10 Best Buy
Unscrew the cap and let this wine breathe for a few minutes (10-15) and you will be well rewarded. Stick your nose right in the glass and take a deep breathe. What you will notice is the scent of blueberry, blackberry, ripe plum, black cherry, black pepper, violets, lavender, and just a hint of cured meat. I know, I know it seems like there couldn’t be all that, but there is.
The palate is bright yet full and ripe and the finish is juicy with just a kiss of spice and sultry smoke.
Grapes ~ 100% Shiraz
Store Section ~ Australia
Availability ~ Both government and private stores.
Food ~ Roasted or grilled lamb, Duck, even Turkey, Aged Cheddar.
Acknowledgements: Stacey Brennan, Pam Sanderson, Ernest Sargent, Brianna Kirby, Jami Wood, Karin Kallio, Angela Phillips, Patti Raffle.
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December 18, 2015 § Leave a comment
As we are coming to the end of 2015 I took a few moments to look back at my posts. It dawned on me that I haven’t done much on white wines at all. With this happy justification in my pocket I trundled off to the liquor store.
So where to start looking for white wine? I walked down the BC aisle and saw lots of options. Then it dawned on me that the best place to find something white lurking in shadows of stardom was in the New Zealand category.
Sauvignon Blanc makes up the vast majority of sales of New Zealand wine here in BC. Of Sauvignon Blanc sales the overwhelming leaders are Kim Crawford and Oyster Bay. Both great wines, but I kind of look at them as the baseline of quality and price by which competitors should be gauged. To that end I looked through a number of offerings, and narrowed my choices down to a couple that I know are small producers not owned by big conglomerates. I selected the Sileni Estate 2014 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Price ~ $15.99
Score ~ 8.6/10 Over Delivers
The nose is brimming with vibrant gooseberry and grass. I say vibrant as if, it were possible, the aromas were vibrating with energy, just waiting to get out of the glass.
The palate is crisp and alive leaving your mouth feeling refreshed and great. I’m sure that I smiled shortly after my first taste.
Given that both Oyster Bay and Kim Crawford are normally a couple of bucks more per bottle, this wine way over delivered.
Grapes ~ 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Store Section ~ New Zealand
Availability ~ Both private and government stores.
Food Pairing ~ White fish, fresh oysters, pasta with creamy sauces, fish tacos.
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If there is a wine you would like reviewed please let me know.
the Dork UnCorked.
December 17, 2015 § Leave a comment
There are loads of wine choices on the shelf, the hard part is actually deciding which one is the right one.
What are some ‘pairings’ based on the personality you are buying for. I hope this helps and Merry Christmas.
Gentle, quiet, pensive
Must be soft, but not to soft. Quiet in its unfolding of it personality and much more to it if you let it wash over you.
R Wolf Blass Grey Label 2012 McLaren Vale Shiraz ~$30 (Australia)
W Cameron Hughes Arroyo Secco Chardonnay ~$25 (California)
Doesn’t hold back in terms of fashion, or desire for flavour. Seeks out and loves to stroll down the path less travelled.
R Seven Deadly Zins ~$23 (California)
W Tahbilk Marsanne ~$19 (Australia)
Always a smile and loves to dance.
R Ca’Montebello Barbera ~$17 (Italy – private stores only)
W Aveleda Vinho Verde ~$15 (Portugal – private stores only)
Brooding and Reserved
A little stormy, angst, a classic brooding artist struggling to find their voice.
R Apollonio Squinzano ~ $22 (Italy- private stores only)
W Lurton Les Fumees Blanches ~$13 (France)
Strong Silent Type
Person of few words but those few words, and resulting actions convey calm strength in the face of adversity.
R Fabre Montmayou Malbec Reserve ~$24 (Argentina – private stores only)
W Guigal Crozes Hermitage Blanc ~$28 (France)
Witty, funny great with one liners and can be counted on to add comedic levity to any situation.
R Borsao Garnacha ~$12-$13 (Spain)
W Sileni Sauvignon Blanc ~16 (New Zealand)
Methodical, Reserved, Sophisticated
Stylish, quiet, worldly and never, ever quits.
R Chateau Pey La Tour ~$17-$19 (France)
W Chateau La Gravelle Muscadet ~$16 (France)
An Old Soul
Seems to have wisdom beyond their years.
R Lopez de Haro Rioja Crianza ~$20 (Spain – private stores only)
W Charton Et Trebuchet Bourgogne Chardonnay ~$22 (France)
Inspiring Through Action
Doesn’t really need to say too much, leads by example.
R Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc ~$23 (BC, VQA)
W Blue Grouse Gamay 2014 Rosé ~ $15-$17 (Vancouver Island)
Doesn’t really walk, kind of glides. Confident and has a gentle, silky voice.
R Bodega Atamisque Pinot Noir ~$30 (Argentina- private stores only)
W Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay ~ $18-$20 (BC, VQA)
If there is someone that I haven’t really covered please let me know either through the comments or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tune in every Saturday between 2 & 3pm for the Dork UnCorked Radio Hour.