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).
May 28, 2016 § Leave a comment
I recall a time when I thought beer either can in a bottle with a blue label or a bottle with a red label. In fact there was a time that, like in politics, families were either Labatt Blue or Molson Canadian families. Those times have long since past and the diversity in beer choices rivals that of wine choices.
At the beginning of the craft beer renaissance there was a lot of talk about Belgian beers and Belgian brewing. It was at this time I was introduced to the multi-time World Beer Champion – Gulden Draak.
Price ~ $4.00 (330ml), $8-$10 (750ml)
Score ~ 9.1 Best Buy
Right away you can tell that you are not dealing with your run of the mill brew. At 10.8% alcohol it is a bit of a monster that pours dark brown in the glass. The nose shows caramel and Christmas cake, with generous malty greatness. The palate is big and broad. Caramel, toffee, candied fruit and nuts dominate the flavours, while the finish makes you think of the holidays and is dry.
As much as the above breaks things down, I think the beauty of this beer is in the whole package. There is a whole lot going on and it is all really enjoyable.
I went to the Van Steenberge website and found a very cool looking cocktail of all things – replace the Irish Whisky in an Irish Coffee with Gulden Draak. This is now on my list of things to do.
As for food pairings, this would be ideal with stews, hearty meat based pastas, smoked cheeses, and, yes chocolate.
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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May 14, 2016 § Leave a comment
Over the last few years I have strayed away from IPA’s. Specifically because they seem to have continued upward growth in hoppy bitterness.
Recently I was introduced to an IPA that I really really enjoyed. At first I had it in my fridge for a few days and was apprehensive, but then one night the combination of the temperature and meal seemed to force me to open it.
Price ~ $6.00
Score ~ 8.1/10 Over Delivers
I just love what the Jasmine infusion does to make this IPA stand out. I have hand many an IPA and after awhile, they are seem the same. However one you put your nose to this brew, you will quickly understand what makes it stand out.
There is a gentle floral component that is not only attractive but also tempers, or balances, the hops. the result is a fully enjoyable IPA that is memorable and craveable… if that is even a word. In fact I have now bought this beer on a number of occasions.
Store Section ~ Craft ‘Bomber’ Section
Availability ~ both public and private stores.
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PS- below is a link to the Wine Folly book on Amazon. Yes this is an affiliate program and it helps us keep the blog going, having said that I highly recommend this book and use it myself. It is colourful easy to read book that you can have a resource. Enjoy.
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May 7, 2016 § 1 Comment
Always looking to improve on the offerings here, I have enlisted some of the most respected palates in the Craft Beer world to provide a Beer of the Week Each Week.
This week features Jami Wood of Spinnaker’s Spirit Merchants in James Bay.
For Jami this beer was so good that it inspired her to bake a cake with the beer being a key ingredient.
Pick of the Week: Bridge Brewing Lemon Gin Saison
Availability: Private Stores only; very limited stock available – get it now!
Tasting Notes/Technical Info: Brewed with the addition of juniper berries, lemon peel, coriander, and pink peppercorns, and fermented with a French Saison Yeast, this beer is unique and super drinkable. Juniper, used in moderation, emphasizes the gin flavours, while coriander adds depth and complexity. The saison yeast used expresses peppery, spicy and citrusy notes, which play well with the lemon zest and pink peppercorn.
ABV 5.5% IBU 24
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