Gehringer 2014 Private Reserve Riesling

April 23, 2016 § Leave a comment

Gehringer RieslingEvery 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.

Cheers

the Dork UnCorked

Mocojo 2014 Long Stem Rosé

March 31, 2016 § 1 Comment

Mocojo Long Stem RoseWhen I got started in the wine business, some 20+ years ago, wine choices were Red, White & Pink and BC wines considered a joke and total plonk. The industry has come a long way since then. Not only has it shaken the ‘plonk’ reputation, but it has recently produced the World’s Best Wine (Decanter  2013- Martin’s Lane 2011 Pinot Noir), is the subject of multiple export inquiries, and is now sporting almost 200 wineries. So I have to say that it is no surprise to me when I get a sample from a winery I have never heard of. This the case of the Mocojo 2014 Long Stem Rosé.

Price ~ $18

Score ~ 7.2 Over Delivers

The colour reminded me of some of my favourite Spanish Rosé (Navarra, Calatayud Grenache based), and the nose was brimming with black cherry and strawberry. The palate is fresh and has more weight than I was expecting from a Rosé.

The people at Mocojo totally nailed Rosé and I greatly look forward to the 2015 version.

This is a great pairing for ham, roasted poultry, and yes, paella. Seriously make a fried rice dish but instead of using Soy sauce, reduce some Chicken broth with the rice, add some savoury spices like Thyme, Sage, black pepper, maybe some chili flakes. Make sure you put some peas in it, definitely some chicken and if you can some shellfish.

Grapes ~ Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir

Region ~ Naramata

Store Section ~ BC

Availability ~ Private stores only.

Cheers

the Dork UnCorked

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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Scrap Book 2012 Red Blend

February 25, 2015 § 1 Comment

imagePrice: $13.99

I recall the days where the majority of BC’s wine consumers considered that BC couldn’t make red wines. Then came the criticism that BC wines were to expensive. With that in mind I was eagerly anticipated tasting a VQA wine that I found at Everything Wine called Scrapbook Red Blend.

The wine provided me with an interesting conflict. It is not a style that I like, however I know that there is a ton of consumers out there that love this type of wine especially when it is compared to California wines likes Apothic.

For me this wine is dead average, however it is every bit as good as Apothic which is priced at $16.99. My recommendation is that if you are a lover of Apothic, Cupcake Red Velvet, Carnivore, Insomnia, etc. then save yourselves a few bucks and enjoy Scrapbook, however if you are like, and are looking for more than sweet fruit in your glass, then give this wine a pass.

Tasting Notes Sipping: The colour is dark, blood red and the aromas are of crushed berries with a hint of vanilla. The palate is juicy, of medium weight and finishes with sweet juicy fruit.

Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine with grilled steak and it was a decent match. The wine held up and certainly didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the meal.

Value: As I mentioned, this wine is a decent value in relation to the likes of Apothic, Cupcake, etc. and I would suggest seeking this out as an alternative to those.

Added Value: This wine has added value as a Crowd Pleaser and perhaps a BBQ Wine.

Score: 6.8 – Dead Average

Service: Twist off the cap and off you go.

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot

Store Section: BC/VQA

Appellation: Okanagan Valley

Available: Everything Wine

Alcohol: 13.5%

Jackson-Triggs Reserve or Black Label 2012 Merlot

January 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 6.8 – Good Drop2015/01/img_0685.png

Price: $14.99

About the Wine: Classic Merlot nose of plum and spice. Dark purple in the glass and the palate is ripe and round with flavours of plum and hints of black currant. The finish is juicy, with soft tannins and has a medium length.

Value: The simple economics of operating a winery makes it really difficult to produce a quality BC grown wine for under $20, so I have to give this wine some kudos for being able to deliver this kind of quality to the market year after year. To that end I would likely save a buck or two and pick this wine over Fetzer Merlot or $15-$17 Chilean Merlot. Would I trade up from $12 South American Merlot? Yes if it was straight merlot, not likely if Carmenere was in the blend. In fact I would choose a $12-$14 Chilean Carmenere over this wine.

Added Value: This wine has added value for those having a BBQ or looking for a Crowd Pleaser wine for when the family comes by.

More To The Story: This wine is indicative of the unique character of the wine business in B.C. The identical wine is sold under two different labels. One label, Reserve, is for BC Liquor Stores and the, Black Label Series, is for private stores. The craziness of the current system means that a wine sold to BC Liquor Stores isn’t worth carrying in private stores, so for the winery to gain distribution in private stores they had to create a second model. It is the the BC liquor industry’s version of a TV model for Future Shop and one for Wal-Mart, although they are the exact same TV.

Service: Twist the cap and serve. No need to breathe just let it rip. As for food I would serve this with grilled steak or a roast chicken.

Grapes: Merlot

Store Section: BC/VQA

Appellation: Okanagan

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Tuscany Village

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Liquor Stores

Alcohol: 12.5%

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Mission Hill 5 Vineyards Pinot Blanc

January 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 7.0  – Good Drop2015/01/img_0678.jpg

Price: $14.99

About the Wine: Close your eyes for a moment and think of sitting on the patio. It’s a warm spring day with the scent of fresh flowers and rebirth in the air. The sun warms your face and your cares just slip away, if only for a moment. If you can put yourself there then you can get a good sense of this wine.

The nose features fresh pears, melon and delicious apple, while the palate is crisp, clean and refreshing. Flavours of Bartlett pear, honeydew melon and red, crisp apples grace the palate. The finish is short to medium and crisp.

Value: I would trade up from any Pinot Gris at $12-$13 for this wine. In addition I would save myself a buck or two over California Sauvignon Blanc priced at $16-$17.

Added Value: This wine strikes a chord for Foodies, as BC Pinot Blanc is in short supply but is almost perfect with spot prawns and crab. This is also a great wine for Weddings as it is fresh and very food versatile. I find it is more food versatile than many BC Pinot Gris’.

More To The Story: A number of years ago a study was done to determine which are the best grapes to grow in BC’s various appellations. Pinot Blanc was determined to be B.C.’s white grape as a quantity of high quality grapes can be grown. Sadly Pinot Blanc vines are being pulled out of vineyards and replaced with Pinot Gris. This is a response to the incredible and growing demand for Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, but it also means that the growers and wine makers that continue to work with Pinot Blanc are true artisans and are producing jewels that, I think, represent BC better than Pinot Gris.

Service: Chill down to about 8ºC. In case you don’t have a thermometer handy, if there is condensation when you take it out of the fridge, let it sit and warm up a few minutes before serving.

Grapes: Pinot Blanc

Store Section: BC/VQA

Appellation: Okanagan

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village, Legacy Liquor Store, Liquor Depot, Hillside Liquor Store, Beverly Corners Liquor Store, VQA Stores

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Metro Liquor Stores, Legacy Liquor Store, Liquor Depot

Alcohol: 10.4 %

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BC Liquor Updates: Wholesale Pricing & Premium Wine & Spirits

November 27, 2014 § 3 Comments

In a previous post I wrote about the change to wholesale pricing in BC as of April 1, 2015. At the time of writing that piece I was aware that the BCLDB were soon to release more details including the graduated mark-ups that will be applied to premium spirits and wine. Today they released those formulas and it seems that wines over $20 and spirits over $30 are set to jump significantly in price, whereas wines under $20 will stay roughly the same as what they are today.

To be clear I can only speculate on what the result of this pricing model will be,  however my 20+ years in the business leads me to believe that this will have the effect of penalizing mid-range and premium wines and spirits and favouring lower end items.

The fact is that consumers are value driven and understand that a tax increase does not equate an increase in value… no matter how good the retail store they are purchasing from is. I fear that the real effect will be to chase premium consumers out of premium price points, exchanging them for good values at lower prices. Note that the consumer is not likely to increase the quantity they purchase, they will simply spend less. On the supply side, small artisan producers can expect slower sales for their products making it harder to justify selling them in B.C. and will be forced to either seek other markets (Alberta, Asia, US, other Canadian Jurisdictions), business channels (divert volume from retail to restaurants or ‘cellar door’ sales), or simply close their doors.

There are those, however, that are very pleased with the new calculations. Retailers in Alberta and Washington State will be eagerly expecting windfall gains as more BC residents load up or make special trips to save hundreds of dollars on their purchases. I can tell you that this happens right now within the specialty spirits category. The most ardent Scotch collectors have long been making most of their purchase outside of BC.

Admittedly I am not privy to the discussions and calculations that saw the powers that be opt for this model vs a flat tax or less oppressive percentages. I can only speculate what their short and long term motivations are and what the results will actually be. However, although I remain hopeful that they will take another look at the numbers, I believe the smart move would be to find a model that reduces the potential of sending more money to Alberta and pushing artisan producers out of business.

Attached is the pdf as issued by the BCLDB regarding the new formulas.

Mark-Up Schedule Effective April 1 2015 (2)

As always let me know your thoughts and feedback.

May Quality Be Ever In Your Glass

The Dork Uncorked

Liquor Updates: Wholesale Pricing

November 22, 2014 § 8 Comments

My phone was ringing off the hook prior to and after the announcement by Suzanne Anton and the GM for the BC Liquor Distribution Branch. The biggest, and really only, question is ‘What does this mean?’

There is a ton to talk about as the announcement involved Grocery Stores, Wholesale Pricing, Separation of LDB Retail from Wholesale, perhaps the item that will have the most short and long term impact is Wholesale Pricing.

Wholesale Pricing

Current System

Currently BC Liquor Stores do not purchase product from the Wholesale division of the BCLDB. They simply order it, it arrives and they retail it. Private stores do pay LDB Wholesale for their product. The price is a function of the BC Liquor Store retail price. In other words a discounted retail price is what private stores pay. The discount is based on the license type. Licensed Retail Stores (LRS) receive a 16% discount off retail, while Private Wine Stores (Everything Wine, Marquis, etc.) receive at 30% discount on import wine, 15% on domestic wine and cider and are prevented from retailing beer or spirits. Rural Agency Stores (RAS) receive a 12% but are not allowed to carry anything but BC Liquor Store skus. These stores are usually in small rural communities.

Wholesale System

As of April 1, 2015 a new pricing model will be adopted that will apply to all liquor retailers in the province. The price will be a true wholesale price and not a discount from BC Liquor Store retail. As of this writing it appears that pricing will be a function of product type and not be a flat tax as it is in Alberta. What this means is that there will not be a standard price. All retailers, including BC Liquor Stores, will have the choice to retail at any price they choose.

Key Omissions

  1. The new wholesale pricing structure will not be afforded to on-premise (restaurants, hotels, bars) accounts. On-premise accounts will continue to pay full retail and only from BC Liquor Stores or domestic suppliers.
  2. Private Wine Stores will not be allowed to add beer, spirits or coolers to their selection, but will pay the same price for all their products as all other retailers. In other words they are losing a 14% product cost advantage over LRS stores without gaining product options. I would guess that this might change between now and April 1.
  3. At present BC Liquor Stores can solicit advertising, or co-op dollars from suppliers, whereas it is illegal for private stores to do the same. If we are talking about a true level playing field, what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander.
  4. In the current system when a supplier reduces their price, the supplier ‘buys down’ all the inventory on-hand and incoming for BC Liquor Stores for the duration of the price reduction. It is illegal for suppliers to buy down inventory at private stores. Once again, what’s good for the goose…
  5. Speculative Listings: Under the current system BC Liquor Stores are forbidden from putting ‘Spec Listings’ on their shelves. This was done to offset the huge discrepancy in cost of goods between BC Liquor Stores and private stores and give private stores a ‘selection’ edge. Presumably under a wholesale system, speculative listings will be scrapped.

Impact: Consumer Pricing

With all retailers paying the same price for goods it will likely encourage greater competition which, for the consumer, could mean greater selection, although I’m not certain this will be come to pass, but it will likely mean greater price variation, competition and, I believe that this will be in the form of price agility.

At present BC Liquor Store can only change their prices once per month. Private stores can change their prices daily and thus be far more strategic about the timing and value of sale pricing. There are hundreds of shelves in business schools filled with thousands of books and papers dedicated to pricing strategy- agility is the winner hands down. With this in mind I suggest that everyday prices will remain relatively the same, however BC Liquor Stores are likely to start doing ‘one-day’ or ‘this weekend only’ sales which will trigger a market wide long-term response.

It is well known that British Columbians pay the highest prices in Canada and these changes ensure that this will continue. The structure will continue to be ad-volerum vs flat tax (see below for definitions of each) which means that low end products are price favoured while premium priced items are penalized. Alberta is a flat tax and that is why a product priced $70 will likely only be $50 in Alberta.

Addendum Nov. 27: We now know the graduated mark-up schedule in totality. Consumers will not likely see any differences in wine under $20 or spirits under $30, however for those that purchase at the premium end of the scale, the new model promises significant price hikes the value of which increases as the price of the product increases.

Impact: Selection

The argument was made during the announcements that overall selection would be improved. I have doubts that this will happen unless you consider 3 new sizes of Budweiser or brand extensions of Copper Moon and positive increase in selection.

Above I mentioned the doing away with Speculative listings. If this is the case, then you will likely see a plethora of new items on the shelves in BC Liquor Stores, however overall provincial selection will not likely change that much.

Addendum Nov. 27: The graduated mark-up schedule will likely negatively impact the selection of premium wines and spirits in BC. Price hikes on premium wine and spirits will significantly slow sales, meaning that importers and suppliers are likely to redirect offerings to other markets where sales are likely to be better.

Definitions

Ad-Volerum: An ad-volerum tax system is one that adds a percentage tax to the cost of goods instead of a consistent dollar value. In the new system that starts April 1, 2015 the tax on wine will start at 89% (there will be graduated values on premium and super premium wines). 89% on a wine that starts at $3 a bottle has means the government receives $2.67 in tax. 89% mark-up on a wine that starts at $6 is $5.34. In this simple calculation (prior to PST, GST, Volume mark-ups, etc.) a wine that starts at $3 would retail at $5.67/bottle whereas the $6 bottle would retail at $11.34/bottle; a difference of $8.67 which only $3 is found in the product cost.

Flat Tax: A flat tax is consistent dollar value applied to every bottle no matter the value of the bottle. In a flat tax system, the only price difference between a $3 bottle and $6 bottle is $3 as the tax value is the same for each bottle. For example in a system with a flat tax of $2/bottle the $3 bottle would retail at $5 and the $6 bottle would retail at $8.

Attached is the pdf outlining the new wholesale pricing model as issued by the BCLDB.

Mark-Up Schedule Effective April 1 2015 (2)

I would love to hear your feedback so please engage.

May Quality Be Ever In Your Glass

The DorkUncorked

The Liquor File – The Whole Pie

November 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

This weeks announced changes to the liquor industry in B.C. will go into effect on April 1, 2015, but already their impact is being felt.

Social & traditional media has been jammed with calculations, prophecies and conjecture and, full disclosure, I have been apart of it to. However, after a Facebook conversation this morning I took a step back to get a broader perspective.

We have to remember that none of these changes will change the size and value of the market. If anything all they will do is divide the ‘pie’ into more pieces and shift value around.

It is no secret that BC Liquor Stores have been losing share to private stores each year for the last 10 years. Creating a level pricing field is likely the only way that this trend could be reversed using legitimate means. I expect that BC Liquor Stores will start to act like a large grocery concern and leverage their position to either mitigate costs or corner the market on certain products. This could mean disaster for many of BC’s private liquor stores who rely on price and product agility combined with well oiled marketing machines, but it won’t mean any more money into government coffers.

The other big announcement leads to further splintering of the market. Allowing liquor in grocery stores, no matter how it is done, will not lead to any greater revenues for the province or any increased sales for suppliers. It just means that there are more places for consumers to buy booze.

I truly hope that the quality of liquor retailing in BC will improve and I hope that these changes will instill a spirit of continued improvement, however these changes will not change the fact that we pay the highest prices in the country, and it is certain, that they will only mean the pie is divided in more ways.

I would love to hear your comments and feedback so please engage.

I will also be writing a piece specific to Wholesale Pricing so look for that.

May Quality Be Ever In Your Glass

The DorkUncorked.

Privatizing Liquor Distribution in BC A Fallacy

July 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last week the minister responsible for the BCLDB, Rich Coleman, announced that a short list of 4 competitors for rights to Liquor Distribution in BC. Shortly thereafter the political rhetoric reached new levels from both the left and the right. All of it, in my opinion, was crap and did not see what makes the whole issue a fallacy.

The fact is that most beer, wine, spirit and cider products in the province are privately distributed. Labatt’s, Molson’s, Sleeman, Okanagan Spring and Pacific Western Brewing account for about 80% of all the beer sold in BC yet they are all distributed by privately held companies. The only thing they are responsible to the government for is submitting the correct paperwork that accompanies their submission of tax (mark-up) dollars collected through sale of the products they distribute.

Wines such as Mission Hill, Naked Grape, Copper Moon, Peller Estate, Joie, Burrowing Owl, Sandhill, Hillside Estate, Tinhorn Creek, Road 13 and Quail’s Gate just to name a few, are all privately distributed. Again the only thing the distributors must do is submitt the paperwork and tax revenues collected.

Ciders such as Growers, Okanagan, Extra, Strongbow, Merridale, Sea Coder, etc. are privately distributed.

Every domestic brewery, winery and cidery have the choice of distributing privately or through the BC LDB.

I know what you are asking “So what does the BCLDB distribute”?

The only items that at present must be distributed by the BCLDB are spirits, spirit based beverages, import wines, and import beers (not including Heineken, Stella Artois, Miller Genuine Draft just to name a few).

Most of the revenues generated by the sales of liquor in BC are from privately distributed products. Nothing more needs to be said.

The opinions expressed here are my own and must not be attributed otherwise.

Tasting Notes UnCorked: McWatters Collection 2007 Meritage ~ $25CDN

August 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

McWatters Collection 2007 Meritage

This wine has just been released to the market in test tube full amounts… unless you are a high end restaurant in downtown Vancouver. Then.. then you can have as much as you want. Why? that is a discussion for another time.

McWatters Collection 2007 Meritage is the latest in a long line of projects started, elevated and polished by one Harry McWatters. Harry is truly one of the pioneers of the BC wine industry and was among the first to pull off producing commerical wine in BC. He is also a founding member of VQA in Canada and only recently completed some, what I suspect were hard, years at Vincor as part of the deal that saw Vincor purchase Sumac Ridge Winery from Harry. Harry is also responsible for making a wine that was a watershed wine in so many ways to the BC wine industry. Harry grew and vinted Sumac Ridge Gewurztraminer which was the wine that brought my wife and I together for a candle light nite (she was my soon to be girlfriend at the time). Regardless of that the Sumac Ridge Gewurz added credibility to the BC Wine industry that was desperate for some commercial wins. Frankly, I believe that the Sumac Ridge Gewurz established a style that became a standard to either emulate or run away from in BC. I can remember a conversation with Sandra Oldfield back in 1995 where she stated that she wanted her Gewurz to stand apart from Harry’s whereas so many wanted to copy.

Another thing you need to know about Harry. Never call a Meritage a Meritah-ge. He will jump down your throat and stomp on your innards. For Harry Meritage is pronounced Merry- tige. He believes in this so much that he either founded or was a very vocal member in an organization of Meritage maker’s (whose real name escapes me right now) that spans across North America.

So the McWatters Collection 2007 Meritage…
Here is the tech shit: Harvested in 2007 from blah blah blah blah vineyards. I have thrown that in there because it seems that every wine is grown in especially selected vineyards and is cared for as if gold from the vineyard to the winery, to the bottle to your table. To use a line I love from old black and white movies – that line is a bromide for the masses. What is really of any importance is why he chose the final blend to be 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc and decided to leave in barrel and bottle for as long as he did before he released it. That is what I want to read and hear as each of those elements made up the wine that I tasted.

I first tasted the wine on August 21. I opened it at about 6pm and had a glass with dinner at about 6:30. I have to say that it didn’t wow me at that point. Don’t get me wrong the wine was technically sound and enjoyable but it didn’t have that little bit of Gretzky in it to put it over a lot of others at the same price point. If I had to score it at that time I would have given in a 6.5/$1 on my bang for the buck scale. Nice fruit flavours and aromas of red and black berries, some jammy elements, some good spicy undertones and enough grip to stand up to a bold meal, but not too much to pucker your face in. On the finish there was the tiniest of noises as if I was Horton and I was hearing a Who for the first time. The Who was saying in a shrinking voice “cocoa” “fresh ground coffee”.

Since then it has been sitting on my countertop with a vaccu-pump seal. That is 9 days it should have been well on its way to Balsamic by now but man o man was I surprised. It was still quite voluptuous, full of fruit and not loss of sex at all. Those tiny voices were now big Gregory Peck type tones from To Kill Mocking Bird. The finish was delightful and begging me to get up for another glass. Now, after 9 days I would score it an easy 8.5/$1. Any wine that has that lasting power deserves room in my pocketbook and miserable excuse for a cellar.

Conclusion: Buy!!!

Traditional Food Pairing: Beef Tenderloin hot of the grill with the simplest of seasoning. Roast Beef. Stilton Cheese on a Triscuit.

Junk Food Pairing: Jack’s Links Regular Beef Jerky or you can go with the Peppered. If Popcorn is on the agenda make sure that it is Orville’s Extra Butter flavour. Cheez Whiz is pretty decent with this to.

Availability: Pretty limited which is the drawback. You will be able to find it in key restaurants in Vancouver, some private retail in Victoria (in about a week) and throughout the Okanagan.

Cheers

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