Paul Mas 2014 Grenache Noir

February 5, 2016 § Leave a comment

Paul Mas Grenache NoirGrenache can be so freakin’ delightful. Brimming with fresh raspberries, cherries and spice, and if from Europe, an earthy-spicy undercurrent that is both seductive and luxurious. The other thing about Grenache is that is usually used as a blending grape to tame the wild boldness of Syrah. To this end wines that feature Grenache are often under priced for the value they deliver. The Paul Mas Grenache Noir is just such a wine.

Price ~ $11.29

Score ~ 7.2 Over Delivers

The Paul Mas Grenache Noir has a wild side. Under the flavours of ripe raspberry, blackberry and cherry is some delightful earthy, leather and black pepper spices.

When sipping this wine on its own it lacks a little depth which I am willing to forgive for the price but is easily made up when having with a nibble of cheese (Cheddar) or a creamy pasta, roasted or grilled chicken. When paired with food the flavour sing to the heavens, and that makes me smile.

Grapes ~ 100% Grenache

Store Section ~ France

Availability ~ Both government and private stores.

Cheers

the Dork UnCorked

Tune into CFAX 1070 at 2pm on Saturday afternoons for the Dork UnCorked Radio Hour.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Update: Dec. 16

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.

Cheers

The Dork UnCorked

Episode 7: In The News & Brown Baggin’s It

December 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

Episode 7 – Link to Podcast

Segment 1 ~ In the News

Strange bedfellows kissed and made up this week in the form the BCGEU & the BCPLSA (BC Public Liquor Stores Association). The two organizations announced that they believe that recreational marijuana retailing should be restricted to liquor stores, if and when it becomes legal to do so.

Segment 2 ~ Brown Baggin’ It

A fun Christmas Party idea is to do a Brown Bag event.

The host supplies brown lunch bags. As guests bring their entries they put their bottle in a bag and number it. Throughout the evening guests taste the wines and rate which is their favourites. At a specific time the wines are revealed and prices stated. Invariably there are many surprises.

I suggest that you limit the price to something like under $20. If you will have both red & white entries it is best to have two competitions, one for red and one for white.

Segment 3 ~ Recommended Wines for Brown Baggin’ It

Terre Prosecco ~ $18 and a brilliant palate cleanser and crowd pleaser. Only available in private stores. Top pick by Dork UnCorked’s Sparkling Wine Correspondent Stacey Brennan of the Hillside Liquor Store (across from Hillside Mall on North Dairy).

Surprises make this event fun so I often enter wines that very few people are aware off, but offer incredible value. Here are a few suggestions for both red and white.

Red

Masia F Vino Tinto Tempranillo (Spain) ~ $10 private stores only

Periquita (Portugal) ~ $10 both private and public stores

The Den Pinotage (South Africa) ~ $15 private stores only

White

Hester Creek Pinot Gris (BC) ~ $16 750ml $44 3L (750ml equivalent – $11)

Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) ~ $17 private stores only

Aveleda Vinho Verde (Portugal) ~ $15 private stores only

Segment 4 – Best Buy of the Week

This weeks Best Buy is the Francois Lurton Les Fumees Blanches. On sale at government stores in Dec. for $11.99 this is a killer white wine. Look for it in the French section.

Next Week – Grannies Shortbread

The Entertainer 2012 Red Blend

November 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

What makes some people incrediblethe entertainer red blend accountants, lawyers, plumbers and entertainers? I don’t have the answer, but I do know that everyone who is fantastic at their jobs brings a special quality. Let’s face it every task can be broken down and learned, but some people just inject a little bit of
inspiration and magic in each step. In the wine world one of the great entertainers was Wolf Blass.

If could be argued Wolf Blass is introduced the beauties and simplicity of wine to more people than anyone else. First he crafted very easy to enjoy wine. Then he made himself available to anyone who wanted to learn more. Finally he tirelessly entertained consumers around the world and made wine approachable to everyone.

When I saw this wine I read the back label and found that it is an homage to Wolf Blass himself and so I jumped at the opportunity to try it.
Hopefully it entertains the palate as much as he entertained the world.

Price: $17-18

Notes: The wine pours into the glass a dark purple with cherry red hues. The nose betrays the juicy, fruit forward, hedonistic wine this turned out to be. Aromas of juicy red and black berries, pastry and hints of smoky
pepper join a rich, textured palate to make a very enjoyable glass.

I would highly suggest this wine for a romantic comedy movie night or when you have friends over for light and enjoyable evening. It speaks well to fun loving nature of Wolf himself.

Score: 7.5/10 ~ Over Delivers

It pairs really well with mild cheeses, hot dogs, grilled chicken and
mashed potatoes, and plenty of comfort foods.

Section: Australia

If you have the opportunity to try this wine, please let me know your thoughts.

Cheers

Dork UnCorked

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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BC Liquor Updates: Separation of BCLDB Retail from BCLDB Wholesale

December 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

Along with wholesale pricing (see: Wholesale Pricing, & Wholesale Pricing Premium Products) the government and the BCLDB announced the separation of BCLDB Retail from BCLDB Wholesale. For those not in the industry, this may not seem like a major step, for those in the industry, this has the potential of being a game changer.

I have been in this industry for over 20 years and there is only one thing true about changes to the industry, they are evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The separation of LDB retail from wholesale is a big step in the evolution of the industry. Afterall no one in their right mind would suggest that it is a level playing field if one player was not only in charge of pricing, selection and distribution, but was also competing as a retailer.

So what details were released about this separation? None, which gives me a blank canvas to list what it would mean to me, so I will start with how it works today and contrast that to how it should work if the playing field were to truly be level.

The Present

Selection

Right now every product, whether made in or imported to BC must first be registered and approved of by the BCLDB regardless of what the market plan for the product. What this means is that BC LDB has veto power over products that are not intended for their own stores, even if the product has been specifically purchased by a private retailer or restaurateur for their own operation only.

At present the only way a private retailer can prevent other retailers from getting a product is by buying it all, however BCLDB retail can apply a ‘cross-dock’ over any product which prevents anyone but the LDB from buying that product. This embargo can last months if the BCLDB decides so. The LDB does this every year with the Bordeaux and Whisky releases.

Distribution & Inventory

At present every BC Liquor Store in the province can see the inventory levels of every product in the province; how many cases are at the LDB Warehouse, how many cases are at the agent’s warehouse and how many cases are ‘on the water’. Private retailers don’t have access to this information.

Upon the release of a new, highly anticipated item(s) such as the new raft of coolers and ciders that come out every Spring, BC Liquor Stores orders get priority over private store orders. Private store orders will only get filled after all the BC Liquor Store orders get filled.

BC Liquor Stores use a different computer system. Theirs is tied into LDB Wholesale and thus they can effectively create back orders. Private stores can not do the same.

A caveat: Publically the LDB has always stated that Cross-Docks, Priority Shipping, and ‘Back Orders’ don’t exist, however in practice they do and the current system allows the possibility for them to happen.

Data

At present Portfolio Managers have access to sales data for every product in the province, including those that they don’t currently carry. This gives the LDB an unfair advantage and makes many a private retailer uneasy. It has happened all to often where the LDB suggests to an agent that they should drop a sku from BC Liquor Store shelves in favour of an item that is currently exclusive to the private sector. Can you imagine if Save-On Foods had access to all of their competitors sales and pricing data?

The Future

The hope is that with the separation of BCLDB Wholesale from Retail, that the goose and the gander will be treated the same way and have the same levels of controls and access to data. If this is to be the case then the only difference between the BC Liquor Stores and private stores would be their ability to meet and exceed their customer’s needs, full stop. That is something worth working toward.

Let me know your thoughts and may quality ever fill your glass.

The Dork Uncorked.

Competitive Edge

September 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

image

The only real competitive edge that private liquor retailers have in BC is their product selection. The absolute risky-est position to be in is having a photo-copy of a government store in terms of selection. As a private liquor retailer I have found that the only way for me to best maintain my market share, or to make it grow, is by walking the fine line between listed and spec products.

By having about 40% (and growing) of the products on our shelf that are only available at our stores or in other private retailers, allows me to 1) clearly distinguishes me from government stores, 2) have more control of my margins while maintaining price confidence with the customer, 3) Allows me to focus on customer service in the form of product knowledge, 4) means I can truly say we are professionals.

Why do you choose the lawyer, doctor, dentist, accountant, personal trainer, hair stylist, plumber, etc. that you do? Part of the answer comes in your belief that they are qualified professionals that have spent hundreds of hours being an expert at solving problems that you have in their area of expertise. Chances are you have found them by referral or by meeting them. They conveyed an air of professionalism and confidence that you have come to trust and that trust has always been vindicated. For us in private liquor retail it is no different. What kind of confidence will your customer have in you if your selection says ‘I don’t know anything about this beer/wine/spirit and I don’t care, I just want you to buy it. All I know is that someone told me it sold well”? You need to be their ‘doctor’ of wine, beer and spirits. Your selection should say “in your case I would I’m going to prescribe this wine over that one. That one will work for you to but I think that for today this is the best choice.”

Customer loyalty comes from developing personal relationships and sharing your customers day to day successes and failures, feelings of confidence and defeat, feeling great or suffering from a cold. By saying “I know just the perfect comfort food wine for you, you can’t find it everywhere, but I loved its depth of flavour and boldness of body” you are telling your customer that you care about them. The old saying “I don’t care what you know until I know that you care” is so true when comes to developing lifetime customers in our business. Your selection is your customers silent witness to how much you care about them.

There are hundreds if not thousands of items available right now that offer 40% and 50% margins, are priced for the average joe and blow the doors off the leading brands in terms of quality. It takes work and dedication to find them, but the work and time pays off 10 fold.

Someone I admire once told me to focus on the critical few and forget the trivial many. When your selection says you care, you can then spend most of your time focussed on customer service. This means staff education, product knowledge and engagement, developing better hiring practices, improving the flow of the store, keeping the store clean and having truthful and informative signs on products throughout the store. This is one of the ‘critical few’ and is perhaps the one that delivers the most tangible and intangible positive results in your business.

Start to pare down the ‘me too’ items and replace them with ‘I love this and will stand behind it’ items and your business will be far more secure and fun to operate… no matter what happens with the Liquor Review.

Cheers
The DorkUnCorked

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