February 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
Grenache 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.
the Dork UnCorked
Tune into CFAX 1070 at 2pm on Saturday afternoons for the Dork UnCorked Radio Hour.
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.
The Dork UnCorked
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.
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
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
November 26, 2015 § Leave a comment
What makes some people incredible 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.
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.
If you have the opportunity to try this wine, please let me know your thoughts.
January 13, 2015 § Leave a comment
Score: 6.8 – Good Drop
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.
Store Section: BC/VQA
Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Tuscany Village
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September 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
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.
July 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
In Part I I focussed on a number of the largest differences between public and private liquor retailing in BC. Part II showcases four behind the scenes differences that are a big deal.
The first of which is the ability to transfer product between stores owned by the same people or group. At present BC Liquor Stores can and commonly do transfer between their own stores. That means if a product is moving in one store but not another, BC Liquor Stores can legally move product from one store to another no matter where the two stores are located. It is illegal for private retailers to transfer product between private stores even if those stores are owned by the same person, or group.
Second, on average 30% of revenues generated by BC Liquor Stores are through the back door. In other words by sales to licensees such as restaurants and private liquor stores. It is illegal for private retailers to sell to licensees or other private liquor stores.
Third, any new product or a product that has arrived back into inventory gets uploaded into the computer systems at the BC LDB before anyone, including BC Liquor Stores, can order it. However BC Liquor Stores have access to order these products 2 days before private liquor stores.
Private liquor stores pay business taxes to the province that are calculated per store, thus the operations of each individual store are subject to traditional accounting practices. BC Liquor Stores are not subject to business taxes.
Part III will wrap this all up and make some conclusions as to the best plan of attack moving forward.
July 26, 2012 § Leave a comment
This week the LCLB announced that they will be conducting ‘sting’ operations around the province in both private and public liquor retail stores.
What they do is hire a minor and send them into liquor stores to see if the stores check for 2 pieces of valid ID. The inspector follows them in and stands behind them in line to watch the transaction unfold.
If the store clerk doesn’t check for 2 pieces or accepts a piece of ID that is not official, then the store will receive a contravention notice. If they have received a contravention notice of any sort before, they will be fined $7500 or be closed for a specific period of time and forced to place a big red sign in a prominent position saying that they sold liquor to an underage person.
If the attempt is to curtail underage drinking then this process is flawed and here is why:
1) It doesn’t charge the offender. Only the store gets charged and not the underage person attempting to purchase alcohol. It takes at least two parties to sell to underage buyers and both should be held accountable. Let’s face it if you were caught speeding on the highway, you would be charged and most of us would think it ridiculous if the dealer who sold you the car was the only one charged.
2) Different strokes for different folks. A fine assessed to a private retailer is money out of the retailers pocket. A fine assessed to a public store is money out of the government pocket and therefore there is really no impact on the store or its employees.
3) Doesn’t get to the root of the issue. Why is underage drinking such a problem? Or why do kids want to drink? Let’s be clear the problem isn’t that kids want a drink, it’s that they want too much to drink. The problem is that, for kids, drinking is taboo or cool. This is a direct function of not making our kids aware of what wine, beer and spirits are and how they fit into a healthy lifestyle.
Let me know your thoughts.