Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Things come in Threes so I'm still Waiting

There is an old expression that states that: Good things come in Threes, so I've got one more to come, or maybe that's trouble come in threes. Anyway a couple of good things happened lately.

First off on the list was yesterday's overdue announcement of Doug Gilmour's induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. This is indeed a good thing, Killer was one of the great players of his generation and the spiritual leader of the last Toronto Maple Leafs to be truly dangerous. The 1992-93 Leafs were a great team that came within one game, some would say one blown call, of the Stanley Cup final. In that 1992-93 season Gilmour, all 155 pounds of him, finished with a Leaf record of 127 points and was named the leagues outstanding defensive player. It still confounds me how Gilmour could be 8th in offense and the best defensive player and not be the MVP but that's another story.

Gilmour lead the Leafs to the conference final again in 93-94 but never got the Blue and White further. Gilmour's stay in Toronto was only six season's but they were great yaers and he was the leader of that team. Gilmour had been passed over in previous HOF voting but this year they finally got it right.

I had the good fortune to serve Doug Gilmour a number of years ago, you can read about my feelings here.

The second piece of good fortune is likely more relevant to my readers, my house wine has dropped over $1.00 in its' retail price. For those with short memories I have been drinking the delightful La Casona, an old vines gem from the biggest producer in the Yecla region of Spain, Bodegas Castano. The wine is old vines Monastrell (Mourvedre/Mataro) and it's both consistent and delicious.

The wine was $8.99 when I first discovered it a few months and then quickly jumped to $9.50, still good value, but today at the boozer I picked up a couple of bottles and noticed that the price was down to $8.50. It's a good thing indeed, at least as long as it doesn't mean they are stopping shipping it. Hmmmmmmmmm, maybe I don't have #2 yet, but in the meantime buy a few bottles of La Casona, it's perfect for grilling season, assuming we are going to eventually get grilling season.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Trouble with BC Wines

With Canada Day just around the corner I got to thinking about our domestic wine industry and what is wrong with it. Don't get me wrong, I have great respect for the men and women who are working in the local wine industry, I've been around long enough to remember when the quality was abysmal and Canadian wines were things like:


So while we have come a long way we still have a long way to go.

The quality of BC wines overall is good but the pricing and consumer access is abysmal, in the mid range and the top end the prices are too high, and there is no bottom end/entry level. What I mean is that among 100% BC wines there is only one available in the LDB system that sells for less than $12.49 per bottle so the bottom end of the market has been abandoned.

There are 160 wines listed at $12.49 - $19.99 and with rare exceptions I can guarantee you that there are many, many examples from Spain, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and Australia selling for $2-$5 a bottle less that will kick the crap out of the locals in quality .

At the top end there are some genuinely terrific BC wines but you either can't buy them, due to limited production, or they are unrealistically priced again, or both. I am fortunate that my position allows me to sample a great many of the Super Premium BC wines and I can tell you I have yet to drink one that could not be blown out of the water by less expensive wines from other countries. I mean really $45 for Cedar Creek's Platinum Malbec ? I can buy a half a dozen Argentinian reserve Malbecs for less than $30 and they will all be better than the Cedar Creek .

Then there is the distribution setup that makes it ludicrous for BC wineries to sell their product in the Government stores, the winery receives 20-50% more by selling direct or through private stores. The result of this is that the wines are not in wide distribution and, since most private stores add additional markups, the prices are even higher, compounding the value for dollar issue even further.

Listen there are a number of reasons to buy BC wines, patriotism, carbon footprint, romantic folly but none are sound economically. We may live in the only wine producing country in existence where imported wines are cheaper than domestic, and before you start in on :

But the labour costs and land costs are so much higher, I have two points for you:

1) I don't care, if your business model requires you to sell equal, at best, quality products for a higher cost it's a damn poor model.

2) Germany

It will eventually get to be grilling weather this summer and when it does I'd love to slap some burgers on the grill and reach for a nice cheap full throttle BC red to go with the burgers, but I won't. What I will do is crack open something from Spain, or Chile, or Argentina that is solid quality at $10-$12 a bottle and wish it wasn't so.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Too Old ? The Wine version

The other day I was in the government store at Arbutus Village, which is a well stocked and well run store it should be noted . While cruising the aisles looking for new plonk I came across a floor stack of a couple of cases of a Portuguese Red, Cortello, which was deeply discounted from $13.99 down to $9.79.

I recalled having drunk the wine a few months back and thinking it was reasonable so I grabbed two bottles for the "discount taste test" and headed to the counter. The "discount taste test" is something I do whenever an unknown wine, or very old vintage, is deeply discounted. I grab two bottles and taste then that night, or the next day, to see if there is a major flaw that has resulted in the discount, and there often is. In this case I couldn't think of what the flaw might be but at checkout I was surprised to hear the clerk say: "Oh I guess it's on sale because it's almost past it's due date".

I quickly checked the bottle, expecting to see something in the 2003 range, but no the wine is a vintage 2007. When I expressed my surprise at that comment the clerk replied, Oh 2007, that's pretty much over the hill.

I did not reply, but it is a sad commentary that someone who sells wine, theoretically, for a living would think that a wine that was still fresh fruit on the vine three and a half years ago would be too old.. There is an old chestnut in the wine world that 90% of the wine made in the world is meant to be drunk within two years of bottling, even if that is true it doesn't mean that iut HAS to be drunk within two years of bottling .

Anyway the Estremedura Cortello is drinking nicely, it's a good value and solid for the, hopefully, upcoming outdoor grilling weather. There is lots available, over 4,000 bottles as of this morning, so grab a bottle or two of this ancient vintage and enjoy .