When Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan announced on New Year’s Eve the government plans to open 10 wine/liquor stores in select supermarkets, the Twitter chiming and column-riling was heard loud and clear. My take was a relatively benign one, having visited many a supermarket and trailer hitch “LCBO” in the smallest of Ontario’s northern hamlets. Nothing to see here folks, move along.
The proposal is misleading and really has little to do with Tim Hudak’s variety store beer and wine plan. The NP’s Chris Selley was clear in noting that LCBO, small town “Agency” stores have been employing private citizens in the business of peddling alcohol for decades. If Mindemoya, Ontario adds a few mass market wines and VINTAGES Essentials to its roped-off cubby within the local Foodland, how does that change anything?
The announcement that the VINTAGES cache of wine will soon be available for purchase online, now that would be something. Even I would have to be a fool today to argue against private wine stores, an issue the Wine Council of Ontario has addressed with mywineshop.ca. That movement continues to generate interest and support and needs to be taken to the next level. But what about wine online? The VINTAGES model has seen very little to modest success. There have been some very good wines available (though few and far between) but other than a few thousand (maybe) wine geeks, who even knows how and when they are released? This gorgeous Spanish red from Priorat is available right now through the VINTAGES Online website’s January 10th, 2013 release.
- Cesca Vicent Lo Piot 2006; Nigl Grüner Veltliner Gärtling 2011; Bodegas Briego Reserva 2004
Cesca Vicent Lo Piot 2006 (243493, $29) is sweet, sweet Garnacha. Hugely concentrated but hangs on to a thread of mineral decency and resists going over the top. That rocky earth will extend its life by two to three years but the quarry of recklessness means drink up. Modernity thy name is Priorat. 91
Many have argued against slaughtering trees and think the VINTAGES Classics Catalogue should become an exclusive, online only direct sale. I would agree but this too misses the big point. If nothing else, why shouldn’t Ontario consumers be able to buy all available VINTAGES wines online? Simply set a realistic minimum order and charge for delivery. Social responsibility being compromised I imagine would be the argument put forth by the Hudsucker Proxy. All those under age teenagers signing for UPS delivered $75 Napa Cabernets would surely lead to anarchy.
A good number of Ontario wine agents and some specialist online e-tailers sell by the case, which they have to, but that niche is directed at wines not available for purchase at the LCBO. Dial-A-Bottle outfits can deliver single bottles but the strict rules and delivery charges make it cost prohibitive. Bordeaux Futures must be purchased in minimum sets of three. It’s time to change the playing field. Consumers want to shop online. We’re not talking about a non-starter here. VINTAGES, I have an idea for you. Put up some video to increase interest in the wines you sell. I recently filmed such a video:
Here are my tasting notes on the two wines:
Nigl Grüner Veltliner Gärtling 2011 ($22.54) is a strange animal to many, mistakenly considered a Riesling follower but, “something inside reveals you’re magical.” This one goes Niederösterreich green apple and even more parochial with Kremstal’s, micro-climate mineral and floral salinity. Built of solid weight and body but Grüner’s subtlety is certainly the fulcrum of its appeal. Please don’t let it be misunderstood. On the card at Barque. 88
Bodegas Briego Reserva 2004 ($32.95) the gregarious Ribera Del Duero trips the purple light fantastic. Rigorous, vibrant fruit for a Tempranillo caged four years in barrel and a further four in bottle. Currently dances in a cool, complex, mineral-rich, vanilla and plum wheelhouse of optimum fruit excellence. Modern for Ribera and very young at heart. 90
Good to go!