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LCBO Vintages Corner


jayt90
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Excellent.  Thank you.  I will keep following this thread.  I find the way that wine is sold in Ontario both confusing and antiquated, but perhaps with your help I will be able to navigate the LCBO's troubled waters.

"Confusing and antiquated" indeed! Check out this article on consignment buying I wrote for Malcolm's fine Gremolata.com site:

Buying Consignment Wine

I hope that helps a bit...

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There is an interesting, ongoing discussion in Pennsylvania with Chairman Jonathan Newman, of the PLCB. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's wine marketing is in many ways similar to the LCBO, and worth looking at.

But it is hard to imagine Andy Brandt, or any of the top brass at the LCBO coming here for a 4 day discussion!

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jmcnally: i'd be willing to go point for point on how the SAQ is worse! hehe. Though between the two provinces, i'm mostly covered when it comes to what I want to drink. I find the main exceptions are the Oregon and BC wines. Now if only i could think of a reason to make regular business trips to BC and Oregon.

Disclaimer: 1) a renunciation of any claim to or connection with; 2) disavowal; 3) a statement made to save one's own ass

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"Confusing and antiquated" indeed! Check out this article on consignment buying I wrote for Malcolm's fine Gremolata.com site:

Buying Consignment Wine

I hope that helps a bit...

Hmm - your stats (in the article) are surprising to me. 75% of wines available in Ontario are imported through the consignment program. If you are including Vintages and Classics selections in that statistic, then it's misleading as these are available to the public 'by the bottle'. If you're not, then I understand that the LCBO offers between 5 and 10,000 'selections' of wine per year (18,000 including spirits).

Even taking 5000, then that implies 15,000 additional selections are available through consignment (really?!). Only a handful of agents (maybe 10) offer tastings, that I'm aware of. And my 'success' rate with consignment orders is definitely patchy. My attempted orders have 'disappeared', been 'cancelled as the LCBO has bought the wine instead, so we can't sell it separately', and been unfulfilled as the wine is no longer available. And a couple of Lifford 'future' wines offered through the big tasting didn't arrive and my 50% deposit was refunded (without interest) over 12 months after it was taken.

I'm not trying to target your agency - which I consider to be one of the best around. Just want to present a balancing opinion to show that consignment ordering has its own risks - and certainly greater rewards in some cases (literally), although my most recent order (not Lifford) had one wine that failed the lab test (another risk).

And the wines already here in the consignment warehouse are mostly (my opinion) lower end wines for which there is a 'reasonable' substitute - their market is restaurant wine lists where, in some situations (carefully worded to avoid targeting any place in particular), the restaurant doesn't want the patron to know the cost of the wine, so she won't figure out the markup charged. Example - scan winelists for 'cheaper' Australian Shiraz selections, not available at LCBO. They dominate the shelves at my local LCBO and I can't believe there's many bargains available through consignment where there isn't a perfectly good substitute available already.

And continuing the example - where are the wonderful Clare Valley Rieslings (here's your opportunity to respond with the Mitchell!) and especially the Geelong Pinot Noirs, that the LCBO DON'T have and I can't find at any Agent either. Both areas produce extremely food-friendly wines and are (hardly) ever seen here.

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estufarian,

My stats are probably not exact, as I took them from some information passed on to me by my boss, a rather inexact man. :smile:

But I'm sure that many of the problems you've experienced with the consignment program are due to the many many restrictions and regulations placed on it by the LCBO. Doesn't it strike you as a bit strange that consignment agents are forced to use the LCBO to warehouse their wines? I mean, we are their competition, but they have power over us in so many ways. Not to mention that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission also has jurisdiction over us, and they're a sister agency to the LCBO itself. There are just so many hiccups in dealing with the government regulations that it's difficult to explain to the average person who just wants to buy wine.

The very basic rule that we have to sell by the case probably cuts out about 90% of the possible consumer sales, since a lot of people just can't afford to buy full cases of everything, especially something they haven't tried before. I mean, I don't even buy full cases, and I work here!

So, we're hopeful that the current review of the LCBO will produce some good fruit, if you'll pardon the pun. I'm not expecting miracles, personally, but step by step, hopefully we'll be able to provide more and better service and selections to wine lovers.

(And I should just note that I'm not speaking in any offical capacity for Lifford here. These are just my impressions after working here for a couple of years.)

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Let that be a warning to you.

If I've told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate. :biggrin:

Things have improved from the really bad old days (or at least they had for a while). I used to eagerly await the Vintages catalogue - now I hardly glance at it. And the percentage success rate with the catalogue is most frustrating. So I really value the work done by the Agents.

Let's hope the review takes a common-sense approach.

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.

And continuing the example - where are the wonderful Clare Valley Rieslings (here's your opportunity to respond with the Mitchell!) and especially the Geelong Pinot Noirs, that the LCBO DON'T have and I can't find at any Agent either. Both areas produce extremely food-friendly wines and are (hardly) ever seen here.

There is a small amount of Yalumba Eden Valley Riesling available ($30) but you are mostly right, my favoured south Australia riesling is not now in the stores. There was a nice Annie's Lane 2003 Riesling at $19, and a so so Penfold's Reserve Riesling 2003 at $25. Let's hope they bring back the Henschke single vineyard rieslings.

Edited by jayt90 (log)
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I was at the Dupont & Spadina LCBO this afternoon and they had all their April 30 Releases out for sale! With one exception, a Cloudy Bay, which they actually posted a message about, saying it would only go onsale at 9:30, because of strong demand.

I knew this sometimes happened at out of the way stores, but they seemed quite open about it. Is this a new policy or a maverick store?

Malcolm Jolley

Gremolata.com

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So anyone get run over today by a cart load of Cloudy Bay? Summerhill was nuts agian.

$30 is the highest price yet for a Sauvignon Blanc. You have to wonder if it is worth it.

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Yeah, pretty pricey stuff. I was moving out the door in droves though. I tried to get some of the Kilikanoon Oracle Shiraz and that was rationed down to 1 bottle per person. The Kim Crawford Sauv. Blanc was all going quick as well.

Edited by Manolo (log)
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  • 1 month later...
here's a list of delightful spatlese rieslings, most of quality, available at the lcbo for $20 and under:

HAUTT RUDESHEIMER ROSENGARTEN SPATLESE

Germany | WEINGUT EDUARD HAUTT K.G.

LCBO 37507 | 750 mL | $ 12.05

SIEGERREBE SPATLESE 2001

Germany | Weingut Werner Anselmann

VINTAGES 722041 | 750 mL | $ 14.95

RIESLING SPATLESE 2002

Germany | Weingut Louis Guntrum

VINTAGES 913848 | 750 mL | $ 14.95

RIESLING SPATLESE 2001

Germany | Weingut Königswingert

VINTAGES 915975 | 750 mL | $ 14.95

SCHEUREBE SPATLESE 2001

Germany | Weingut Meiser

VINTAGES 927830 | 750 mL | $ 14.95

RIESLING SPATLESE 2002

Germany | Weingut Carl Finkenauer

VINTAGES 996249 | 750 mL | $ 14.95

RIESLING SPATLESE 2001

Germany | Porta Nigra

VINTAGES 927749 | 750 mL | $ 15.95

RIESLING SPATLESE 1995

Germany | Weingut Dr. Zenzen

VINTAGES 960138 | 750 mL | $ 17.95

RIESLING SPATLESE 1999

Germany | Weingut J. & .H.A. Strub

VINTAGES 707117 | 750 mL | $ 18.95

RIESLING SPATLESE 1998

Germany | Weingut Studert-Prüm

VINTAGES 912659 | 750 mL | $ 18.95

RIESLING SPATLESE 2002

Germany | Weingut J. & H. Selbach

VINTAGES 995738 | 750 mL | $ 18.95

RIESLING SPATLESE 2001

Germany | Weingut Hans Lang

VINTAGES 901280 | 750 mL | $ 19.95

RIESLING SPATLESE 2001

Germany | Weingut Villa Sachsen

VINTAGES 905489 | 750 mL | $ 19.95

RIESLING SPATLESE 2001

Germany | Weingut Karl Lingenfelder

VINTAGES 928192 | 750 mL | $ 19.95

RIESLING SPATLESE 2001

Germany | Weingut G.H. von Mumm

VINTAGES 980185 | 750 mL | $ 19.95

here's a list of spatlese wines available from the saq under $20:

0

Not to mention a smattering of good rieslings from Australia, New Zealand, Ontario, and Alsace, all under $20.

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I wonder if it's because Claudius Fehr is in charge of Old World wine selections, and he has a German background. Certainly, I'm happy and I think German wine in general is undervalued.

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We are lucky to have a good selection of German whites presently, as they have been up and down over the years, but mostly down. There was an odd Vintages introduction of a very large QMP selection (maybe 10 years ago) which was sold only in southwestern Ontario (Kitchener to Windsor) because the LCBO thought that's where they might find the Germans! The rest of us were SOL.

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  • 2 months later...

Bordeaux Futures Catalogue just out.

The 2004 Bordeaux Futures catalogue has been issued, and also includes Vintage Port 2003 pre-arrivals.

Both lists can be ordered by mail, fax or e-mail by Sept. 9, to get in the selection lottery. Phone orders start on Sept. 20.

The 2004 clarets are still expensive, and not as good as the excellent (and still available) 2003 selection. Parker has found no sleepers here, and most well rated wines are over $100. A few worth looking at include: Latour, $299; Forts de Latour, $84; Pontet Canet, $73; Calon Segur $65; Leoville -Las Cases, $139; Vieux-Chateau-Certan, $119; Pavie-Macquin, $69; Troplong Mondot, $69; Mouton, $265. Lafite and Haut Brion are in the same range, but the heavy hitters from the right bank are more ($799 for Le Pin).

The list of 19 2003 vintage ports is more successful. They range from $55 to $129, and there are three well rated ones (95-100 by J. Suckling) in the lower range:

Niepoort $85;

Quinta De Roriz $65.

Quinta Do Vale Meao $55. (92-94 W.S.)

Quinta Do Vesuvio $79.

I'll order some of each, hoping to get one or two. They will be here in December.

I'll pass on the Bordeaux, as it may be a hard sell.

Edited by jayt90 (log)
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The prices on some of the Ports are nuts as well. There are still some great 2000's on the shelves that are priced at $20-30 less than the 03 futures price. My money is going into grabbing a few more of the 2000's and older ports. As for the Bordeaux, I'll wait for thier regular release or pick up more while in the US. We get killed on Bordeaux prices here..

Edited by Manolo (log)
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The prices on some of the Ports are nuts as well. There are still some great 2000's on the shelves that are priced at $20-30 less than the 03 futures price. My money is going into grabbing a few more of the 2000's and older ports. As for the Bordeaux, I'll wait for thier regular release or pick up more while in the US. We get killed on Bordeaux prices here..

Thanks, I'll have a look at the 2000 vintage ports. I think the LCBO is misleading a lot of buyers by asking for money now, and delivery in December. Some buyers will be tempted to make these ports part of their holiday celebrations, but the wine won't be ready. It is just now going from barrel to bottle.

Edited by jayt90 (log)
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Best example of overpriced Port is the Fonseca, the 03 Futures are $129 per bottle, and the the 2000's are still on the shelves at $99. Besides, who knows if I'll be around to enjoy a 2003 port at its peak in 25-30 years :wink:

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____________The Wine Glut_____________

Recent articles in the Economist, and the Guardian, describe a global wine glut, particularly bad in Europe and Australia. Some new chardonnay vineyards in the Melbourne area could not give away their first crops. There are many thousands of litres of wine, much already bottled, in EU that are being converted to brandy. And there is a lot of new wine starting to appear from distant shores, such as Georgia, Brazil, Mexico, and Eastern Europe.

This should be good news for consumers, especially in the $10/bottle or below range. As the fall-out continues, there will be increasing pressure on better wines, $20 and higher, to become more competitive. The best way to force more competition in fine table wines, will be the appearance of new kids on the block. We have seen new, high quality Australian and

U.S. products over the last few years, and hopefully there will be more (notwithstanding a possible U.S./Canadian trade war).

Let's hope that the leaders in the industry, the critics, writers, and import/exporters, are right now searching for new upstarts, and sleepers, in all areas, to put pressure on the the established marques, and to keep new vineyards from becoming next years brandy.

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Good points, Jay. Not to mention the rapidly increasing quality of our own Ontario wines. I just spent the weekend in Niagara and for the first time found myself impressed with some of the reds. (Egad!). I actually bought some, mostly 2002s.

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Which reds did you end up picking up? I've heard great things about Tawse, I've tried some of the Stratus wines and enjoyed them but the $38 price tag for the red was a bit much for me, for that price there are much better wines out there.

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I picked up the 2003 Pinot Noir from Flat Rock Cellars ($24), the 2001 Reserve Pinot Noir from Vineland (reduced to $20 from $45), the 2002 Cabernet Franc from Strewn ($28), and the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon from Lailey ($35).

At Tawse, I tried some Riesling and Chardonnay, but didn't find the staff very helpful. This always makes a huge difference for me. At Lailey, I got to taste with Derek Barnett, the winemaker, and at Vineland, spent about twenty minutes with a very knowledgeable staff guy, studying for his sommelier qualification, who tasted with me (not sure he was supposed to do that!). I've always had good experiences at Vineland. The staff at Chateau de Charmes, however, aren't up to scratch, in my opinion.

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  • 2 months later...

Did anyone manage to pick up the wine of the month (well, one of them) in October, Muga Rioja Reserve (red) at $20., promoted with a Parker 92 rating?

I was at work on the Saturday release date, and did not get to a store until Tuesday. All gone!

How can a wine of the month sell out, all over the GTA, in a day or two? Why call it a wine of the month?

Is this a "loss leader"?

Or "bait and switch"?

While I could have reserved some bottles by calling, I really expected the supplies to be very strong, across the province, for an expensively promoted 'Wine of the Month'!

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I saw people going out with them by the case. I think there were 1200 cases across the province which is pretty average for the feature wines. I don't think it costs the LCBO anything to promote these wines, I think the covers are prime space that they charge a nice premium for.

I managed to grab 3 full bottles and 2 halves. The price and the Parker score printed in the catalog made this one a sure thing to sell out. The funny thing is that the Parker tasting note and score are for the "unfiltered" version of the Muga Reserva, the one released here was filtered.

What bothered me more was the D'arenberg Coppermine Road that was released last weekend, they publish the Parker score of 93 and only bring in 160 - 6packs. Summerhill got a total of 40 bottles. Luckily I got 2, I loved this wine at the D'arenberg tasting dinner the LCBO held at George back in September.

Edited by Manolo (log)
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