Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New Experts in a Changing World

Frank's Rant

This morning I read a blog from Vinography with a link to US News which credited Alder, the blog’s creator, as having a “connoisseur site” for wine information. I found it fascinating that a publication as conservative as US News would now acknowledge a blog as a quality wine resource – showing some wine blogs now have more creditability than the traditional glossy magazines which were, rather conspicuously, not citied at all.

The issue that this article brought home for me was, once again, our provincial (British Columbia) monopoly. Applejack Wine and Spirits, the Colorado store mentioned in the US News article, has 15,000 items in inventory and some 80,000 cases of wine. In our entire, province-wide LCB system we don’t have 15,000 different wines available for purchase. At last count it was 5,386 items (including beer) and 3,649 wines. What’s wrong with this picture?

Prices are even more of an eye opener. Here are a few comparisons. Beringer’s 2002 Knights Valley on sale for $15 US which coverts to $28.61 Cdn: LCB lists it for $49.99. Clos du Marquis Bordeaux costs $46 US ($51.02 Cdn), unless of course you buy it in BC where it will set you back $75. Applejack also lists a Columbia Crest Pinot Grigio for $5 US – that’s $5 in US dollars for a bottle of wine, folks. Unfortunately, of course, it’s not available here in BC at any price let alone at $5, although there are some Columbia Crest Wines at $9.95 – some of the lowest prices I’ve seen at the LCB.

Apparently, American consumers are getting overwhelmed with the variety of wines they have available at good prices. I wish I had their problem. Let me have a choice of 15,000 items and who needs sale prices anyway?

Check out these stories for youself at

Susan’s note:

Coincidentally, a couple of days ago I’d been trying to explain the relevance and credibility of blogs to my (naturalized American) sister who freely admits she “doesn’t get it.” Even though we have the same parents, she grew up in a different era – and yes, I’m proud of the fact that even though we are 23 years apart in age we are still such good friends. What was most interesting for me – aside from the concept of a single store with 80,000 cases of wine – was the concept that here was a tradition publication, one she’s always respected, talking about blogging as a reputable source of information. What was most disappointing was the fact she recently moved away from her home of some 14 years – a home that was only two hours drive away from Applejacks.


Anonymous said...

Whenever Canadians come into the tasting room where I work, my heart goes out to them. I've heard about the lack of selection and the limitations on how much wine can be brought back into the country. One or two bottles? Then an American couple told me how they drive to visit their friends, sneaking in a case or two of wine. Now, that's a story to warm the heart.

Anonymous said...

I also live under the BC Liquor system, and boy, do I find it frustrating!

Even worse, is the 2-bottle per person limit for crossing the border, which tends to frustrate any out-of-province wine touring activities. I brought 6 bottles back from Sonoma, and promptly got assessed 110% in taxes.

This month I'm experimenting with WineCommune.com to see if I can get some good wines, ahem, olive oil, across the border without any additional taxes or duties.

If that experiment fails, I think I might start an annual pilgrimate to Alberta to stock up on a few cases. Their selection is superior, and pricing appears to be 20-30% less.

Anonymous said...

Those prices are absolutely criminal. What a bummer.

Time for a summer house south of the border so you can at least drink decent wine a couple months out of the year?

Thanks for the nod.