CORKAGE: On Blue Mountain, Questionable BCLDB Stats And Three Cheers For Clerides

May 26, 2011.

Amorita Bastaja is a manager at Legacy Liquor Store, the largest liquor store in British Columbia (located in the Athlete’s Village), and the Wine Editor of Scout. Her love of imbibing steered her through courses from the International Sommelier Guild and the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, and has taken her to many wine regions, including Washington State, Napa and Sonoma, Piemonte, Veneto, Tuscany, Abruzzo, Provence and all over the Okanagan Valley. Her weekly column – Corkage – covers a bottle of note, something overheard and many words read…

Bottle: I’ve always been a huge fan of Blue Mountain Vineyards and Cellars, located near Okanagan Falls. IMHO they create some of the best wines coming out of the Okanagan (along with Tantalus and Joie, but that’s for another Corkage). I recently sipped through the line-up, and was once again thrilled at the quality and value the wines offer. This notion of value is something many BC wineries espouse to have, and sometimes I have trouble buying it. The non-vintage Blue Mountain Brut (private wine stores, approx. $30) was creamy in texture due to lots of lees contact. It exhibited lovely toasty, citrusy and apple notes. The 2009 Pinot Noir (private wine stores, $30) was also a standout. The wine was partially fermented with wild yeast native to the region, and it shows. It is funky in all the right ways, showing great potential to become quite complex. A true expression of Okanagan terroir!

Overheard: Three cheers for John Clerides and the Georgia Straight for continuing to push the conversation of liquor privatization here in British Columbia. According to the BCLDB Service Plan for fiscal 2011 to 2014 they completed a customer satisfaction survey where 90% of retail customers were satisfied and 86% of wholesale customers were satisfied. I’m really curious to know: have you received a satisfaction survey from the BCLDB lately? Please share!

Read: Liv-ex, an online trading platform for fine wine recently released their re-calculation of the original 1855 Classification, a ranking of Bordeaux wines based on trading price. On the top of the list was Chateau Lafite, at a whopping average of 11,043 pounds per case…Speaking of overpriced French wine, Christie’s Geneva auction house recently sold a single 750 mL bottle of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 1945 for $123,889 (US)…Just when you thought Constellation Brands had learned its lesson by cutting ties with the Australian wine market, CEO Rob Sands expresses an interest in Treasury Wine Estates, the behemoth formerly known as Fosters…Local winery Summerhill plans to launch bag in a box 3L wines even though they don’t constitute VQA (question for the sommeliers out there: does your by-the-glass program need bag in the box?)…Also worth celebrating with a glass of wine is the 35th anniversary of the Judgement of Paris, where a blind tasting of California versus French had the California wines on top…The winners of the All Canadian Wine Awards were announced this week (congratulations to Blasted Church on winning Best Red Wine of the Year for their 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend)…Wines of Chile has partnered with the BC Hospitality Foundation for this year’s Dish ‘N’ Dazzle Fundraiser on June 17th, a see and be seen event with over 25 Chilean wineries participating, a cocktail competition with the city’s hottest bartenders and top restaurants providing the food.

  • Justin Everett

    Just to be clear, Legacy is the “largest liquor store in British Columbia,” only when measured by square footage. Don’t get me wrong, I love their selection of beers and spirits, especially Scotch, but their wine selection pales in comparison to many stores with a smaller footprint, including Marquis, Everything Wine, Liberty Point Grey, and Kitsilano Wine Cellar. Love the store, but it feels kind of empty.

  • Amorita Bastaja

    Good point Justin – sq footage is the measure here. I should point out as well that we are talking about different liquor licenses. Those stores you mentioned have wine only licenses, so they can’t sell spirits or beer. And with a wine only license, everything wine on the north shore is larger than legacy. Cheers!

  • Doug Decloux

    I took a stroll down there yesterday and although the point that it looks sort of empty is a good one, the scotch selection if off the charts. I’ve never seen so much scotch for sale in one place, in my life. Sad part is the typical private liquor store prices. I live close to Brewery Creek and was pretty sure their selection of crafts beer was best. This place makes it looks like 7-Eleven. Again off the charts. Didn’t really look much at the wine. Other than my favourite Argentinian Malbec that they did have and liquor stores don’t carry it.

  • David J. Cooper

    I had kind of a wierd experince there a month or so ago. I went in to have a look, the store seems to have the feel of a hotel lobby with a bunch of spirits out front and a few nooks with small shelves containing wine.

    I asked a young staffer if there were any other bottles of Italian wine and he asked me if I wanted to see the cellar? OK. He unlocked a back room and took me in and showed me a few binders with pictures of wine bottles.

    I’m not sure who the store is targeting but it doesn’t seem to be the serious wine drinker like myself or my friends. Nice selection of affordable Grappa though.

  • John Clerides

    The conversation is not really about privatization it is about adding value to our industry.

    As an example the BCLDB will be getting rid of special orders, while I am all for streamlining and computerizing the paper work, its currently a manual system, the BCLDB will retain the right to special order Bordeaux, without the use of an agent while I will have to use an agent and incur extra warehousing charges. What does this mean, higher prices for you or me just stopping to offer Bordeaux futures, this will cost me a huge amount in lost revenue, but they do not care. I am the only one in the province who currently offers this service.

    One would think they would want to encourage the private sector to add value to the market but this seems not to be the case. Yes I know, my wife has Terrarosa Imports, but they are two separate & independent businesses.

    We have no auction system in the province, private stores cannot sell to restaurants, and BC wines cannot ship out of the province to their customers. We have no BYO in the province and lastly the BCLDB has an RFI for having their own credit card, all 8000 licensed establishments in the province would have to use it.

    In Oregon local wineries cal sell their wine at farmers markets, in Walla Walla, once a ghost town, has been revived by the wine industry, many wineries have their wine tasting rooms and people can taste, with glass in hand, from one room to another.

    We have an election coming up, send your MLA an email, and tell them who you are, site SPECIFIC examples of your frustrations. Collectively we have the power to change so here is the full list of our MLA email addresses

  • Bastian Rivage

    BCLDB claiming that their clients are satisfied is like the gaurds at Guantanamo saying their inmates are happy. What a joke.
    BCLDB is an antiquated head in the sand operation that can’t seem to understand that there are there to serve us, The public should be deciding policy and they want Corkage, they want lower prices and larger selection, they want boutique wines, not just the corporate swill they prefer to carry. The world has moved forward.
    Quo Vadis BC?

    PS Blue Mountain sparkling is anything but creamy, it is tart tart tart.
    Great, but not creamy.


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