Thursday, September 24, 2009

Low Cost Wines, Media, Scandalous...lets get it straight!

It must have been a slow day around the National Post office. Lets see how can we blow this one up to grab some attention. California couple buys a bottle of "BC" wine and discovers it is California wine. Add the word "scandalous" and you have a story. It worked because the story was copied and repeated many times. I have a problem with this kind of reporting. First of all buyer beware. Do read the label! There is a market for inexpensive wines and the big three wine producers mentioned in the article are there to supply you with what you are prepared to pay for your wine.
Secondly, this has been going on for years.So suddenly this is worthy of a news item? Look at the Ontario scenario.Read this interesting synopsis of the situation in that province.. It may not be ideal or right but it is quite open and above board and a government sanctioned situation.

Third on my list. I am not necessarily a fan of the British Columbia Liquor Licensing and Liquor Distribution system, having had my own 4 year battle with them, but where might I ask should these wines be displayed? If they contain mostly California grapes should they go under the imported US, California section or if mostly Washington grapes should they be displayed under Washington state wines? Give me a break and stop stupid reporting like this. I do however have a problem with the minister responsible pretending he was unaware of this situation. So chase that down for a newsworthy story.
In the end what is really scandalous is the outrageous mark up and taxes imposed on wines here in BC and similarly in other provinces. For us it is 117%. So your cheap imported plonk, suddenly is not so cheap anymore.
I have said it before but my favorite US President said it all when he said:
" I think it is a great error to consider a heavy tax on wines as a tax on luxury. On the contrary, it is a tax on the health of our citizens."
Thomas Jefferson, American president and Renaissance man, (1743-1826)
Since we all know wine is good for your health, I say lower taxes on wine. It is time to put a whopping tax on those "whoppers" and fries. Greasy hamburgers cannot be good for the average citizen and are creating a burden on our health care system. Tax them!!


10 comments:

wendy said...

Wilf, dude, I just read your article on a Spanish Sommelier website!! GREAT article by the way, and so true. You can take that same scenario and apply it to many years of history of the French buying Spanish bulk wine and ... well.. you know they have always been Spain's largest buyers of bulk wine! I agree, read the label, be realistic about the price range you are purchasing at, and lobby your govt. about the crushing taxes. Hope you are well, and enjoying BC's Best. Hugs and kisses, Wendy

Wilf G.K said...

Wendy!! How thrilling to hear from you. Just got in from a luncheon with the Vina Maipo winemaker, Max Weinlaub from Chile. They are making some very good wines at good pricing for our market, in spite of the crushing taxes. Hope you are well!! Hugs to you Wendy too!

Warren Bobrow said...

it's tough to find lousy wines in Chile...
http://www.wildriverreview.com/wrratlarge/?tag=warren-bobrow

Rémy Charest said...

I don't get how you can say that everything is above board with Cellared in Canada wines. The fact that they are side by side with VQA wines on the shelves is deceptive, the fact that the labelling does just about everything to make them look like Canadian wine is deceptive, and the fact that bottlers minimize any indication that the wines are actually from unspecified countries is also deceptive.

Consumers don't know what they're getting, and Jancis Robinson reported that a BC Liquor Board employee who she asked pointedly about the content of Cellared in Canada wines swore that they were made from Canadian wine. If the employees can't even tell what they're selling, I'd be tempted to call the situation scandalous. Wouldn't you?

Wilf G.K said...

Warren, you got that right. Just had lunch with Max Weinlaub, the wine maker from Vina Maipo and drank his marvelous wines.Good pricing too.

Wilf G.K said...

Remy, BC liquor board employees, other than product consultants, are not required to have extensive product knowledge. Its not like the private sector where your business' success or failure depends on it. Maybe the question to ask is should governments be in the business of selling alcoholic products?
I can think of a whole lot of other issues that are infinitely more 'scandalous'. How about the homeless, the unemployed, the poor?
This situation scandalous? No!

Carl Brown said...

You know... Back to my old-old-old comments about 'why wouldn't we all just buy the high rated wines'...

Last month I joined onto Wine.com and got that free-shipping thing. (This is really quite cool to order any wine -- just a bottle -- and not have to pay shipping). But, that's not the point. Point is, I can now sort by 'high rating, low price'.

What you said that 'everyone has different preferences' is so true. I found a bunch of 94+ rated wines and was sad that they were just 'good solid wines' but certainly not exceptionally so.

It seems that the wine rating system is nearly useless? But, origin does seem to help a LOT. It's a bit like a favorite director for movies -- if it comes from Napa or Chile it's probably going to be 'as good as it's price'. i.e. neither area is going to sell it for less than it's good -- but they will try to charge too much for it...

So, now I just keep trying $10-15 wines that I like from regions I like from vintages I like. Occasionally, I'll have a $50 bottle and go 'wowie-wow-wow' but those $50 bottles aren't ever rated any higher than the $10 bottles.

Which makes me wonder who gives those ratings in the first place...

wendy said...

Carl... try a Spanish selection of wines priced between 10 and 15$, I bet you will be impressed with the price/quality ratio!!

Wilf G.K said...

Hello Carl, sorry for the delay in responding. After weeks of struggling with it, I finally put my poor cat Tiki to sleep yesterday. She would have been 21 on Christmas day. She had an inoperable oral malignant tumour. I am very sad about it. But your observations about the point system are essentially what is wrong with any point system. Since you get my wine newsletter (as does wonderful Wendy)you notice I do not use points. I do not want my readers to be influenced by points given to a wine. Having said that, I do use the 20 point system when I meet with my panel just as a guide line. But the most difficult thing I run into is to keep the panel 'objective'. Subjectivity creeps in almost every time. Too many critics out there, not enough tasters just appreciating a well made wine. And yes,Carl, Wendy is so right about excellent value wines coming from Spain. Cheers to both of you !

Carl Brown said...

Wilf -
I agree on the Spanish wines. I'm still figuring them out but I have found 'spanish table red' to be some of the best deals anywhere. Even a $5 spanish red is typically a solid, excellent wine. It's actually my preference with Pizza (or, a Chianti) because it doesn't seem to influence the flavor but is great on its own.

I'm sorry to hear about Tiki. I can only imagine that kind of loss.

Looking forward to more reviews... You'll have to post what you go w/ for Thanksgiving? I bought a couple Rieslings...