Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Champagne or sparkling wine the drink of choice on New Years Eve!

"Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, content, and sufficient Champagne.

 - Dorothy Parker

Happy New Year!  It's New Years Eve tonight and you don't yet have your champagne or sparkling wine bought yet?  Worse still, you don't know what to buy?

Have no fear, bubbles information is here!

There are some delicious and even very affordable sparkling wines available in your local BC Liquor store - even one Wine Spectator Top 100 bottle rated 91 points from California for just $22.99!

That Mumm Napa Brut Prestige is ranked #54 in the 2014 Wine Spectator Top 100 list - and it is my top recommendation for an affordable but excellent New Years toast.

Best of all, there are 2,433 bottles available in government Liquor Stores across BC and it is actually on sale - $22.99 is $3 off the regular price through January 3, 2015.  This bubbly and others are also available in some private stores.

Here's a brief description of this non-vintage wine: 

"Mumm Napa Brut Prestige is made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and a little Pinot Meunier. It’s a pale peach in colour and creamy with flavours of peach, melon and citrus. 

The wine opens with gorgeous layered white blossom aromas, followed by creamy vanilla, citrus, stone fruit and melon. Yeast aging contributes subtle aged flavours of biscuit, bread dough, white blossoms and mocha, and layers of creamy texture. It is medium-bodied, with elegant acidity, crisp structure, excellent mousse and a rich finish." 

But there are lots of other choices for more money or less.

Starting with cheaper choices that don't bite going down, I recommend from France the Veuve du Vernay - in both Blanc de Blancs Brut and Brut Rose styles for only $13.99 each at government Liquor Stores - also on sale by $1.   

This is always a solid choice for budget bubbly - in fact, we just poured some of the Brut Rose for neighbours this weekend - it's got a nice strawberry nose and is just a delightful easy drinking treat.  So is the Blanc de Blancs Brut.  And with over 10,000 bottles of the two wines available you can't fail to find it!

But what if you are intent on splurging?  You want real Champagne - which only comes from the Champagne region of France, of course.

Here's an easy choice on sale for $5 off the admittedly high price - Lanson Black Label Brut for $59.99.   Rated 89 points by the Wine Spectator, this is always a great Champagne with pear, black cherry, smoke and spice notes. There are 320 bottles in government stores around BC.

And of course, each bottle of Champagne comes with about 1 million bubbles - enough to go around!

Want to spend the maximum?  Try the Louis Roederer 2002 Crystal Brut - a mere $11,500 a bottle!  Maybe after the lottery!

How about a BC sparkling wine alternative?  Sure - try the Sumac Ridge Stellars Jay on sale for $21.99 or the See Ya Later Ranch Syl Brut on sale for $20.99.  

And you really can't go wrong with sparkling wines - any bottle over $12 is likely to do just fine - there are good Spanish cavas, Australian and other sparklers that are tasty treats.

Just be careful opening your sparking wine correctly - don't do it like race car drivers who just won the Formula One - the correct method is to hold the cork firmly and twist the bottle slowly - you get that satisfying "POP" without wasting the precious liquid on the floor!

And to impress your friends and family with your newly-found wine knowledge - there are always, always 7 twists to undo on the wire cage keeping the cork in place because of the high pressure of the bubbly wine in the bottle.  Just count them out loud when you undo the cage.

Lastly - don't aim the cork at anyone - it can travel up to 50 miles an hour and indeed can take out an eye or break the fine china in a second!

Cheers - and a very Happy New Year to all readers!  

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A wine and dine Christmas 2014 dinner - French style; and a big Rhone dinner too with 100 point Hermitage La Chapelle wine!

Christmas Dinner - all French fine wines!
We had a fabulous Christmas dinner - French style by Chef Shirley Ross and Bill Tieleman.

We started with French Chaorce cheese from the Champagne regions and pate with crackers with a lovely 2011 Drouhin-Vaudon Vaillon Chablis rated 90 points by Robert Parker; followed by gougeres with smoked Applewood cheddar made Shirley - all with Nicholas FIeullette Brut Reserve Champagne rated 91 points by the Wine Spectator; Bill's seared foie gras with a fig/eau di vie compote and a 2003 Chateau Myrat Sauterne rated 95 pts by the Wine Spectator.

Fresh gougeres

Then our main course: Shirley's lapin a la moutarde - two rabbits cooked in Dijon mustard sauce with white wine and heavy cream, accompanied by a 2009 Saint Prefert August Favier Reserve Chateauneuf-du-Pape rated 94 points by the Wine Spectator.  The lapin was served with roasted garlic mashed Yukon Gold potatoes and - what else - French green beans, along with bourbon-maple syrup roasted mashed yams.
Lapin a la moutarde

After a reasonable break to digest, we went on to a selection of Thomas Haas desserts along with the 2003 Chateau Myrat Sauterne.  For the non-French ending, and then after another period of digestion, a flight of bourbons with a super smooth Evan Williams Single Barrel, put in oak in 2004; a Col. E.H. Taylor Small Batch and a Stagg Jr Straight Cut with 60% alcohol! 

Bourbons after dinner - mmmm!
For those who worry about the amount of alcohol - fear not - small portions and vacuum sealed bottles mean overindulgence was avoided - mostly - though the amount of fat from the cream, butter, foie gras, chocolate and more was significant!  But it's Christmas dinner. 

I was also fortunate enough to have a Rhone wine dinner earlier in December - what an amazing selection of wines!

It was capped with the first 100 point wine I've ever tasted - a 1990 Paul Jaboulet Hermitage "La Chapelle" - simply marvellous.  Robert Parker raved about it and rated it at 100 - a perfect score!  

Parker: "Spectacular aromatics offer up aromas of incense, smoke, blackberry fruit, cassis, barbecue spice, coffee, and a touch of chocolate. As it sits in the glass, additional nuances of pepper and grilled steak emerge. There is extraordinary freshness for such a mammoth wine in addition to abundant tannin, an amazing 60-second finish, and a level of glycerin and thick, fleshy texture that have to be tasted to be believed." 

Amazing wine!

We started with the sole white - a Barville Chateauneuf-du-Pape from Brotte - 100% Rousanne Blanc - rated 91 by Robert Parker - if you have never tried white CNP, do yourself a favour - I hadn't until a five years ago and it's now one of my favourites!  This one was outstanding - apples, pears, almonds and more in a glass.
Our Rhone wines of the evening

We also tasted a 2006 Vieux Telegraphe "La Crau" rated 93 points by Parker; a 2005 Cote Rotie "Les Essartailles" from Le Vins de Vienne rated 86 by Parker but higher by me; a 2004 CNP from Les Closiers rated 90 by the Wine Spectator; a beautiful 2000 Chateau Beaucastel CNP rated 94 by Parker; another 2000 CNP from Domaine Grand Veneur rated 90 by Parker; and the 1990 Hermitage!  You can see them below.

The dinner was also excellent - rack of lamb as the main preceded by arancini, cheeses and crackers, and accompanied by great salads and sides.  

And then a surprise - our gracious host Jim opened a 1999 Turley Petite Syrah from Napa Valley - non-Rhone indeed - that Parker scored 97 points.  That ended the evening with a bang!   

The 100 point Hermitage!

Big Turley 1999 Petite Syrah 


Sunday, December 7, 2014

BC Liberals' Liquor 'Modernization' Will Cost You - Single Wholesale Price Plan Will Boost Retail Wine Prices

BC Liquor Stores - endangered?
Don't be fooled. This is 'unhappy hour' all over again.
Bill Tieleman's 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column 
Tuesday November 25, 2014
By Bill Tieleman
"A liquor store is where they collect taxes for the government and also sell liquor."
          - Anonymous
Consumers will pay for the B.C. government's misleading "modernization" of liquor pricing -- and more convenience will come at a hefty price.
That's definitely not the message BC Liberal Attorney General Suzanne Anton wanted you to hear last week, but higher prices for wine, beer and spirits are the inevitable result of the most sweeping liquor changes in the province in decades.
Anton said the changes will introduce a "level playing field" and let a "competitive market" flourish, when -- just like the B.C. government's earlier "happy hour"announcement that increased rather than lowered bar booze prices -- the exact opposite is true.
Consumers will pay dearly for the changes, including supermarkets selling wine, beer and spirits starting next April, while smaller liquor industry players get hurt and the big boys cash in.
Confused? That's because the BC Liberals want you mystified while behind the scenes the cutthroat liquor industry engages in a bloody war to maximize profits and reduce true competition.
And despite the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU) issuing a positive news release supporting the changes, its public liquor store members may eventually see their jobs eliminated through gradual privatization, as the new single wholesale price makes government stores less competitive.
Wholesale price change
The biggest change is to the wholesale price of liquor. All liquor stores -- the several categories of private operators, plus government outlets -- will pay one wholesale price next year.
That is a radical departure from the current system, and despite Anton's optimism, the reality is that government liquor stores will have to raise prices and private stores will follow closely behind.
Right now, the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch sets a retail price and makes its profits from a combination of markups on top of actual product costs that amounts to about 117 per cent.
Currently, there are 196 government liquor stores, 670 private liquor stores, 221 rural agency stores and 12 independent wine stores.
The private stores buy their products at three different discounts from the distribution branch: 30 per cent less for independent wine stores (wine only), 16 per cent for licensee retail stores (cold beer, wine and spirits), and 12 per cent for rural agency stores (all products). Those discounts are what allow the stores to cover their costs and make a profit.
But next year, all that goes out the window for a single wholesale price.
Mark Hicken, a lawyer who specializes in liquor issues, has posted an analysis on his website that identifies who wins and loses based on the limited information released by government, and you won't find consumers in the winner column.
Hicken writes that, at least when it comes to wine, licensee retail stores and rural agency stores will be better off with the new wholesale price, while independent wine stores will be much worse off and government stores will face significant challenges -- though they will be allowed to open Sundays and sell cold beer and wine for the first time.
'Taking away our competitive advantage'
John Clerides, owner of Vancouver's independent Marquis Wine Cellars, believes consumers will pay more.
"I think the price goes up," Clerides said in an interview Sunday. "It's going to take some time to sort out."
But Clerides already knows his independent wine store -- one of 12 -- and its customers will be losers because their 30 per cent discount from the government price disappears, while his competitors who can sell beer and spirits will now buy wine at the same price.
"The independent stores are screwed because we don't have any additional products -- beer and spirits -- and we can't sell to restaurants, so we're at a competitive disadvantage," Clerides said.
Independent wine stores had argued if the private licensee retail stores were to get the same wholesale price for wine, the wine stores should in return be allowed to sell beer and spirits as compensation to make up for lost business. But the government did not agree.
The umbrella organization for cold beer and wine licensee retail stores is not happy either, but primarily about allowing government stores to compete on Sundays and with refrigerated products.
"From a business perspective, we're very disappointed in this," Jeff Guignard, executive director with the Alliance of Beverage Licensees B.C., told the Province newspaper.
"A lot of retailers have invested millions of dollars (to install refrigeration). It would cost tens of thousands of government taxpayer funds to give consumers something they already have. They're taking away our competitive advantage... and they're keeping the playing field tilted in their favour," Guignard said.
Public stores need to pump sales
Indeed, the BCGEU is surprisingly upbeat about the announcement, "applauding" the changes and saying unionized government stores now "can compete with private stores."
The union does, however, warn that the single wholesale price will only be in the public interest if the province's $1-billion revenue stream from liquor is protected.
"These are important changes that we have been recommending for many years and are long overdue," BCGEU president Stephanie Smith said.
"These changes will offer increased convenience for shoppers and make the public stores even more competitive. With almost 200 outlets, larger stores, greater selection and knowledgeable staff, public liquor stores can compete with private stores."
I am more skeptical. With a reduced markup and significantly higher labour costs, government stores will need to pump up the volume of sales to compete when private stores pay a lower wholesale price.
Smaller government stores with lower sales will likely be targeted for closure or sale to the private sector in the long term. And the unionized workforce with higher wages, benefits and pensions will be under enormous pressure to reduce costs to the level of the non-union competition.
'Level' playing field?
Anton, of course, is elated with the changes, stating in a news release that: "Underpinning many of our liquor changes -- including our models for liquor in grocery stores and wholesale pricing -- is the concept that government needs to get out of the way and leave more to market forces.
"It is our expectation that, starting April 2015, these changes will create a more competitive market for retailers. The changes we're making to the wholesale price today will enable more competition between retailers to attract British Columbians into their stores and should not force any change in shelf prices."
But Clerides is scathing about how the government controls all aspects of the liquor industry.
"What is ‘level' about what they've done?" Clerides asks. "The regulator, the wholesaler and the retailer -- the Liquor Distribution Branch -- are making the rules under which you're competing!"
Wine, beer and spirits in more stores, and none of it cheaper than today. Welcome to liquor modernization, BC Liberal style.

UPDATE:  Since my column came out, John Clerides and Mark Hicken have been featured in The Vancouver Sun and Global TV BC reports with additional information about the wholesale price forcing wine prices to rise dramatically, particularly on wines currently retailing for $20 or more.

And a depressing new analysis by Just Grapes that recently came out shows 25% to 50% increase in retail prices for $20 and higher wine prices is likely with the BC liquor law changes.



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Wine Spectator 2014 Top 100 Wines available in British Columbia - including one under $18

Run, don't walk, to your local government liquor store - because if you hurry you can still grab a few bottles of one the Wine Spectator magazine's 2014 Top 100 Wines - for under $18!

It's the fabulous Clancy's 2011 by Peter Lehmann of Australia - a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz that retails for $17.99 right now - on sale for $2 off the regular price till January 3, 2015 - and there are over 2,500 bottles still available across the province at  BC LDB stores

The Wine Spectator rates this a 90 point wine and ranks it at #59 of the Top 100.

"Pure blueberry and plum fruit" they say - and why disagree?

More importantly, why not go and buy some while you still can - it's an excellent value and at that price, you simply cannot go wrong!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Think Pink: summer's still here and there's still time to drink great rose wines!

Miraval - from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to you!
Rose is the quintessential wine of summer to me - and million of other drinkers around the globe!

Did you know that a shocking one-third of all wine sold in France today is rose?  Amazing.

Fortunately for us, the French are happy to export some of their best rose wines - as are the Spanish - and BC makes some darn fine ones too.

A personal favourite is better know for its owners than its name - Miraval from Provence in southern France.

The owners are a new couple trying their hand at wine: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie!  

And if you don't think life is unfair, their very first vintage in 2012 was one of the Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines of last year, scoring 90 points!  Of course, it helps that they partnered with the great Perrin family of winemakers who bring centuries of experience to the vineyard.

Miraval's current 2013 vintage is scored 90 by Robert Parker and 89 by the Wine Spectator and - time to rush - it is still available in BC Liquor Stores, with 169 bottles available across BC at $28.99 - not cheap but hey, it's movie star wine!  [I should note that your friendly local liquor store can usually bring bottles in for you at no charge if not available.]

This rose is simply delicious - strawberry notes, a touch of rose petals and goes with just about anything - salmon, appetizers, chicken - you name it.  

A second personal favourite is Domaine Lafond's Roc Epine 2013 rose from Tavel in Provence.

Domaine Lafond
A deeper darker rose than the Miraval and done in a different style, this is the wine that changed my mind about rose wines some years ago.

Loads of cherry fruit and lots of flavour - just a beautiful wine. Robert Parker rates this at 91 points while the Wine Spectator scores it 89.

There are 271 bottles available in BC Liquor Stores for $24.99.  As you can see from the prices, these are serious bottles and not the Mateus we all drank in high school in the funny bottle!

Another great choice at a more modest price is Muga 2013 rose from Spain.

A lighter style than the Tavel but very lovely and at $17.99 a little more affordable. No ratings on this vintage but past years have always scored int he high 80s.

There are 349 bottles available across BC.  
Muga Rose from Spain

Last but not least - British Columbia's own Joie makes a fabulous rose wine in Naramata and the 2013 is an excellent choice at $20.93.  There are 1200 bottles in BC Liquor Stores across the province. 

Joie makes it in a full bodied style with lots of berry fruit.  It's made with 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Gamay, which give it both strawberry and black cherry flavours - delicious.

So Think Pink as we approach the end of summer - and open a rose this weekend!
BC's own Joie 2013 Rose from Naramata


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Celebrate World Malbec Day - Thursday April 17 - with a glass of Malbec from Argentina or France or Canada or the United States or…...

Malbec heaven!  A Top 100 Wine Spectator wine, scored at 90 points and available in BC for just $19.99!

Happy World Malbec Day!  

It's April 17th each year and wine lovers celebrate one of the most accessible, enjoyable and simply drinkable grape varietals you can wine on the planet!

I love Malbec for all those reasons and one more - it is one of the great values in wine, providing a lot of delicious taste for often the most modest expenditure.

Here in British Columbia we have available a huge variety of Malbecs - according to the Vancouver Sun's excellent wine columnist Anthony Gismondi there are dozens of Malbec and Malbec blends in government and private liquor stores at a wide range of prices.

And you can celebrate World Malbec Day Wednesday April 17th at BC Liquor Stores events or just by purchasing a bottle to go with dinner.  

So here are just a few personal favourites that you can easily find: 

Norton Malbec Reserva 2010 - a Wine Spectator Top 100 Wine of 2012, with a 90 point score and for sale for just $19.99 in BC Liquor Stores!  

And there are over 1,000 bottles across BC - so no excuse to not celebrate World Malbec Day with this bottle from Argentina for dinner.  Full of berry, plum and smoky flavours, it would go great with a steak or pasta or sausages or just about anything.
Big, bold Bramare Malbec by Vina Cobos

Want to live large with the Easter weekend upon us?  Then spend a big $44.99 and you won't regret buying the 2011 Vina Cobos Bramare Valle de Uco Malbec.  This is a massive but complex Argentina Malbec that I first tried at the Vancouver International Wine Festival and was blown away by how great it was.

Raspberry, blueberry, spice and herb - this has it all and layers of complexity.  It was simply one of the best values at the Wine Festival and easily outperformed much more expensive wines being poured there. There are over 300 bottles available across BC. 

Last but far from least, try Catena's always wonderful Malbec from Argentina also - currently on sale for $20.99, marked down $2 by BC Liquor Stores till May 3, with a massive 3,200 plus bottles available.

It's scored 91 point by the Wine Spectator -and I tried it tonight and loved as usual.  Lots of bright jammy red berry fruit, a bit of smoke and espresso.

Delicious Catena 2011 Malbec
But whatever you decide - you can't go wrong with Malbec!

Pick one up whether from the Cahors region in France or Argentina and Happy World Malbec Day!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Two "must buy" reasonably-priced red wines - Concha y Toro Casa Concha 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and Chateau Maison Blanche 2009 Medoc Bordeaux!

Casa Concha 2011 and Maison Blanche 2009 killer wines
Every now and again a stunningly good wine shows up in British Columbia liquor stores at a price that makes you happy!

So prepare to smile when you buy and taste not one but two excellent red wines!

Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and Chateau Maison Blanche 2009 Medoc Bordeaux are simply great wines at reasonably affordable prices - both less than $30.  

Concha y Toro's Casa Concha series is always awesome - it has consistently won 90 points + scores from the Wine Spectator and other reviewers year after year and is one of my favourite wines because it retails for under $25.

But this year's Casa Concha 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon is remarkable - and earned it a 93 point score - while it is reasonably priced in BC government liquor stores at $22.99 and has been on sale at times for $20.99. Amazingly, the U.S. list price is $26 in their dollars.

This cabernet is big, smoky, chocolaty and spicy - lots of blackberry fruit and intense concentration.  The Spectator recommends waiting till 2015 to 2022 to drink this one but there is simply no way I am waiting another year - quaff it now with a steak or red meat cut or just enjoy this big wine.  But I will age some for sure.

You simply cannot touch this kind of wine for value at that price!  Fortunately there are over 1,400 bottles in the BC system.

I also love the Chateau Maison Blanche 2009 Medoc from Bordeaux - a 91 point Wine Spectator scored bottle that is available at BC government liquor stores for $28.99.  They have nearly 700 bottles across BC.

It is a Medoc Cru Bourgeois red wine - don't let the "Blanche" fool you - from the excellent 2009 vintage that allowed the Bordelais wineries to charge extortionate rates for their products - but this is a very reasonable price for such a lovely wine.

The blend is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and it has all the terroir taste you expect from a fine Bordeaux wine - but without the $100 or $200 or $2,000 price tag.

Yummy raspberry and blackberry fruit in this one and it is drinking very well now but will likely get even better for up to five years.

But don't wait long to pick these two wines up - they won't last on the shelves at this price!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Get Ready for Hard-to-Swallow Higher Booze Prices in BC Supermarkets - Easier To Buy, Not Cheaper

Going into the red - BC price $17.95, $15.95 in Ontario and $11.10 in Chicago!
BC Liberals' changes will simply increase total sales by making it easier to buy, not cheaper.

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

Tuesday March 18, 2014

By Bill Tieleman

There are only two real ways to get ahead today -- sell liquor or drink it."
- W.C. Fields, comedian, 1880-1946
Beer, wine and spirits are coming to British Columbia supermarkets next year, but don't expect cheaper booze -- if anything, what is already among North America's highest-priced alcohol will only get more expensive.
Consumers say they would love the convenience of supermarket sales, but that thrill may be gone when prices stay the same or likely go higher than in B.C. government liquor stores.
The reality of BC Liberal changes is to make booze easier to access, but prices harder to swallow.
So forget about B.C. becoming like Washington State or Europe, with giant supermarket chains offering deep discounts on your favourite beverage.
The government's real goal is simply to increase total sales by making it easier to buy, not cheaper.
The only way most prices could actually drop is if government reduced its $1-billion annual booze profits -- and that ain't gonna happen.
And since most B.C. private liquor stores already charge $2, $3 or much more per bottle of wine, spirits or a case of beer than government rates, without a wholesale price drop retail prices will stay sky high.
In fact, there is nothing in the B.C. liquor review that gives even faint hope to thirsty drinkers of any cut to the high cost of quaffing.
Booze costs already too damn high
There are two models for sales in grocery stores. The main one is called a "store within a store," where supermarkets will have a liquor sales area separated from grocery products and minors.
In addition, some B.C. VQA-certified wines will be made available at some point directly on grocery store shelves without the separate store model, though details aren't yet clear.
When this column did a price comparison of wine and beer prices in 2012, the gap between B.C. prices and other jurisdictions was stunning.
And it still is.
One example: the widely distributed Perrin Cote Du Rhone Reserve red wine sells for $17.95 a bottle in B.C. Liquor Stores, but $16.50 in Quebec government liquor stores, $15.95 in Ontario, only $13 in a private Alberta store if you buy a case of 12, and just $11.10 Canadian at Binny's in Chicago -- or $10.54 a bottle if you buy a case!

By the way, this wine is rated 88 points by Robert Parker and 86 points by the Wine Spectator - a good value.
And while occasionally a B.C. bottle can be had cheaper, overall any online search will find wine, beer and spirits here are very pricey in both public and private stores.
So, government "modernizes" liquor laws, booze arrives in grocery stores, and yet the prices will only go up, not down.
Drink that irony in.



Friday, February 28, 2014

Wine Barbarian UPDATED top picks for Vancouver International Wine Festival SATURDAY


Amazing number of fantastic wines available for tastings Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night at the Vancouver International Wine Festival's Acura tasting room.

Okay - being an independent wine blogger with a day job makes tasting wines and making recommendation in a hurry a lot harder!  
Bill Tieleman - The Wine Barbarian on site

But I have done my best to personally taste a lot of wines Thursday afternoon and evening to give you some guaranteed picks to try if you are attending sessions Friday and Saturday!

None of which is to say I haven't missed other fabulous wines - I know I have, dammit!  And I'm trying to get to them today and tomorrow - so feel free to let me know your winners and I'll attempt to add to the list.  

And follow me on Twitter for ongoing tips @BillTieleman today and Saturday!  And check #VIWF for other Tweets from wine experts and consumers on what to try and buy.

However these wines were all wonderful and you will not be disappointed with them.

These wines are in no particular order and I only took a few photos on the iPhone 5 but picture or not, try them!

One cautionary note however - to my continual chagrin, the BC Liquor Stores on site store allows customers to clean out the limited supply of some rare and never to be seen again in BC wines brought in by participating wineries.  

That includes letting Trade Show visitors from the food and beverage industry and media buy them up before regular consumers even taste the wines.  And that leaves a bad taste in consumers' mouths after they've just tried a fantastic wine and want to bring home a bottle!  So then you see this sign - which I photographed Thursday at 5 p.m. after the Trade Show ended: 

BC Liquor Store at Wine Festival - sold out bottles before consumers even arrive!
There are several factors - importing rules etc., - but if necessary, the BC LDB should put quotas on bottle sales to give consumers a chance to buy them - and better still, find a way to put more on the shelf!  So please don't blame the wineries, the Wine Festival, the hard-working BC Liquor Store staff on site - not their fault.  

Here's the picks I recommend but try others at their tables and from other wineries too:

Boisset Puligny-Montrachet Le Trezin 2011 

TRÉZIN 2011 
Fabulous white from Burgundy - simply outstanding!  $70.

Next door is another fantastic white to compare it with, from: ROUX PÈRE & FILS | BOURGOGNE, FRANCE

CRU “LES CORTONS” WHITE 2012 MONOPOLE 2012 - This is a beautiful Meursault at $113 so don't miss it!
Roux Pere Chambolle-Musigny 2010

Also great are their other Burgundies but especially: CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY 1 CRU “LES BORNIQUES” 2010 - what an awesome expression of a great wine region!  

Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne

Of course, Champagne and bubbly are the focus this year and what better Champagne to try to start than the GRAND SIÈCLE NV  from  LAURENT-PERRIER | CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE - a fantastic bottle and, regrettably, $199 for each one.  But what a treat to try.  

And there is an amazing selection of other fabulous Champagnes, cremants and more!

Moving over to the Rhone Valley of France, don't miss DOMAINE DE LA SOLITUDE and their stellar selection, including a killer white CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE CUVÉE BARBERINI BLANC that will stun you if you haven't tried whites from CNP before and make you fall in love again if you have!  At $90.  

But also try all to their other fantastic CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE reds - simply outstanding wines!

Also in Rhone - don't miss the wines of Romain Duvernay, especially their CÔTE RÔTIE ROMAIN DUVERNAY 2009 at $64 and their VACQUEYRAS ROMAIN DUVERNAY 2011 at $29 - the latter one of the bargains of the Festival.

Please don't miss one of my constant favourites - FAMILLE PERRIN | RHÔNE, FRANCE
and their killer CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE Chateau Beaucastel red and white.  I was fortunate enough to attend the Beaucastel dinner at Bistro Pastis but you can taste both the wonderful CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE ROUGE 2011 and the amazing CHÂTEAU DE BEAUCASTEL CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE BLANC 2012 at their table - both at $92.

Lastly from the Loire Valley in France, fabulous Sauvignon Blancs from DOMAINE JOSEPH MELLOT - including outstanding Sancerre bottles at two different ascending levels of complexity and cost: SANCERRE JOSEPH MELLOT LA CHATELLENIE 2012 at $30 and SANCERRE JOSEPH MELLOT LA GRANDE CHATELAINE
2010 at $45.  I also tasted a 2009 Cuvee Pierre Etienne Sancerre at the Trade Tasting that was unbelievable! 

Outside of France - which has the most wineries of the Festival - there are other fantastic wines.  Space and time limit me to a quick list not to miss: 

VIÑA COBOS | MENDOZA, ARGENTINA - two stunning Malbecs - BRAMARE LUJAN DE CUYO MALBEC 2010 at $45 and the VALLE DE UCO MALBEC 2011 at $48.

From Australia INLAND TRADING CO. | BAROSSA VALLEY, AUSTRALIA - don't miss the GREENOCK CREEK ALICES BLOCK SHIRAZ 2010 - big, bold and fruity at $63.  And try the CHARLES CIMICKY “ST. C” SHIRAZ / CABERNET 2010 at only $30 - a bargain.
From Chile LAPOSTOLLE | COLCHAGUA VALLEY, CHILE - the Clos Apalta is one of the world's great wines at $125 for the 2010 vintage. Also great value CUVÉE ALEXANDRE MERLOT 2012 at $30.

And next door is SANTA RITA | MAIPO VALLEY, CHILE - where I loved both the TRIPLE C 2008 at $39 and the very opulent PEHUEN CARMENERE 2007 at $70 - simply delicious and I adore Carmenere!

Lastly and only due to time constraints, don't miss the always outstanding CHARLES SMITH WINES / K VINTNERS | COLUMBIA VALLEY, UNITED STATES - where I have been fortunate to visit.  Charles is a rock star in wine and you can see why with his K VINTNERS MOTOR CITY KITTY SYRAH 2011 at $50 - shows what Washington State can do with Syrah - and Charles makes even bigger and bolder Syrahs and blends as well.


On Friday I worked hard to try yet more wines and here are some recommendations for Saturday night - to buy if you can afterwards:

New Zealand is always a big favourite of mine and nice to see the genial Jim Robertson - Global Brand Ambassador - at the Festival again.  

STONELEIGH | MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND - all good value but really loving the $24 LATITUDE PINOT NOIR 2012

Next door don't miss NAUTILUS ESTATE | MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND and their great PINOT NOIR 2011 at $40 - it has been selling out every day a the onsite store.

I have neglected Italy a bit - which is tragic - because there are some beautiful wines here this year.  Will try to make up for that but did love the CASTIGLION DEL BOSCO | TUSCANY, ITALY and their killer CAMPO DEL DRAGO BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2008 at $90 as well as their BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2009 at $60.
Campo Del Drago

Next door at DAMILANO | PIEDMONT, ITALY you can find a wonderful pair of Barolos - BAROLO “LECINQUEVIGNE” DOCG 2008 at $50 and the superb, huge BAROLO LISTE DOCG 2007 at $100.
 One last trip back to France - go to CHÂTEAU DE LA GARDINE | RHÔNE, FRANCE
where you will meeting the charming Marion Barral and be sure to try the wonderful CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE CUVÉE DES GENERATIONS MARIE LEONCIE 2011
 - a white full of fragrant tropical fruit at $85.  And of course their great CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE CUVÉE TRADITION RED 2011 at $58. 

There are so many other great wines at the Festival and so little time - hope to see you there and if possible I will update this list as I taste more today!   Also follow me on Twitter for tips @BillTieleman - and cheers!