Bordeaux

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Wine 4 Me 55 posts

Mr. Lawrason has written a fine piece in his latest blog on Bordeaux’s status in the world of wine. While I agree with most of David’s “rants”, I think that he went a bit easy on Vintages. Since the ‘95 vintage, red Bordeaux has been grossly overpriced at Vintages and this remains the case today. For example, a few of the 2008’s being released this weekend can be found for much less in the US:
Lacoste Borie: $39.95 at Vintages, $25.34 at Saratoga Wine Exchange (NY State)
Fombrauge: $45.00 at Vintages, $29.94 at Bottles and Case (NY state)
Haut Bergey: $44.95 at Vintages, $28.77 at Bottles and Case (NY State)
Meyney : $47.95 at Vintages, $28.95 Wineclicker (New Jersey)
I suspect that even lower prices will be had down the road as the 2009’s come onto the shelves. For example, for the 2006 vintage I was able to purchase classifed gowths after they had been on shelves for some time in the US for about half the Vintages asking price.
I have two points here: First, that Bordeaux is not nearly as expensive in the free market for wine as it is in Ontario, making these wines much better (if still not great) values; Second, we are being ripped off for red Bordeaux by our wine monopoly and I have never been able to get a reasonable answer from Vintages as to why.
I hope to hear from others – perhaps Mr. Lawrason has some insight into this.
Norm

 
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David Lawrason 3 posts

Norm – I have heard similar charges from others over the years that Vintages is aggressive in terms of its Bordeaux pricing but I am not contantly in tune enough with pricing in other provinces or American states to be able to state this definitely. It may sound like I am waffling, but I just don’t know at this point. Are we higher than the States, undoubtedly! But more so for Bordeaux in particular, I am not so certain. If any others can offer proof or personal experience please weigh in. David

 
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Dan Trcka 21 posts

Hi Norm.
I have two comments, one on Mr. Lawrason’s posting and one on yours.

I was very happy to see Mr. Lawrason’s posting, as I always thought of French wines to be overpriced and overhyped, but I didn’t know the historical reason behind, nor the extent of the “luxury tax” (courtesy of the LCBO). It was satisfying to read this article because I have been having this dispute with my friend and it is good to see an expert to say it like it is that coincides with what I have been saying.

To comment on your thoughts. Recently, I went to Spain and as I am very familiar with Spanish wines, I was keenly looking around at prices and comparing them with LCBO’s. I noticed that majority of wines sold here under $20, were of similar cost in Spain if you consider Euro conversion and the shipping costs. However, more expensive wines, especially from the privileged Priorat region, are generally 150% to 200% more expensive here than there, which aligns with what you describe. The question is, what can we do about it?

Dan

 
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Wine 4 Me 55 posts

Dan, what can we do about it? Very little, I’m afraid. A monopoly, espeically one that is government-run, is tough to do anything about by definition. I wouldn’t waste my time contacting my local MPP. I suppose that I am lucky that I live close to the US border and travel to the US a few times per year. I can usually pick up great wines there for less than here or purchase wines that are simply not available in Canada. The duty-free limit resticts me to 4 bottles per 48 hr vist (between my wife and I) – if it was unlimited, I’d have to rent a truck every time I go!

But Dan, I disagree with you that all French wine is overpriced and overhyped. Bordeaux, yes, Burgundy I have long since given up on. But there are so many other regions to explore. For example, the south of France (Languedoc, Rousillion, and I’ll include the entire south Rhone) produces fabulous wines that are not that expensive (even at Vintages!),

 
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Dan Trcka 21 posts

Hi Norm
I do agree that the not-so-hot regions in France can deliver quality wines in what we consider reasonable price, however I do have to stand my ground, as I often discuss with my French colleague (who knows his wine) that wines we pay ~$15 for are sold for around or under €5. As an example, I will use Beaujolais: most of the wines sold here for just over $10 would be sold for much less in France €2-5. Recently I had $19 Beaujolais, which again would not be sold for more than €5, from what my colleague tells me. I do have few wines namely from the Roussillon region in my cellar that I think of as exceptional or unique and for ‘reasonable’ price (my conditioned belief).

As both of us know, wines in Europe are lot cheaper there than here, if you don’t consider the ones sold at the LCBO. This leads me to believe that any particular wine/winery that has dealings with the LCBO adjust their prices in their respective regions to reflect the prices here. This may partially explain what I was talking about earlier and implies the LCBO having far reaching effect.

As far as what we can do about lowering the prices of our beloved monopoly, we are doing it just now, right here. I am writing a piece that I don’t want to discuss quite yet, but will link from here once it is published.

Dan

PS: good job on getting Mr. Lawrason to participate :-)