Our story so far (with apologies to Mario Puzo) :
In the office of Chairman Wynne (Premier of the People’s Republic of Ontario and for this story she will also be known as the Godmother), the Godmother, her consigliere, and Finance Minister Charles Sousa are discussing control over all things vice in the republic.
Charlie: Why did you ask me if something was wrong when I came in?
The Godmother: I can sense that something is troubling you. I thought you were going to tell me that you had something to get off your conscience.
Charlie: It’s our plan to use the LCBO to distribute cannabis. It troubles me.
The Godmother: With the LCBO we got control of the booze supply, with the Ontario Lottery Corporation we got control over gambling, and Pretty Boy Trudeau in Ottawa came through for us. Thanks to him, we now take control over drugs. What’s your problem Charile?
Charlie: How do we explain this to the people?
The Godmother: Christ Charlie, that’s easy. When it comes to wine, we tell ‘em that the LCBO is there to protect people and they buy that bull shit. We tell ‘em they need protection. We tell ‘em that we have to keep their babies from getting bad weed just like we tell ’em that we have to protect their babies from bad wine.
Charlie: But people are smoking weed now. No one is dying from bad weed. People are dying from opioids, not weed.
The Godmother: Come on Charlie. If Pretty Boy has taught us something it’s that we don’t have to do anything. We just have to say that we’ll do something. We tell ‘em it’s for their own good. We just have to say it.
Charlie: How do we shut down the existing weed dispensaries? There are hundreds in Toronto alone.
The Godmother: The coppers Charlie. The coppers work for us remember? We tell our boys and girls in blue to shut ‘em down. They have to do it Charlie. They are on our payroll. These mom-and-pop places are going down. It’s easy and we tell ‘em that it’s for their own protection. Work with me. Let’s talk business, okay?
Charlie: Let’s talk business.
The Godmother: We’ve now got control of the booze, gambling, and drugs. Right? We need control over the boards, the tricks, the rubs and the tugs, the strippers too.
Charlie: Pretty Boy Trudeau will never give us control over prostitution. It’s impossible.
Consigliere: Difficult but not impossible. Pretty Boy is one of us. We’ll need to give him a cut but he’ll cooperate. He’s part of the family.
The Godmother: Difficult but not impossible. You see Charlie, give Pretty Boy a call. Start working on it. I want the hookers working for me. Make it happen.
[Charles leaves the room]
The Godmother: Charlie is a problem.
Consigliere: Don’t worry Godmother. Tonight Charlie sleeps with the fishes.
My how times have changed. And, just when you thought we had enough government in the economy (the Macdonald-Laurier Institute estimates that government in Canada is about 64% of our GDP) we now know that we will get more. We are ⅓ of our GDP away from truly being a People’s Republic.
Joking aside, if you want to read a serious article on the connection between Ontario’s planned cannabis distribution system and the KGBO (a.k.a., the LCBO) I’d recommend reading Chris Selley’s excellent article (Ontarians got the marijuana retail system they deserve).
Onto something wine…If you are concerned about high levels of alcohol in wine then I think you will appreciate reading this article from Decanter magazine.
And, onto specifics on the September 16 Vintage release…
The $60 Duval Leroy Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut Champagne 2006 —VINTAGES#: 482828 is your opportunity to acquire a vintage Champagne at the price of most entry non-vintage Champagnes. There is a lot going on in this wine with brioche on the nose, and citrus, pear and apple on the palate. It is delicious. I highly recommend decanting this wine before serving as that air time will brighten your experience. The normal retail price for this wine in the good old USA is $80USD. Stock up.
The $18 Domaine Lafage Cuvée Centenaire 2016 Grenache Blanc Blend —VINTAGES#: 343491 is an outstanding white wine that you can actually buy (that is, there are many bottles available in the KGBO’s system). Tropical fruit, balanced, long finish and an unctuous (oily) mouth feel. Good stuff.
The $19 Thörle Estate Dry Riesling 2015 —VINTAGES#: 445817 is really good white wine that, unless you can access the three stores in the Republic that have inventory, you cannot buy. Great minerality and fruit on this wine. It would age nicely and develop more character. I really appreciate the low 12.5% level of alcohol. It is available at one store in Toronto, one in Ottawa and one in Oakville. Buy some if you are able.
The $40 Beni di Batasiolo Riserva Barolo 2007 —VINTAGES#: 330704 is a good wine and is good value. Similar vintages (not specifically the 2007) retail for $50USD in the Excited States of America. With this wine you are buying, in the People’s Republic, a 10 year old Barolo that has complexity and is yummy for the same price as our friends in Italy pay. For people that don’t have access to a cellar containing aged Barolo here’s you opportunity for that tasting experience. At dinner last night, this wine held its own against two other (& much more expensive) Nebbiolos and went really well with the Italian food we enjoyed at the restaurant.
Wines to consider
Not willing to part with $60 for the Duval Leroy then consider the $20 Graham Beck Brut Pinot Noir/Chardonnay Sparkling —VINTAGES#: 593483 or the $22 Cave de Lugny Cuvée Millésime Brut Crémant de Bourgogne 2013 —VINTAGES#: 183764. The style of the Beck is drier than the Lugny. The Beck is more mineral forward with citrus and white fruit flavors where the Lugny is more fruit forward and richer in style.
Can’t afford or cannot find the $40 Beni di Batasiolo? Then consider the $23.50 Castello di Neive Barbaresco DOCG Nebbiolo —LCBO#: 160143. This is a general-list wine, which means that you will not find it in the Vintages section of your KGBO store. It will be shelved in the main section of the store and is also available for home delivery. The tasting group bought this wine to contrast it to the other Nebbiolo based wines in the Vintages release. It could use a couple of years of age in the bottle but if you decant this wine an hour before serving you will be pleased with the contents of your glass. This wine retails for $30USD in the Excited States so you could expect (after exchange and LCBO markup) to pay as much as $60CAD in the Republic.
The $20 Yaso Tinta de Toro 2012 Tempranillo —VINTAGES#: 377499 is a balanced and interesting wine with nice structure and good fruit. It’s a good food wine and a good choice as your house wine.
Wines to avoid
Despite the favorable reviews from the local wine critics I would avoid the $20 Bernard-Massard Brut Cuvée de L’Écusson —VINTAGES#: 970970. The wine comes across as sweet and simple. Your frat-house-party days are behind you.
The $22 Louis Max Beaucharme Chardonnay Bourgogne 2014 —VINTAGES#: 492900 had a muted nose and was a pretty simple wine. There are better choices.
I would buy the$34 Adriano Marco e Vittorio Sanadaive Barbaresco 2013 Nebbiolo —VINTAGES#: 497909 only if I planned to cellar it for five or more years. The wine needs to come together and the tannins need to settle down. You could decant this wine for several hours and serve it with fat-rich foods to tame things but I would spend the extra $6 and buy the Beni di Batasiolo or save $10 and buy the Castello di Neive.