Our story so far
The date is April 19, 2018. The scene is the private chambers of Richard Wagner, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Justice Wagner has asked to speak privately with Gerard Comeau.
In case you do not recognize the name, Mr. Comeau is the man that committed the “heinous” crime of transporting 14 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor across the provincial border between Quebec and New Brunswick. You see, in the People’s Republic of Canada (and only in this country) laws prevent transportation of alcohol across provincial borders. There is no doubt that Mr. Comeau broke the law of the land. Equally, there is no doubt that he believes that law is wrong, unjust, and even unconstitutional.
The citizens of the People’s Republic of Canada view this retired grandfather as a hero. For lovers of beer and wine, his fight against an unjust law represents hope. By challenging his conviction and the fine of $292.50 all the way to the Supreme Court our hero may free the proletariat from the repression they have experienced since 1921. That was the year that saw the end of prohibition and the creation of provincial government monopolies designed to heavily tax and control the distribution of alcohol products. Yes, the liquor control boards in this country were created that long ago and they were created because the government believed your consumption of alcohol must be under its control. Does this sound familiar?
A ruling that is favorable to Mr. Comeau gives Canadians a shot at being treated fairly, at having a choice, and perhaps putting an end to the feeling that they are being treated like children. How can this man not be our hero?
Mr. Comeau, is it okay to call you Gerald?
I’d prefer that your honor. May I also call you Richard?
That would be fine. Gerald, it’s unusual for a Justice to chat with the accused before announcing the court’s decision but, by all accounts, I hear that you are a very nice man. I wanted to make an exception in your case.
Thank you Richard…I hope you asked me here to tell me good news.
I’m sorry Gerald but I’m afraid that I have bad news for you. You challenged your conviction on the basis that New Brunswick’s law was unconstitutional, specifically that the constitution provides for free trade between the provinces. The court will not be ruling in your favor on this matter.
I’m confused Richard the words in the constitution seem clear to me. How can the Justices see the matter differently?
Well Gerald, we feel that New Brunswick has the constitutional right to restrict trade across provincial boundaries when their purpose of doing so is to enable supervision of the production, movement, sale and use of alcohol.
What does that even mean?
Gerald, your government has that law to protect you and, under the constitution, New Brunswick has the right to do that.
Help me out Richard, what is the law protecting me from?
Let me try an example. Let’s say that the beer sold in Quebec has more carbonation than the beer sold in New Brunswick. Yes, I’ll run with that example, let’s say that Quebecers prefer their beer with more carbonation than New Brunswickers are used to. So, if the province of New Brunswick doesn’t prevent its citizens from consuming overly carbonated beer from Quebec then all sorts of bad things could happen.
Well, all that carbonation could cause abdominal pain and cramps. The province’s emergency rooms could be flooded and overwhelmed with beer drinkers seeing treatment. Then there’s the fact that all that gas needs to go somewhere. It has to somehow leave the human body and I can think of only two ways that happens in nature.
Richard, are you trying to tell me that you think that the province of New Brunswick is trying to protect me from flatulence?
Yes to protect you and your marriage too Gerald. Everyone knows that excessive flatulence causes divorce. The province of New Brunswick also wants to protect beer drinkers from divorce.
I made a big mistake Richard.
By buying beer in Quebec instead of New Brunswick?
No. By not asking permission to call you Dick.
April 19 was a sad day for Canadians. Even if Gerald, our David, didn’t slay the Goliath that is our over controlling government he is still a hero in my books. It would be an honor to visit Tracadie and buy this man a beer. I’d even buy him the overpriced New Brunswick version if that choice was his preference.
Onto the wines from the April 28 Vintages release. Don’t forget that you can save time by ordering online and picking up your selections at your local store.
There are many good wines in this release. The theme of this release was “Pacific Northwest” yet the tasting group did not focus their dollars on wines from this region. The pattern of the wines that interest us in a release having little to do with the selected theme is a familiar one.
Wines made by a cooperative are hit and miss. Fortunately, the $24 Vignerons de Buxy Buissonnier Montagny 1er Cru 2016 Chardonnay—VINTAGES#: 556084 falls into the former classification. The posted tasting notes are accurate. The wine has nice acidity and length. This wine retails for the equivalent of $15-$20CAD plus taxes in France. A good value Burgundy and an enjoyable white wine.
I cannot say enough nice things about the $25 Château-Thébaud Melon de Bourgogne 2012 Melon de Bourgogne—VINTAGES#: 541458. Wine made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape typically sells for less than $20, rarely have I found one in the People’s Republic of Ontario that is aged, and the flavor profile usually tends towards honeydew melon characteristics. The Thébaud breaks all these stereotypes. This is an aged mineral-driven wine with nice complexity. Read the tasting notes (they are pretty accurate) and if you like what you read rush to get several bottles. I expect that this wine will sell out quickly. This wine retails in the good-old USA for the equivalent of $20CAD plus sale taxes.
Wine for Wine Geeks
If you wandered down the Italian white wine aisle of the KGBO (a.k.a., the LCBO) and made note of the prices for a Soave Classico wine, you may conclude that $15 is the typical price for a decent bottle. So who would pay $40 for the Pieropan La Rocca Soave Classico 2015 Garganega—VINTAGES#: 92437? A wine geek that’s who. This wine is a chameleon. For us, it started the journey with bruised apple, preserved lemon and slate minerals and then changed to stone fruit and ginger. This is a wine that you sip slowly with friends as drinking this wine is an experience that you will wish to share. Don’t decant this wine. Instead, let it develop in your glass. This wine retails for $30CAD plus VAT in Europe.
Fans of Bordeaux blends that are looking for an aged bottle to impress their friends should consider the $62 Château Musar Red 2006 Cinsault—VINTAGES#: 109413. This is a well made, well-balanced wine that, if served blind, would cause most people to conclude that are drinking an aged Bordeaux. It’s ready now but also cellar worthy. In Europe, this wine retails for about $40 plus VAT so the price here is rich.
Do you like to piss off and impress your wine geek friends? If so, try to source the $73 Weingut Franz Keller GG Schlossberg Grauburgunder 2014 Pinot Gris—VINTAGES#: 536680. Serve this wine blind and give an award to anyone that can identify that this wine is a Pinot Gris from Germany. It’s a well-made wine but the $73 price tag makes it a novelty wine. This wine retails in Germany for $50CAD plus VAT.
I categorized the following three wines as wines that may interest collectors. These wines are perfectly enjoyable now and I could have placed them in the outstanding wines category. If you can keep your hands off these beauties then you will be rewarded by the wine spending further time in the bottle.
Lovers of Tuscan Sangiovese know that Brunello Di Montalcino commands the most respect and the highest prices. Not far down the road from Montalcino is the wine region of Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano, where Sangiovese is usually blended with a small amount of other local varietals. If you like Brunello or good Chianti Classico then you will also be fond of the wines from Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano.
To supplement and protect those $70-$100 a bottle Brunellos that are sleeping in your cellar considering buying the $33 Carpineto Vino Riserva Nobile di Montepulciano 2012 Sangiovese Blend—VINTAGES#: 368910. The posted tasting notes are accurate. The LCBO’s price is not bad as this wine sells for about $27 plus sale taxes in the USA. The posted tasting notes are pretty accurate. There is a whole lot to like about this wine.
The $31 Álvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2016 Carignan Blend—VINTAGES#: 216291 has many appealing attributes. The tasting notes are pretty accurate and we also experienced cigar and black tea leaves aromas. There is some much going on in your glass that sipping this wine is an experience. Give it some years in the bottle and it will only get better and better. In the USA this wine is a steal at $20CAD plus sale taxes. If I lived there I would back up the truck.
If you are a fan of lean white Burgundy then consider cellaring the $63 Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils Les Clous Meursault 2015 Chardonnay—VINTAGES#: 661322. Yes, $62 is a lot of money for a bottle of wine but not when we are talking about a Burgundy wine. The asking price in Ontario is a good one as this wine retails at similar prices elsewhere. The tasting notes are accurate.
Wines to Consider
Fans of Port wine will enjoy the $29 Burmester 10-Year-Old Tawny Port—VINTAGES#: 223958. The tasting notes are accurate, there is a lot going on in this wine. My friend Alan G once taught me to look for “grip” when tasting a Port. Grip is more frequently described as structure or tannins. The Burmester has grip and that element makes this port that much more enjoyable. This is a terrific buy for Port fans. Why didn’t the LCBO release this wine when the weather was colder and more suitable for drinking such a nice wine? It’s hard to believe that our friends in Europe can buy this wine for the equivalent of $10CAD plus VAT. Our friends in the USA can source this wine for $15CAD plus sale taxes. If the wine was not so good I’d tell you to avoid it because of how much the KGBO is ripping us off. The price problem is the same at the SAQ in Quebec. Sigh.
You get what is billed with the $22 Foris Vineyards Dry Gewürztraminer 2016—VINTAGES#: 420828. The posted tasting notes are decent. To me, Gewürztraminer based wine is too intense to drink on its own. These wines are much better with food and this one would work with the classic pairing of the dishes of India, China or parts of Asia. Retail price of this wine in the USA is $16CAD plus sale taxes.
Are you a fan of Bordeaux red wine? Do you want a cheap (well, cheap by Ontario standards) wine for that mid-week meal? Then consider trying the $17 Château Saint-Antoine Réserve du Château 2014 Bordeaux Red—VINTAGES#: 434464. This wine will not win medals but, for the price, it represents a drinkable wine with some complexity and structure. We experienced raspberry, spices, and seaweed. A little too fruit forward for my taste but the wine improved with exposure to air. Give it an hour or more in a decanter before serving. This wine retails in France for the equivalent of $7CAD plus VAT. Are you tired of paying the exaggerated KGBO prices yet? Well, if you think that people in Ontario have it bad then consider the folks in British Columbia pay $25 a bottle for this wine. You poor bastards. Shame, shame, shame on the government of BC. What will it take to bring about change in this country?
I normally do not like wines that are associated with celebrities. Whether the celebrity is an athlete, a musician or an actor the wine is almost always overpriced crap. But the ownership of the Miraval winery by none other than the likes of Brad and Angelina has not tainted the quality of the $24 Miraval Rosé 2017 Grenache/Shiraz—VINTAGES#: 342584. This wine has complex aromas and taste, minerality, great length and tannins, an attribute that I love to find in a Rosé. I hate the shape of the bottle (it looks nice but the shape makes it hard to store) and I wish the wine was a little cheaper but I really enjoy this wine. Typical price in France is $20CAD plus VAT so we are not paying much of a premium here in the People’s Republic of Ontario.
Is your stock of Tuesday night pizza wine getting low? If your answer is yes then consider buying the $18 Cecchi Storia di Famiglia Chianti Classico 2015—VINTAGES#: 540922. This is a table wine that is more enjoyable with food. I found this wine to be more approachable and balanced the day after the bottle was opened so this wine would benefit from a long decant.
Need to stock up on a house red wine? There are two good choices in this release.
Your first option is the $20 Casar de Burbia Mencía 2014 Red Blend—VINTAGES#: 392530. If this wine was a little less fruit forward I would have considered it to be outstanding for the price. The wine contains bright raspberry fruit, good acidity, decent length, structure, and balance. The typical retail price of this wine in the USA is $20CAD plus sale taxes so the Ontario price is a decent one.
Your second option is the $18 Elias Mora 2014 Tempranillo—VINTAGES#: 209650. This is a bold wine with black fruit flavors and good structure. A good BBQ wine.
Wines to Avoid
The important detail that Jeb Dunnuck omits from his tasting note of the $24 Wines of Substance Cabernet Sauvignon 2015—VINTAGES#: 419770 is that the wine is a confused mess. This is not much to like about this wine, especially considering the price point.
The nose of the $17 Cathedral Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon—VINTAGES#: 328567 is a turnoff. The wine started off as smelling like Jalapeno peppers, then changed to Ancho chiles, and finally the off-putting smell of green peppers. We found it a hard wine to like.