The lack of product on shelves seems to be the significant recent KGBO news that has people complaining about this organization. For those people that do not read this blog regularly, the KBGO is also known as the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. They like to call themselves the LCBO, a preference I suspect stems from a desire to downplay the word “control” in their actual name. I prefer to call the organization the KGBO as people in the wine industry know that control has everything to do with the way they operate. I think that their secret internal motto is “we will tell you what you are allowed to buy today”. You have to admit that their present troubles are consistent with this motto.
Personally, I have not experienced a supply problem and that outcome maybe because I have a wine collection and my purchases of wine tend to be more targeted and planned. However, the stories of the LCBO’s inability to satisfy the needs of their customers does add to my confusion. Why do the people of Ontario allow a government-controlled company (an organization established in 1927 when the Ontario government repealed the Temperance Act of 1916) to be the sole supplier of something essential to the quality of life as wine? Are we Canadians stoic? Or, have we just given up hope? I have to point out that this approach is abnormal.
From my perspective, the KGBO’s website is a more significant source of frustration than empty shelves when doing business with this monopoly. To call this site clumsy would be a compliment. The new site went live earlier this year and it was very bad at the time. In the passing months, the site has improved but it is still unfriendly and can confuse customers.
Until recently, KGBO customers had to use three separate websites to satisfy their needs. Yes, there were three: http://www.lcbo.com, http://www.vintages.com, and http://www.vintagesshoponline.com. Each site could provide you with different information and search results. Vintages.com was my refuge from lcbo.com but vintages.com is now history and I am slowly learning to how to use the new lcbo.com.
So here’s a tip. My biggest frustration with the site is identifying stores that have the product that I want to buy. Note that the site uses the concept of a primary or home store. When you search for a product, and your home store does not have that product, the site will say “Buy In-Store (Unavailable).” In fact, frequently when searching for a product, I see all three purchase options as “Unavailable”. One might conclude from this information that the product is sold-out. However, it may (or may not) also mean that your home store only is sold out.
To find out whether the KGBO has the product, you need to click on the “+” sign that is on the “Buy In-Store” option and then select “Check Nearby Stores”. The final step is to enter your city (e.g., Ottawa) or your postal code. The website will then display the supply, if any, that is available in other KGBO stores.
You may have noted that I have cut back on the number of postings on this site. The time involved in creating posts is significant and I am considering ways to reduce the effort and still highlight the wines at the KGBO that I think are worth your hard-earned money. Maybe Instagram, maybe Twitter. Stay tuned.
I was in a Rosé mood last weekend so most of the wines I selected to taste from the July 7 release were pink ones. Included in my observations below are several wines from the June 22 release that the muddler group tasted and that are still available at the time of writing this post.
The $22 Bodega Garzón Reserva Albariño 2018 VINTAGES#: 646802 is a lovely balanced and highly versatile wine. You can enjoy this wine solo or with a nice meal and impress your friends with a glass of wine, a good wine, from Uraguay. Really good stuff and priced fairly as the KGBO is charging about the same as our friends in the Excited States of America pay.
Do you prefer a white wine with a little more body? Then try a bottle of the $18 Pagos de Galir Godello 2017 | VINTAGES#: 645390. The posted tasting notes are accurate and this balanced wine has some complexity and good length and represents decent value. We pay 35% more than the folks eating tapas in sunny Spain but our friends in the U.S.A. have to fork out 25% more than we do in Ontario. Go figure.
If your budget can handle $27 for a Rosé then treat yourself to the Ashley Mary Limited Edition M de Minuty Rosé 2018 Grenache Blend | VINTAGES#: 575316. The posted tasting notes are accurate and like the Garzón, this is a versatile wine with a lot of finesse. You’ll pay about 10% more than you would in the good old USA and about 50% more than our friends in France. Maybe you are not familiar with a country where one can buy cheese made with unpasteurized milk and where wine is not a controlled substance. One of those countries is France and I say: “Viva France! Vous les chanceux bâtards.
Refuse to part with $27 for a Rosé? Then step down to the $21 Mimi en Provence Grande Réserve Rosé 2018 | VINTAGES#: 452573. A lovely versatile Rosé that will make you happy. Unfortunately, we are being gouged on price. Our American cousin can enjoy this wine for the equivalent of $16CAD (we pay a 31% premium to Doug Ford’s coffers) and the price in Europe is similar to that charged in the U.S.A. In 2017, the KGBO charged $17 for this wine and that’s what the price should be now. The KGBO raised the price to $21 last year and kept it at the same level this year.
Fans of Sauvignon Blanc will enjoy the $25 William Fèvre Saint-Bris 2017 Sauvignon Blanc | VINTAGES#: 626523. Yep, a Sauvignon Blanc from Burgundy, and one that I can actually enjoy (I’m overly sensitive the aroma of sulfur that my nose perceives to be in excessive amounts in nearly all Sauvignon-Blanc-based wines). The wine retails for a similar price in the USA and is $10 cheaper a bottle in France. The local shame is the $5 a bottle (25%) price increase from the 2015 vintage that the LCBO has forced upon you. I’m sure that you have no trouble getting a 25% raise from your boss this year. Right?
Feel like treating yourself to a nice bottle of red? I’ll give you two options and both of them come from sunny Spain, a country that offers wine lovers great value.
The first choice is the red discussed below under Collector’s Corner. The second choice is the $30 López de Haro Gran Reserva 2010 | VINTAGES#: 431973. Here’s a nicely aged lovely wine that you can enjoy with food and sip solo with a good friend. The information that I gathered on comparative pricing of this wine confuses me. This wine is considerably cheaper is Spain (it costs 29% more in Ontario), and it is about 10% cheaper in the U.S.A. The retail price of $48 in BC is the show stopper. That’s 60% more than Ontario! The folks in France may be les chanceux bâtards but I feel for my friends in BC as they are les pauvres bâtards. This pricing is a bigger ripoff than the 26% price KGBO price increase since their last release of this wine. Freaking government greed.
The tannic structure of the $34 12 Linajes Reserva 2012 Tempranillo VINTAGES#: 437681 suggests that the wine would benefit significantly with time in the cellar. Enjoy this wine now if you must and tame it with food that is rich and preferably has charred elements. Knowing that you are paying less than for this wine than the folks in Spain may also make you happy. Don’t tell the folks at the LCBO as we will surely pay more next year.
Wines to consider
The $14 Kir-Yianni Akakies Xinomavro Rosé 2018 | VINTAGES#: 71050 is a way to cut down on the cost of a complete meal. This wine has a tannin backbone and ample acidity. This means that it is a wine that works and is enjoyable with food but you’ll tire of the experience if you consume the wine solo.
Are you a fan of southern Rhone red wine? Are you looking for a decent house red wine? If the answers to these questions are yes then you should risk the $20 and try the Ferraton Père & Fils Plan de Dieu Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2017 Grenache Blend | VINTAGES#: 74229. While I would prefer less alcohol heat, this wine is a decent one for the price. Our friends in the U.S.A. pay about the same price as the hard-working folks in Ontario but those lucky bastards in France can pick this one up at nearly 50% less than the price in Ontario. Merde.
Looking for something a little different? Maybe a wine to go with food that you grilled? The $17 Federici Roma Rosso 2017 | VINTAGES#: 638726 may be your ticket. The wine’s profile includes red cherry, baking spice, and a dash of green pepper flavors. The acid level is this wine must be high as the wine’s 15 grams of residual sugar would otherwise make this wine appear to be overly sweet. The wine needs food and, like the Kir-Yianni Rosé, the reason to buy this wine is to reduce the cost of hosting that BBQ.