Wednesday, March 11, 2009

BC Wines at Yellow Tail Prices

By Julianna Hayes
I recently wrote about a study, which showed overall Canadian consumption of wine was escalating dramatically but complained that the report failed to provide specific details explaining why. I wanted to know why foreign wine sales were far surpassing local ones and what people were spending on average were per bottle. Well, several readers were more than pleased to provide me with the answers.

"B.C. wines are substantially pricier than imports,” wrote John. “If I’m looking for good value I head to the Chilean and Australian shelves.”

"I'm not ashamed to admit I buy a lot of Yellow Tail," wrote Hugh, referencing my cheeky suggestion that Canadians are now merely blowing their beer budget on this wildly popular Australian wine brand that has saturated the market. "It's reliable and affordable."

"I may be drinking a bit more wine than I was five years ago, but I'm trying to cut back on what I pay per bottle, especially now," said Karen. "Consequently, I don't buy a lot of local wine."

Ironically, nobody saw fit to provide me with an exact dollar figure, range or ceiling on which they base their spending.

But using Yellow Tail products as the benchmark, it appears the magic number lies between $13 and $18. Which makes me wonder where people do their shopping.

I did a little simple sleuthing and discovered that B.C. VQA stores list some 180 wines under $18. Let me repeat that – 180. Meanwhile, government stores list 120 local wines under that price point. And they don’t include all the bulk plonk from fruit of questionable origin that is made by the truckload in this province. Now if you can’t find something local you like and can afford in this lot, I’m at a loss.

I’m not going to get all preachy about how you should drink only local wine. I’m every bit in favour of people doing a little global trotting when it comes to their wine purchases.
But when people make blanket statements about the lack of value in B.C. product, it drives me to distraction.

Granted, there are indeed $25-plus wines aplenty in the marketplace. But the same holds true for products from Australia, Chile, Argentina and the like. Isn’t it time you give homegrown wines a fair shake?

O.K., I’m stepping off my soapbox now. I think the numbers speak for themselves. But since price is such an issue to consumers, I’m introducing a new feature – a tasting note called “B.C. Value Wine of the Week,” which will focus on products in the under $18 category.

And I’m kicking it off with a bang with an introductory list of value wines to get the party started.

18 Under $18

* Please note – availability of these wines at these price points are either through VQA stores or BC LDBS. Some may be available through private retailers, but expect a price mark-up.

Arrowleaf Red Feather 2007 $11.99
A blush that is earthy and full of red berries, fruit leather, mineral, spice. A touch of residual sugar but finish with a fresh, clean snap. Think hot tub for now and patio in the summer. Great deal.

Blasted Church Hatfield's Fuse 2007 $16.99
Fresh approachable white blend featuring green apple, citrus rind and flinty aromas. Has a fresh bright fruit entry with sweet-sour character and clean finish. Value and great packaging too, plus a twist off.

Cedar Creek Estate Pinot Gris Classic 2007 $16.99
If you like bone-dry, food friendly gris, this represents great value in a stylish version that features green apple, orange peel, mineral, and lime. Bright fruit on the palate with a lemon-lime slightly sour finish.

Gehringer Brothers Cuvee Noire 2007 $12.99
Surprisingly complex nose and palate of smoked meat, pepper, dark berries, mocha, earth and tobacco. Supple, silky and easy to quaff and at this price point, there should be no complaint.

Granite Cellars Ehrenfelser 2006 $17.90
Great value in a intensely aromatic wine featuring a bouquet of peach, orange peel, floral notes, spice and mineral. Sweet entry on the palate balanced by intense citrus fruit, peach flavours.

Inniskillin Merlot Reserve 2005 $17.99
This is not the fruit bomb you’d expect from Merlot, but if you like savoury reds, this peppery, earthy, leafy, black olive, resiny, smoky cedarbox is your kind. Think big, fat juicy steak.

Jackson Triggs Merlot Proprietor's Reserve 2006 $15
Yearly consistency with this wine, it features ripe, round black fruit aromas, licorice, spice and a touch of smoke. Juicy intensity in the mouth. Killer value.

Little Straw Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2007 $16.90
Classic SB aromas of gooseberry, fresh cut grass, green apple and grapefruit. Bright, lean, crisp palate with a pleasant saltiness – for those who like a fresh personality. Pair up with oysters or other shellfish.

Mission Hill Five Vineyards Cabernet Merlot 2006 $15.99
Nice, fruity, easy drinking style with supple texture and great freshness on the finish. Loads of cherry, cassis, cranberry, herbal notes in its blended character.

Peller Estates Family Series Merlot 2007 $14.49
Another savoury merlot featuring aromas of cedar, smoke, black cherry, plum and pepper spice. Nice weight on the palate, a bit of a dry finish, but tannins are moderate.

Prospect Winery Riesling 2007 $12.99
Apple, apricot, candied citrus peel, lemon-lime and a hint of floral in the nose. Fresh on the palate with a lingering acidity on the finish. A great buy.

Quails’ Gate Dry Riesling 2007 $16.99
This winery has done up dry riesling right with loads of green apple, floral, grapefruit and a touch of lemon character. Lemon oil, mineral, apple skin and grapefruit on the palate. Very stylish.

Road 13 Honest John’s White 2007 $17
Green jujubes, apple skin, orange peel, floral, pear, spice, grass and pink grapefruit with hints of honey. This is a complex blend made for foodies. Delicious.

Sandhill King Family Vineyard Pinot Gris 2007 $17.99
A perennial favourite among critics and consumers alike, this is always full of green apple, orange peel, mineral, yellow grapefruit, floral notes with a nutty hint. Bright acidity with mineral, lemon lime, apple skin and a clean finish. Could double the price.

St Hubertus Estate Chasselas 2007 $15.99
Light bright wine of fresh green apple, a hint of peach, citrus and lemon. Easy sipping wine. Think cheese fondue.

Sumac Ridge Estate Merlot Private Reserve 2005 $16
Deep.dark, aromas of black cherry, pepper, chocolate, coffee beantobacco leaf, spice, vanilla. Has all the lusciousness you’d expect in a ripe merlot. Long, slightly hot finish.

Tinhorn Creek Estate Cabernet Franc 2005 $17.99
Herbaceous, tobacco, pepper, black cherry, meaty, smoky, leather and vanilla notes. Features black berry, tobacco, bell pepper, herbs and a hint of orange peel on the palate. Terrific cab franc.

Township 7 Chardonnay Unoaked 2007 $17.99
Orange blossom, tropical fruit, marmalade, spice in the nose and on the palate. It features crisp acidity along with its lusciousness. A delight to drink.


buzz bishop said...

Friends dont let friends drink Yellowtail.

Looking for a good Aussie value? Try half bottles of Penfolds Koonunga Hill - 91 points from Parker and 2 half bottles is $2 cheaper than 1 full bottle!

bijou living said...

In order to appeal to a larger market the BC wine industry needs to advance their marketing campaigns away from dried flower wreaths, gold spray painted twigs and weak water color labels.
The campaigns are old fashioned and specifically geared to baby boomers. Why not check out a new demographic? Those with plenty of disposable income aren't always over 50.
In plain English, the marketing departments are killing it for BC wine.