I was in the two main government specialty liquor stores today (Alberni/Bute downtown and 39th and Cambie) and found it interesting that the latest “Best in BC” release was, mostly, still sitting unsold on the floor of both stores. Jackson Triggs, Osoyoos Larose, Mission Hill, Sandhill, Poplar Grove…lots of wine priced at $35 and above…just sitting there.
For those who aren’t familiar with this, it is the annual (or sometimes bi-annual) release of what someone decides are the best wines in the province. This year, that occured on October 29th, I believe. Much fanfare, limited quantities…and yet most of them still sitting there.
That got me to thinking about “why”? Was it price? Quality? Selection? Promotion?
Interestingly, the two wines that I thought were the best in the bunch — the ’08 Tantalus Old Vines Riesling and the ’09 Moon Curser Border Vines — were long gone. As were the Burrowing Owl wines (Cabernet Sauvignon and Meritage, I believe).
But what about the rest of these? Big names, to be sure, award winners (don’t get me started…)…so why are they not selling?
Could be the economy, of course. Although the 2008 Bordeaux vintage is almost completely gone, so some wine lovers spent some big money.
Could also be the selection. Everyone has a different opinion of what is the “best”. And most of what I consider to be the best of BC — La Frenz, Kettle Valley, Nichol, Blue Mountain — weren’t represented (none of them VQA, by the way…perhaps another reason?).
Promotion may be another factor. As I blogged last week, the current vintages (2008 and 2009) didn’t exactly receive glowing reviews from the powers that be. One review I red actually said it was a “good effort for the vintage”…why would anyone spend lots of money on a wine like that?
But the real reason for the lack of sales, I think, is the price and quality/value ratio. When you get over $30 for a bottle of wine, there start to be lots of different options from around the world for wine that, quite frankly, offer better quality and value than what we usually get here in BC. And when you get above $40…well, as the Sopranos used to so, “fugettaboutit!”.
So why try to sell BC wines at this price, particularly to us here in BC? It obviously doesn’t work at the retail level. And for restaurants…can you imagin paying 2.5 – 3 times as much on a wine list? Not me!
So what to make of the “Best of BC”? Well, I don’t think they are the best. And, judging from sales — or the lack of them — either do a lot of other people.
Maybe its time for many of these wineries, and the government liquor bureaucrats, to change how they do things?