"New" Vintages Catalogue
began twenty-six years ago. The catalogue was easy to use and advertorial
free. In a desire to make Vintages profits grow, in May 2002 twice-monthly
releases were introduced. These were combined in a single glossy monthly
catalogue. Today 39-months later, the Vintages catalogue returns to the
single release format, which now happens every two weeks rather than once
all sounds relatively harmless, but in the words of one disgruntled
supplier, it is nothing but a huge cash grab. “The LCBO has become a giant vacuum cleaner sucking our marketing
budgets dry. They know exactly what we’ve got to spend and where we
spend it. Now, they want it all! We’re charged for everything from
in-store sampling to LTOs and shelf extenders - if I fart in one of their
stores, I’m afraid I’ll be billed."
If you think that all those colourful bottle shots on the front, back and inside have anything to do with quality, you are wrong. It costs $1,800 to get a single position on the two-bottle front cover. This jumps to $2,200 in October and $3,000 in November and December. Depending on the month, it is $1,500, $1,700 and $2,000 for each of the three-bottle back cover. And so it goes. By doubling the frequency of catalogues, which now only have a shelf life of two weeks, the real cost of Vintages advertising has doubled.
it gets worse. Importers now feel coerced into advertising with the
possible threat that Vintages will not buy as much, perhaps nothing at
all, if they don’t cooperate. One importer, who was solicited by
Vintages to buy two upcoming release ads, politely replied that they
didn’t have the funds available. A week later the agent was asked to
reconsider this decision given the large volume of pending Vintages
orders. The ads were placed.
is shameful how low the LCBO has stooped in adopting what basically
amounts to big buyer “extortion.” This would not be so terrible if
there were alternative places to sell imports, but there are none. Other
than privately owned Ontario wine stores, which can sell 90% import-based
blends, the LCBO has the only import shelf space in town.
down to today’s release, the first section is one of the
soon-to-be-paid-for Vintages thematics entitled
“Café Europa: Your table is
waiting” featuring 23 items, some good, some not so good.
While such sections look fine, they confuse customers because
similar wines now appear all over the catalogue, not in one place! German
wine lovers, for instance, have to play catalogue
hopscotch with similar German entries, which now appear
on pages 7,
11, and 26.
the Vintages putting name of the producer before the name of the wine. In
the past all Australian Shiraz were grouped together and then were sorted
by producer. Now they appear helter-skelter on different pages sorted by
producer rather than grape variety, which is great for the brand but
challenging for the customer.
on the front cover of today’s release catalogue is my best buy white: Lurton
2003 Terre Fumées’ Colombard
(680603) at $10.95. Tasting a bit like a Sauvignon Blanc, it comes from
the southwest France and is designated as a Vin de Pays du Comté Tolosan.
It is made exclusively from Colombard grapes grown on the Gascogne
foothills of the Pyrenees, which is famous for Armagnac. This perfect
unoaked summer pick-me-up with 12.2% alcohol, has attractive, ripe
melon-lemon aromas and very dry and medium-light bodied on the palate with
refreshing, lemon and juicy melon flavours
my best buy from New Zealand is back: the screwcap edition of Kim
Crawford 2004 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
(975672) at $19.95.
If you enjoy great Chardonnay, spend a few dollars more on Domaine
Jean-Pierre Sève 2002 ‘Terroir’ Pouilly Fuissé
(681056) at $29.95, which is at its peak of perfection. The lovely,
complex, nutty, lemon meringue nose is followed up by solid, lingering,
dried ripe lemon-Anjou pear flavours - great for white meats.
delicious, well-priced Pinot Noir is so hard to find, my first red
recommendation is Rodney
Strong 2001 Pinot Noir
(954834) at only $19.95. This stunner from Sonoma’s Russian River Valley
will knock you out with its slightly smoky, juicy, ripe black cherry
flavours. Put down a case to enjoy over the next six months.
you are looking for something to evolve, don’t miss 2001
Château d’Or et de Gueules Les Cimels
at $16.95. The rich, complex Rhone sleeper comes from the Costières de Nîmes
region. It is pumped with 14% alcohol and has lots of gently earthy, smoky
plum flavours with lingering bitter chocolate and cassis notes. Good
today, it will be even better a year from, especially when served with a
but not least, it isn’t often that I get excited about Canadian
sparklers, but Jackson-Triggs
2001 Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Méthode Classique
(587691) at $24.95 is worth a detour. This blend of Chardonnay and Pinot
Noir has a light straw colour and fine, bright, ripe lemon nose with hints
of lees. On the palate it is very dry and refreshing with ripe lemon-melon
flavours. Made in the traditional Champagne method, it has an excellent
mousse and was aged in the bottle for 25 months on the lees (contributing
to the texture and complexity) before being disgorged.
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