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Dec. 15 - Wine Awards Canada - Charting 339 of Ontario's Best ~ Toasting Ontario's Best Sparklers from Brut to Gently Sweet

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Nov. 10 - 2005 Burgundy ~ The wine gurus like it!

Nov. 3 - Magic in Montreal ~ Le Marché an Inspiration for Local Wineries

Oct. 27 - Scary Times at Vintages ~ From Tricks to Treats

Oct. 20 -Best of the West

Oct. 13 -Today at Vintages ~ Bordeaux and Much More

Oct. 6 - Wine Auction Fever ~ Confessions of a Wine Auction Junkie ~ Forget Screaming Eagle and pass the Rum

Sep. 29 - Southern French Accents

Sep. 22 - Perfect for an Autumn day ~ Is that a bottle of spicy wine under your kilt?

Sep. 15 - A Celebration of the Ontario's harvest ~ Faces behind great wines

Sep. 8 - Reel Wines for Real Film Lovers ~ Can't snuggle? Here's what to smuggle! ~ Plus Ontario Recommendations

Sep. 1 - Dust off your Lederhosen ~ Austrian Wines Finally Unleashed in Vintages

Aug. 25 - Summer Twilight Selections ~ Spanish Synergy

Aug. 18 - The Wines of Chile ~ Soaring to the peaks of the Andes

Aug. 11 - Discovering Greece - a wine odyssey ~ Splendid Assyrtiko from Santorini

Aug. 4 - Spain - From the Classics to the Cutting Edge ~ Revving up for Rioja

Jul. 28 - Days of Wine & Roses no more! ~ Under $10 wines a rare breed

Jul. 21 - Que Sera, Syrah ~  Big, Smoky and Beautiful

Jul. 14 - Finding the best wine matches ~ Sizzling Seafood at Scaramouche

Jul. 7 - Sizzling Sauvignon Blanc ~ Vintages Best Buy Whites

Jun. 30 - In search of the Ontario Idol ~ Tracking down the best for Canada Day

Jun. 23 - Vintages Price Hikes ~ Hitting the customer where it hurts

Jun. 16 - Life After Yellow Tail

Jun. 9 - Rosé Rules ~ From serious to casual, unearthing that ambidextrous rosé

Jun. 2 - The ones that didn't get away! ~ Unearthing recent best buys - all under $20

May. 26 - New Zealand’s Natural Gems ~ The best of whites

May. 19 - Alsatian with that Crustacean?

May. 12 - Paradoxical Portugal ~ Old World Grapes with New World Appeal

May. 5 - Toronto's First Private Import Wine Fair ~ Private Imports Picking up Steam Despite LCBO Bullying

Apr. 28 - Toasting Mom with France’s Finest

Apr. 21 - Prime Time for California

Apr. 14 - Victims of Vintages

Apr. 7 - Delicious Ciders that won't break the Easter bank

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Wine Auction Fever
Confessions of a Wine Auction Junkie
Forget Screaming Eagle and pass the Rum
© Michael Vaughan 2007
National Post Weekly Wine & Spirits Columnist
Saturday, October 6, 2007

To see this article as it appears in the National Post click here 

All listings are automatically linked to the LCBO database
If there is a product that interests you, just click on the name below and you will instantaneously connected with the LCBO database. The product will appear in blue and all you have to do is click on the name again and then the next screen will provide details along with the store search. Just click on store search. The number of bottles in each store is updated nightly. Call the store first to see if stock still remains (each store phone number is listed).

I have to confess - I am a wine auction junkie. I have been hooked ever since Dalton Robertson, former editor of the Financial Post, commissioned me to produce the first in-depth wine auction report to appear in the Canadian press. It was the fifth Heublein National Auction of Rare Wines in Atlanta (click here to see the original June 9, 1973 Financial Post article).

By today's standards, prices were unbelievably low. A rehoboam (equivalent to six bottles) of 1929 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild sold for $6,000, while a mint condition regular sized bottle of 1858 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild went for a paltry $1,100. Old wines were incredible bargains. As for more recent vintages, I complained that1966 Chateau Leoville Las Cases (a fine second growth St-Julien) had jumped from $4 a bottle three years earlier to a heady $20. The current 2003 edition sells for $390 at the LCBO - almost 20 times the 1973 price.

Investing in a $25 catalogue, which was pricey at the time, had its benefits. Anyone who bought one would have access to an enormous preview tasting where MW (Master of Wine) Michael Broadbent was pouring wines going back to 1850's. As compared to today's crowded venues, this sparsely populated event was sublime. Imagine being able to leisurely work your way through dozens of great1928/1929 Bordeaux.

All of this came back when I recently talked to Barry O'Brien who organizes the annual Vintages auction. This year's event is the biggest ever. It will take place at Ritchies new galleries at 380 King Street East over four days - Friday, October 12 to Monday, October 17. There are 2,729 lots with estimates running from $100/200 to $20,000/25,000. Most are $800/1,000. The catalogue costs $20 (or $30 by mail).

For some, the best part about this event is the Gala Tasting being held at the Carlu on Thursday October 11 from 7-9 pm. Tickets are $300, which is cheap when you consider the stature of the 74 wines available for tasting. Only 32 of them actually come from the auction, the balance has been handpicked by O'Brien from various sources.

Having the opportunity to taste icons, such as the hideously expensive Screaming Eagle, is always enlightening. I found SE to be "interesting" but not my style - simply too much of everything. Nevertheless, it's fun to uncover some taste treats from oddball vintages at reasonable prices.

Of course, buyers must be aware that the provenance of the wine - basically how it was stored - is critical to how it will taste. I remember sampling a dozen perfect-looking bottles of 1970 Chateau Latour at a London auction preview. They were randomly taken from some sixty cases up for sale. Each one was cooked due to improper shipping/storage.

Fortunately, this isn't likely to occur with the wines from the estate of Bill Heaslip featured next Friday. Having shared many great bottles of Burgundy with the deceased, I can attest to the fact that he kept his cellar in excellent condition. All proceeds of Heaslip's wines are being donated to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

When it comes to spirits you don't have to worry about ageability. Check out the collection of 229 single malts split into 18 lots on Sunday. In this spirited vein I have discovered the ultimate Thanksgiving sipper: the sublimely elegant Havana Club Máximo Extra Anejo (50468) at $2,000 for 500 ml (or $118 per ounce). It is the finest rum I have ever experienced with a level of refinement and sophistication comparable to the very finest of Cognacs! Only 7 bottles remain at the Summerhill store.

To see the list of items being tasted in the Pre-Auction Gala Tasting click here. To see the electronic copy of the Auction Catalogue click here.

2001 - 2007 Tasting Note Database
Our tasting note database from December 31, 2000 to August 2007, covers every Vintages release product for the past 81 months. There are more than 15,000 notes in the database data. Just enter the name of the product, supplier name or CSPC number. Or you can search by type of wine, country of origin, even wine agent! Nothing could be easier. Also you can get information on the agent by clicking on the agent’s name, as well as current LCBO store inventory by clicking on "Check LCBO Availability", which will automatically tell you the number of bottles at LCBO as of last night.

To use our Tasting Notes Database: click here

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Copyright Food & Beverage Testing Institute of Canada 2007
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