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Thursday, May 22, 2008

OntarioWineReview.com - Newsletter 0083 - Esprit Update (by Michael Pinkus)

Response to my Esprit article in Newsletter #82 has been overwhelmingly positive from readers, fellow writers, wineries, etc.  The only people unhappy are those over at Vincor.  Bruce Walker, Vice President of Industry Relations, in a rather stern phone message stated:  we are in the middle of "an awful lot of damage control … that was so unnecessary and so inappropriate."  He then went on to list all the good things Jackson-Triggs and Vincor, are doing for the Olympics.

Once again, Vincor has missed the point.  I said nothing against the other Vincor efforts to help our Olympic athletes, and in fact I applaud them for making a difference in this regard.  Would somebody please tell Vincor (because I think they are tired of hearing form me) that, as Canadians, we have no problem with them making a buck and/or raising funds for our athletes, as Konrad Ejbich pointed out in his quote in the Welland Tribune (Tuesday May 13).  What we do have a problem with is when they compromise the integrity of Canadian wine and wineries by passing off an inferior blended product as Canadian wine.  Why did / does Vincor refuse to get this point? 

As I casually combed through the Welland Tribune article, I found this quote:

"Both Jackson-Triggs Esprit wines and VQA products will be served in 2010 by Vincor," [Cathy Jacobs, vice-president for Jackson-Triggs Estates wines]. 

This quote demanded some follow-up.  So I got on the horn to Bruce Walker and he assured me, with an emphatic "No", that Esprit-blended product will NOT, repeat Not be served "at any Olympic function or event" – whew.  The wine will of course still be available in liquor stores. 

Another positive as a result of my article is that a very good press release will soon be surfacing on the Vincor website, mainly in direct response to what was written and has come to light, in which Vincor comes clean as to the content of the Esprit product and reasons for going that route (see the release here).

I am also happy to report, and Vincor has informed me directly, and I have also confirmed it through independent spotters, that "Limited Edition VQA-Esprit" wines are now available at both Jackson-Triggs wineries (Niagara and Okanagan) … the blends will still continue to be sold in liquor stores.  My request for these VQA wines for review has been granted so stay tuned.

What I found most head scratching about this whole Esprit-fiasco is why Vincor didn't foresee this.  Had they been open and honest about their plan, there would have been little need for, as Bruce Walker referred to it, "damage control".  Instead, because of what I wrote two weeks ago, Vincor went into this "damage control" mode.  Bruce admitted that had I not written anything (and I'm sure they wish I hadn't) nothing would have been done or said.  He also said that no one (writer, public, etc.) made any kind of noise about this situation.   Therefore, I am left asking that one nagging question that keeps going round and round in my mind, what took us so long?
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