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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shakespeare Wrote a play called Esprit


Just this past and last week Shakespearean scholars in the UK discovered a first draft of HAMLET…


The hero was originally named ESPRIT, and he said (at one point):




Vee Queue, Eh, or not Vee Queue, Eh - that is the question:

    Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

    The slings and arrows of outrageous wineries

    Or to take arms against a sea of rotting grapes,

    And by opposing end them. To die- to sleep-

    No more; and by a sleep to say we end

    The wine wars, and the thousand natural shocks

    That palate is heir to. 'Tis a consummation 

    Devoutly to be wish'd. To die- to sleep.

    To pass out- perchance to dream: ay, there's the vino!








Friday, February 20, 2009

COMMENTARY: Same LCBO Vintages wines taste different at home --

COMMENTARY: The wines we writers taste at the Vintages media tasting do NOT taste like the same wines you taste at home…


Twice a month, the GTA wine writers troop down to Toronto's Vintages tasting lab to pre-sample an upcoming release. We could taste 120 or so products. These would be sparklers, still wines, fortified and sweet wines, spirits, and assorted other beverages. Not beer.


This usually means about 100 white and red table wines, the bulk of your purchases from Vintages.


Studies show that MOST of your wine purchases are for consumption that weekend of the release, that is, wines can be bought on the Friday night before the Saturday release (especially in the larger stores such as Queens Quay, Summerhill, Bayview Village, and Royal York), or on Saturday or Sunday – for immediate drinking. Nothing wrong with that.


BUT you should know that the LCBO pops the corks on the media wines by 9 AM on the media tasting day, and the white wines come out of the fridge at that time too. MOST wine writers drift in around 11AM, a few even at 1 PMAND THE WINES HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO THE AIR FOR TWO OR MORE HOURS already. This aeration can kill a fresh and fruity wine, can play havoc with a chilled white that is almost at room temperature, can flatten a sparkling wine, and can enhance a big red wine.


REMEMBER, each open bottle is hoisted by a wine writer and some LCBO people and tilted before being poured. Each bottle has been aerated by a dozen people before that PM wine writer gets there – and each bottle has thus been compromised.


As additional studies show, the wines you taste at home have probably been opened only 10 minutes before you actually consume them. And you will probably finish that bottle within half an hour if you have company. That wine will taste different than the wine we taste, simply because we taste a wine that has been exposed to oxygen far longer than normal…That big heavy red that we enthuse over is only good because it has been aerated longer than yours. If you were to give your bottle more aeration time, then it too will approximate what we taste in the lab. This will mean double decanting your red wines.


Your white wines of course, will need to be chilled, unlike the Vintages lab wines which have been out of the fridge for a couple of hours. But then – those are the only white wines we get to taste, and some have lost their fragrance and their fragility.


Only one wine writer – the guy at the Toronto Star – tastes the wines at 9 AM; his opinion may be more valid than other wine writers in terms of the wine that you are actually drinking that night, should you just pop the corks and not bother to decant.


ALSO: you may wish to consider the issue of palate fatigue. Studies have shown that wine judges face palate fatigue; they ought not to taste more than 100 wines a day. Yet wine writers at Vintages regularly taste 100 wines in a few hours! There is no way that good judgement can be made on many red wines as these are tasted after writers taste the many white wines. Most writers go through the bottles as put out by the LCBO, light white wines to heavy red wines. By the time they are halfway through the reds, their palates are compromised. Of course we constantly spit out the wines, but alcohol enters our body through the skin in the mouth. That is why some writers no longer taste all the wines, preferring to taste only half or fewer. This will also mean that they might miss a scoop or two on some interesting wines that may be forgotten in the rush.


Beware the writers who taste ALL the wines and write notes on all of them. They do not probably taste "fresh" bottles. They get to the heavy reds at 2 PM, five hours after the bottles are open, and this length of time favours the taste profile of the red wine. If you want to taste along with those writers, then you must be prepared to open and decant your bottles ahead of time – five hours or so. Nothing else will suffice…


REMEMBER that GTA wine writers taste warmer white wines that have been opened a while (and this diminishes the wine's character) and red wines that have been exposed to oxygen for quite some time (and this plumps up the wine's character, except for the fresh and fruity reds).


Sunday, February 15, 2009

International Response to Wine Economy Downturn

In other International Alcohol Beverage Economic Downturn (IABED) news, it has been widely reported ---


--- that TGIF has been replaced by BYOB.


--- that Robert Parker has collapsed his 100-point scheme, and has reverted to the UC Davis scoring of 20 points. Decimals will be introduced (they were there all along anyway). The magic "make or break" number will now be 18 points.


--- that the "Vintages Assessment" use of three stars as the high score has been vindicated, as other users of four and five star ratings collapse their numbers to three, to mesh with "Parker points".


--- that the Euro wine industry has forced grape clones to merge.


--- that trade commissions have cancelled wine junket fam tours for wine media.


--- that wine judging, in light of the proven palate fatigue, has been downgraded to "wine opinions".


--- that the INAO is preparing legislation to commit Euro countries to producing wine only in half-litre (500mL) containers. This will have the immediate effect of lowering prices everywhere in the world except at the LCBO, Still A Crown Corporation.


--- that the Organization of Wine-Exporting Countries (OWEC), New World Division, immediately responded by introducing the magnum (1.5L) as the preferred standard of wine bottles. "This should encourage wine sales exported from hard pressed countries south of the Equator", said a spokesperson.


Much more on these leads and items as they are uncovered by Twitter....stay tuned.




Tuesday, February 10, 2009

GOSH: LCBO responds to economic downturn-crisis-turmoil -- report


TRAWNA – (GOSH Wine News Services) – The LCBO, A Crown Corporation, will soon be releasing its long-awaited report on how it is going to present itself to the good people of the fiscally-wracked Ontario, A Have-Not Province.


Top wine investigative reporter Brett Grimsby has been on the scene for weeks now, and he files this story based on several interviews with Miffed Mole, the collective name for our sources who are familiar with the situation, and who spoke to him on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge details while they were very close to the centre of discussions and while the matter under consideration had not yet been finalized nor announced to the public:


Just how bad is the wine economy in Ontario? No matter what you call it (economic downturn, scaleback, turmoil, crisis, meltdown, et al) it is serious. Under discussion, but still to be approved by the LCBO, are the following measures:


1) Bottle your own wine returns to the LCBO as "Cellared in Canada" product, but this time you get to pick the blend yourself.


2) Mark-ups at the LCBO are to be based on distance travelled to the store where purchased; this will allow for price variation.


3) The LCBO will impose heavy penalties on heavy glass wine bottles. For one thing, they will be placed on the bottom shelves and employees have been instructed NOT to help customers lift them. For another, the deposit rises to 25 cents. Wineries will be allowed to ship and sell wines according to a maximum weight factor, and heavy bottles will eat into the weight allocated to the volume of the wines.


4) The idea of using ONLY twist tops for wines on the General List is back on the table (it never really left).


5) The first "Cellared in Canada" wine will be available at Vintages in tetra pak, and in the Classics Catalogue in PET bottles.


6) The LCBO's Aeroplan miles have been re-cast as Old Yeller Greyhound klicks.


7) In line with the edict on plastic bags in the City of Toronto, the LCBO will now charge a nickel for its paper bags, which will also have paid-for private advertising on them.


8) The LCBO will be re-branded as LCBGTA, leaving the Windsor area customers to go to Detroit. Said a spokesman for the new LCBGTA, "The Ottawa people can all go to Hull". Based on sales, all of this seems logical. The good people of Ontario living north of Barrie only drink beer, and they can continue to go to The Beer Store.


9) Effective immediately, the "Food" part of "Food & Drink" magazine will be dropped. There will be no more recipes unless they involve alcoholic beverages.


10) "Shelf talkers" will become "shelf mumblers".


11) There will be no more separate Vintages catalogues – all product will be released irregularly on an "as if" basis and will merge with the In-Store Disappearance program.


More on this story as it develops...If anybody has any comments on how to improve the wine economy of Ontario, then send them in and I will pass them on to Miffed Mole...




Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ontario Wine Review: Deceptive to the Cor (by Michael Pinkus)

Ontario Wine Review: Deceptive to the Cor

This past fall (2008) it was quietly announced that Jackson-Triggs (Vincor)
would be selling their "Esprit" Olympic wine in the newly created "Olympic
retail stores" in British Columbia. This raised a red flag just last week,
when a colleague of mine found the announcement during a routine web search.
He wondered if the wines available in these stores (2 red / 2 white) were to
be the VQA or Cellared in Canada Esprit wines. As many of you know back in
May 2008 (Newsletter #82) I called Vincor out on the carpet for putting the
inferior non-VQA wines into the official Olympic Esprit wines. My comments
caused quite some controversy for Vincor and made them into "damage-control
(aka. spin mode). They told us that a VQA wine was indeed on the horizon,
and published an explanation on their website as to why they went the
non-VQA route. Let's focus on the question at hand: will the wines in the
Official Olympic Stores be real Canadian VQA wines, will Vincor honor their
pledge of providing 100% VQA wine during the Olympics and for all Olympic
events? Additional fuel was added to this controversial fire as Vincor
ramped up their advertising for this product. One such ad appeared on the
back cover of the latest issue of the LCBO's popular Food & Drink magazine,
touting Esprit (non-VQA) as the Olympic wine. It would seem that Vincor
just might be up to some trickery again and it was time to find out. ...

More by investigative reporter Pinkus at...http://ontariowinereview.com

Chimo! www.deantudor.com

Thursday, February 5, 2009

To Esprit or not to Esprit, That is the Question...

Sign on a bus in Toronto:
"There is probably no VQA Esprit. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life".
I also saw "There is probably no VQA in Esprit. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."