Will we shop differently for wine in 2013?

Marchesi Antinori 2010 Pčppoli Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy Located in the middle of Chianti...

Marchesi Antinori 2010 Pčppoli Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy Located in the middle of Chianti Classico, the Pčppoli estate offers a modern version of the region's red wines by combining the traditional Sangivoese grape with small amounts of Merlot and Syrah. Expect bold cherry and vanilla aromas and flavours with a long, satisfying finish. This well-balanced red is built for the dinner table.

Christopher Waters, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:43 AM ET

The big wine story in 2012 didn’t concern the next “It-Grape” variety or hot new region. It had to do with the way that Canadians are able to shop for their favourite bottles.

June saw the passage of Bill C-311, an amendment to the 1928 Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act that decriminalized interprovincial wine sales. The bill sought to give wine lovers the ability to bring wine purchased in another province home with them or have it shipped direct to their homes. (Beer and spirits weren’t included in the private member’s bill proposed to Parliament.)

It’s a move that brings us out of the dark ages — and provides welcome stimulus to the Canadian wine industry. Why shouldn’t a Canadian be able to call or email a domestic winery and place an order for a case of wine to be shipped to their home? Despite the bill’s opening the door to transporting wine freely, the provinces and their Crown liquor monopolies still wield their power. It remains illegal to order wine from another province. With the exception of B.C., Manitoba and, in due time, Nova Scotia, wine cannot be shipped across most provincial borders.

The provincial powers are working to promote their self-interest — they stand to lose revenues through lost sales. But I suspect that e-commerce domestic wine sales are only going to appeal to a small market of connoisseurs. We’re not talking about ordering bargain basement bottles here, but premium wines that retail for $20 or more. Most people won’t forgo the convenience and ease of shopping at their neighbourhood shop.

A volunteer consumer watchdog group called Free My Grapes, continues to work towards changing provincial and federal laws so Canadians can purchase and ship wine for their personal use directly from wineries in other provinces. Read more about their initiative at freemygrapes.ca

In Ontario, the move to change the way that wine is sold recently took a creative turn. Mywineshop.ca, a link promoting the idea of independent wine shops, has been making the rounds, inviting visitors to “Imagine walking into a specialized wine shop in your neighbourhood — a shop that carries new varieties and old favourites, making you feel right at home as you pick the perfect selection for that special occasion, or no occasion at all.”

Instead of advocating for the complete dismantling of the LCBO, which serves the needs of a great many Ontarians who are happy with the selection and convenience afforded to them, the folks behind the website, namely the Wine Council of Ontario, are suggesting an alternative. They think local, privately-owned shops would complement the LCBO’s portfolio and meet the desires of wine lovers looking for more selection and a more personal shopping experience. Private wine shops are sanctioned in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. Why not in Ontario?

Visitors to the site are invited to build their own dream shop and tailor its inventory to their wishes. The name of the store and a brief description are made public for others to view. Most importantly, the site makes it easy for people to share their support for independent wine stores with their community via social networking sites and by sending a message to their member of the provincial legislation.

Greater access to wine is inevitable. It will be embraced in the same way that Sunday openings at liquor stores and the ability to use credit cards to purchase beer, wines and spirits was. It a natural evolution to the way that alcohol is offered to us, one that improves convenience, selection and choice for consumers and engenders a more vibrant and robust prosperity for the Canadian wine industry. Well-executed efforts like freemygrapes.ca and mywineshop.ca hopefully will mean that this change comes sooner rather than later.

Wines of the Week:

**** Marchesi Antinori 2010 Pèppoli Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy

BC $27.99 (606541) | AB $23 | MB $25 (004674) | ON $19.95 (606541)

Located in the middle of Chianti Classico, the Pèppoli estate offers a modern version of the region’s red wines by combining the traditional Sangivoese grape with small amounts of Merlot and Syrah. Expect bold cherry and vanilla aromas and flavours with a long, satisfying finish. This well-balanced red is built for the dinner table.

**** Robert Mondavi Winery 2009 Fumé Blanc, Napa Valley, California

BC $26.99 (221887) | AB $27 | ON $22.95 (221887)

Mondavi’s pioneering Fumé Blanc raised the profile of barrel fermented Sauvignon Blancs around the world. The winemaking process adds richness and creamy character to the tropical flavours of the finished wine as well as a long, lingering aftertaste.

 


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