With the new year still in its infancy, we’re dusting off our crystal ball to bring you a couple of fearless predictions for 2012.
We’ll be tasting more wines from the likes of Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec—thanks, in part, to some who’ve made it their business to question the absurd laws limiting Canadians’ ability to bring wine across provincial boundaries. When it passes, Bill C-311, an act to amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (inter-provincial importation of wine for personal use) will make it legal to carry Canadian wine for our own consumption across the country and have it shipped directly to our homes. Gasp! What a concept.
Among a few we’ll be tracking down: award-winning, mineral and citrus-toned Tawse Riesling 2010 (Niagara, Ont.) and L’Acadie Vineyards Prestige Brut (Gaspereau, N.S.).
We still scratch our heads, however, over how British Columbians continue to pay among the highest wine prices in the country—also reflected in restaurant markups, which tend to be based, not surprisingly, on the post tax-paid value. Do we expect any relief for either restaurateurs or consumers in 2012? Not really.
The bottom line: Until someone in government grasps the need to implement a viable wholesale price system, nothing’s going to change. We can hope, can’t we.
Speaking of absurdities, last summer we made our annual pilgrimage to Hornby Island’s Spirits Distillery to taste the latest from the producers of emblematic Phrog Gin and marvel at their gleaming, newly arrived German-built still.
Here again I was reminded of the ridiculous, Prohibition-era bureaucracy that threatens the survival of B.C.’s small distillers. Although Island Spirits sells much of its production through the tasting room, some is available through the agency liquor store at the Hornby Island Co-op—not more than 300 metres from the distillery. However, every bottle sold at the Co-Op just down the road has made six ferry trips over a round trip of 200 kilometres—to the BCLDB warehouse and back—under archaic regulations that still prohibit distillers to direct ship to anyone. Think about it. Here’s one of the greenest, home-grown products you can find being subjected to the most unfriendly carbon footprint because somebody, somewhere doesn’t want anything to change.
While the Artisan Distillers Guild of B.C. has been lobbying for changes, the matter is still “under study” by the government, whose legislation continues to favour the major mass-scale producers. Meanwhile, both north and south of the border, a full-scale revival of premium artisan distilling is in full swing. We can only hope for changes to a chronically outdated policy that can’t come soon enough for the B.C.’s fledgling distillers.
The new year always brings a flood of worthwhile tastings, none more so than those offered by hotshot sommelier and cool wine guru Kurtis Kolt at his East Van Wine Academy. Kolt says he’s “totally stoked” about EVWA’s spring series, which includes an evening with James (Had a Glass) Nevison Feb 7, and a chance to come up with your own B.C. blend under the guidance of Tinhorn Creek winemaker Sandra Oldfield during a “Blending Bootcamp” March 14.
Coming right up, Jan. 10, "Around The World In 80 Minutes!" is a fast, furious and fun trip through globe's major regions, grapes and wine styles, which Kolt promises will leave you well-equipped to tackle store shelves and wine lists, and primed to find new favourites, moving well past Yellow Tail. All tastings are at 6:30 p.m. at the Waldorf Hotel. Admission is $40. For more information, go to eastvanwineacademy.com.