Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I'm vacationing in Toronto, Ontario or what I like to call the hardest place to buy good wine on the planet. Toronto is dominated by LCBO wine shops (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). This means that there are countless bottles of Canadian wines but limited options from the rest of the world. LCBO must clearly have excellent importation deals with Australia, because Aussie wines are also plentiful but one stroll down the California/US wine aisle is enough to make any American shriek in horror. Outside of a few low-end mass market Mondavi wines, Ernest & Gallo and White Zin jugs there's nothing from Napa, Sonoma, Oregon, or Washington. The perception of California wines here in Canada is cheap and bad and I can't blame them. That pretty much describes the wine they offer from California.

You can find Canadian wines everywhere in Toronto. They sell them at Wallmart, Loblaws, in the malls and even in small Wine Rack stores on Yonge Street, but finding a good wine shop that stacks quality wine requires significant research. After a few fruitless efforts, I retreated to the biggest LCBO I could find next to Loblaws near Highway 7 and tried this South African Merlot from the Vintage section in the back. LCBO's good wine (what Americans would label as $15 - $20 solid quality wine) is sold at a premium in this upscale section. It is the only option for a weary American like me in search of good wine. The prices of most bottles in the store are significantly higher than in the US. I'm guessing this is due to importation taxes and the exchange rate. Whatever the reason may be, Toronto residents don't know what they are missing and I on the other hand, never realized how spoiled I've become.


Subtle oak and cocoa on the nose with plum, blackberry and licorice flavors. Good structure with ripe fruit that opens up quickly. Decent finish.


88 PTS
Bordeaux-like Merlot with South African style. Solid quality at $20 a bottle.


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