Rod on Wine: A little early to celebrate open wine trade between provinces
A few weeks ago, Parliament passed a law enabling Canadians in one province to purchase wine from another. Until then, it was illegal for, say, a resident of Ontario to bring a bottle of wine back from another province. You could bring two bottles duty-free from any place outside Canada (more that two if you paid the duties), but not from another Canadian province. And you couldn’t order wine for delivery.
Now we can … maybe.
The snag is that while interprovincial trade is a federal matter, the distribution of alcoholic beverages is provincial and each province can regulate out-of-province wine purchases. For example, Ontario could limit the number of bottles brought back or ordered online from another province. You could get around this by bringing bottles back in your car or baggage, but it would be possible for the Ontario government to require British Columbia wineries to keep track of wine shipped to Ontario, and report quantities and addresses. You could get around that by having wine shipped to friends who don’t order out-of-province wine.
At the point I’m writing this, the Ontario government hasn’t set out its rules, but it’s clear that it and the LCBO (and other provincial liquor systems) are not keen on allowing us to buy wine out-of-province. After all, every bottle purchased direct from a B.C. winery is a bottle not purchased in Ontario, so the province loses tax revenue.
(It’s not as if people are suddenly going to increase their wine consumption.)
Of course, there will be added tax revenues from Ontario wine purchased by people from other provinces, but as I see it the benefits will flow mainly to B.C. First, B.C. would gain a market of 30 million if all Canadians could buy its wine; Ontario gains a market of 21 million — or 13 million, if you exclude Quebec, as many people there already come to Ontario to buy wine (illegally).
Second, Ontarians are far more interested in B.C. wine than vice versa. A well-placed B.C. colleague reports his impression that there’s little interest in Ontario wines there. Not surprisingly, the most vocal supporters of the new law were B.C. wineries and Ontario consumers. The new law lets us buy foreign wine, too, which might benefit Alberta’s private wine stores and their much wider selection of imported wines.
We’ll have to see how the practical aspects of this law unfold. One thing’s for sure: until we know, it’s far too early to celebrate what some have been calling “the end of Prohibition-style liquor laws” in Canada.
Veramonte ‘La Gloria’ Sauvignon Blanc 2011
From Chile’s ocean-breeze-cooled Casablanca Valley, this is a crisp, refreshing sauvignon that’s great with fish and seafood or warms goat’s cheese salad. The flavours are solid and consistent and well matched to the bright acidity. 13.5-per-cent alcohol; $12.95 (602649)
Thelema Mountain Red 2009
A South African blend (cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, petit verdot, Grenache), this delivers intense and layered flavours of ripe-sweet fruit. It’s nicely balanced, has easy-going tannins, and is great with grilled red meats, burgers and ribs 14.5-per-cent alcohol; $11.95 (222570)
Bertani Valpolicella 2011
This Italian red has the low alcohol some people look for, but sacrifices no flavour or texture. Look for well-defined flavours, consistency from start to finish, fresh texture and light tannins. It goes well with red meats, pork and rich poultry dishes. 12-per-cent alcohol; $14.95 (277319)
Firriato ‘Primula’ Syrah 2009
This rich and almost full-bodied syrah from Sicily is full of ripe flavours. The acidity contributes tanginess to the texture, and the tannins are fairly light, and it’s an easy and well-priced choice for barbecued red meats and burgers. 14-per-cent alcohol; $9.85 (265900)
E-mail Rod Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join him online Thursdays from 2 to 3 pm at ottawacitizen.com/winechat, and follow him on Twitter at@rodphillipswine