How will this affect consumers? That has yet to be determined.Earlier this week, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan purchased the Canadian wine business of Constellation Brands. Constellation Brands is one of the largest wine producers in the world. But, more importantly, they are the owners of Jackson-Triggs, Inniskillin, and 163 Wine Rack stores across the province.
In short, Canadian wineries are now returning to Canadian ownership. The sale is expected to be completed before the end of 2016, and this announcement comes two weeks before wine is supposed to hit the shelves of grocery stores.
What isn’t clear is how this sale is going to affect consumers. The same day the Canadian sale was announced, Constellation also purchased Charles Smith wines based in Walla Walla, Wash. You have probably seen Kung Fu Girl Riesling and Boom Boom! Syrah on the vintages shelves. It’s clear that Constellation is looking to corner the millennial market with this acquisition.
I can only speculate, but Ontario leaves limited space for market growth. Constellation is forced to work within the confines of the LCBO, which means they can acquire as many amazing brands as they like, but it doesn’t guarantee that these products will make it to the shelves of the LCBO.
I would also like to point out that even with a global reach, Constellation was only able to take baby steps in getting products from their Canadian properties available across the country. I can’t remember the last time I saw a bottle from Inniskillin from the Okanagan.
One thing to be cautiously optimistic about is the fact that the teachers are a very influential lobby with the provincial government. The OTPP will want to make sure its investment is going to be worthwhile.
I can only hope that this means we will see some pressure put on the government to allow the local properties to thrive. Only time will tell as the dust settles on this sale, but I can dream, right?
2013 Domaine Queylus Tradition Chardonnay – Vintages 417774 – $24.95 – ****+ –
The quality of chardonnay at this price from Ontario is mind-blowing these days. Beautifully complex with vanilla and butterscotch layered over apples and peaches. Flavours match the nose and bring a nice hint of baking spice on the finish. 2013 was not a hot summer in Niagara, but this wine will have you convinced that we had nothing but sunshine. The finish just might be the best part about this wine—it leaves clean and with a slight mineral note. This just leaves your mouth begging for the next sip.
2014 Keint-He Portage Pinot Noir – Vintages 373415 – $30.00 – ****+ –
I love when my pinot noir smells like flowers. Heavy violet aromas over fresh ripe red cherries climb out of the glass. This wine dances on the palate light on its feet, but there is a nice concentration of flavours. There’s nice acidity to this wine, but the heavy floral aromas and mossy forest floor linger for a bit on the finish.
2013 Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Franc – Vintages 275958 – $21.95 – **** –
I submit this wine as evidence that we should be flying the Franc flag high over the vineyards of Ontario. 2013 was a fairly typical summer in Niagara and this is reflected well in the bottle. This is not a wine that needs to spend time in your cellar; it’s drinking great right now and will be a perfect match for some heartier cuisine as we head into cold weather. I have a hard time cooking with wines that I really enjoy, but it’s important that if you have a recipe that calls for red wine, you’re using something tasty. This will be at home in your beef stews or sauces. It will be even more at home in your glass. There is nice raspberry, cherry, cranberry, and a nice savoury note that is like roasting red pepper.
2014 Fielding Estate Bottled Riesling – Vintages 251439 – $19.95 – **** –
Chalk and lime in equal proportions climb their way out of the glass from this intense wine. The bright, crisp laser-beam-focused acidity (see what I did there? Look at all those adjectives.) hits the palate hard and brings a whole lotta citrus flavours. There is just a hint of lemon zest that helps cement the flavours in your mouth. This wine is balanced and will find its way into my kitchen with perogies, choucroute garni, and raclette. Basically, this is something that will help cut through some hearty eastern European cuisine.