Cheese, the low Road

“What is the difference between a winemaker and God ? God doesn’t think he is a winemaker….”

In blog post 27 I talked about some of the great cheeses made in the world that are wine friendly. The problem is those cheeses can be difficult to get once you are outside of Vancouver. Les Amis Du Fromage and Benton Brothers are great shops but what happens if you live in Kelowna or Prince Rupert ? I realize the choices for great cheese become limited and the options for unpasteurized import cheese are almost zero. With that in mind I thought I would come back and talk about my favorite options for higher production volume cheese that are more widely available.

• Oka cheese from Quebec. This cheese has been in production since 1893. It started out being made by Trappist Monks at Oka Abbey in Deux-Montagnes, Quebec and was based on the recipe for Port Salut. Since 1981 it has been made by the manufacturer Agropur. Oka has a wide distribution in supermarket chains and is well suited for red wines. Generally I enjoy whites with cheese over red but this is my exception.

• Coastal Cheddar is made by Ford Farm Cheesemakers in Dorchester England. It is a white cheddar that has a distinctive distinctive crunch – a result of the calcium lactate crystals which form naturally in the cheese as it matures. This cheese is brilliant for the money. Widely available in North America and one of the top selling imported cheddar’s for a reason. The price at Costco is exceptional as well. Super thin slices on a cheese board with white burgundy are sublime. Grate the leftovers into a frittata and you are gold !

• Here is my wild card pick .Le Cendrillon (“Cendrillon” means “Cinderella” in French) is a vegetable ash-covered, soft, surface-ripened goat cheese that was crowned the ‘Best Cheese in the World’ at the 2009 World Cheese Awards. It was the first cheese from Quebec to ever receive such a prestigious honour. Made by the big Canadian Cheese manufacturer Saputo. Worth a hunt to track this down. Fantastic with Loire Valley whites and Belgian Ales.

If you have any feedback we would love to hear from you on our Facebook page. .

Also check out our Houzz Page for design ideas and planning.

Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers

David Lancelot

Wine Clubs

One of the many ways you can buy wine is to join/sign up for a wine club. There are tons of wineries that have a club or some sort of subscription service. The question is why do they do it and why would you want to join.

Why do they do it ? Clearly having a wine club is a great way to guarantee an income stream for a winery. It also helps to create brand loyalty and brings a level of fairness to the distribution of scarce resources , IE wines made in very small amounts, wines not meant to be commercially released or wines that are in high demand due to high scores and good reviews in the press. The bigger issue is margin. If a winery can sell a wine to you off the mailing list it creates a higher % profit than selling it to a wholesale account like the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch. Wineries want you to sign up for the mailing lists and join the subscription clubs. That’s why they ask where you are from when you visit a tasting room. You are more likely to benefit from and subsequently sign up for a wine club if you are from the country the winery is in as foreign shipping of wine is cumbersome and inefficient .

As for why you would want to join it’s only natural a wine lover will start to develop favorite wines and wineries. Either the flavors of the wines appeal to you or there is a particular memory or emotion that is evoked by the purchase or consumption of a wine. Whatever the reason being a member of a wine club insures that your interests take priority over more casual visitor to that winery. Wineries will often create a special bottling or format specifically for a club. Sometimes pricing is better too. In my experience just saving a few $ is not a compelling reason to join a club as many wineries and stores have opportunities to buy at a reduced price. Join because the wines are rare or because you love them.

A couple clubs to consider. One in BC another in the US

Laughing Stock Winery , Link
There are 3 options once you are in the Club

Series A full cases of only a single wine and you get first choice when each wine is released $ depends on which wine you buy.

Series B Red and White wines 6 bottles in total 3 times a year. $ fluctuates. Series B Red only 12 bottles 1 shipment a year in the fall.
Benefits of joining
Free shipping direct to your door – in most provinces

•Free shipping on any additional wine orders of 1 case (12 bottles) or more

•Preferred access to newly released wines and Small Cap, limited production wines

•Preferred access to rare library wines and large format bottlings (ie Magnums)

•Invitation to winery events, including some Shareholder only events

•Complimentary tasting room tastings and private winery tour- with advance notice

•Option to stay in the winemakers residence a weekly vacation rental for Preferred Shareholders only.

•No membership fees and no cost to join

Ridge Vineyards Winery in California Link

If I lived in the US or had a US mailing address this would likely be my personal choice of a wine club. The range of wines offered in the Ridge ATP ( Advanced Tasting Program) program is fantastic , the quality is first rate and the availability of the wines outside of the winery is virtually zero. They also offer a Z lovers membership if you are into Zinfandel and a Montebello Collectors Club if you are looking for the flagship wines.

Membership includes the following
Exclusive members-only offers and discounts on limited production wines

Complimentary tastings for up to 4 guests, members included, at our wineries 20% off tours and private tastings
Complimentary admission to annual winery events

Member Discount on all purchases of current release wines:

10% on 1-11 750 mL bottles/equivalent volume
15% on 12 – 750 mL bottles/equivalent volume or more Discount applies to all club shipments as well

If you have any feedback we would love to hear from you on our Facebook page. .

Also check out our Houzz Page for design ideas and planning.

Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers

David Lancelot