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SAQ–LCBO rematch IX

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Two releases this week: the SAQ’s March 3rd Cellier release, three of whose wines are also available in Ontario, and the LCBO’s March 5th Vintages release, 14 of whose wines are stocked by the SAQ.

SAQ / LCBO (Cellier 2011-03-03)
$26.45 / $28.95 Chianti Classico Riserva 2006 Tenuta di Capraia
$29.35 / $28.95 Modus 2006 Toscana Ruffino
$38.50 / $46.95 Brunello di Montalcino 2004 Tenuta Friggiali

SAQ / LCBO (Vintages 2011-03-05)
$14.90 / $14.95 Mas des Bressandes Cuvée Tradition 2009 Costières-de-Nîmes rouge
$16.00 / $14.95 Ermete Medici & Figli Concerto Lambrusco 2009
$17.95 / $15.95 Bodegas Callia Magna Shiraz 2008 Valle del Tulum, San Juan
$18.55 / $15.00 Bodegas Lan Crianza 2006 Rioja
$18.95 / $15.95 Villa Maria Private Bin Riesling 2010
$22.20 / $22.95 D’Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz 2007 McLaren Vale
$23.65 / $22.95 Spy Valley Pinot Noir 2009 Marlborough
$23.20 / $18.95 Chavet Fils Menetou-Salon Blanc 2009
$24.55 / $17.95 Cline Los Carneros Syrah 2006
$26.10 / $24.95 Marqués de Murrieta Finca Ygay Reserva 2005 Rioja
$26.95 / $24.95 Janz Premium Cuvée Tasmania
$27.05 / $19.95 Beringer Zinfandel 2006 Clear Lake
$27.35 / $27.95 Château Haut-Chaigneau 2006 Lalande-de-Pomerol
$29.85 / $32.95 Calera Pinot Noir 2008 Central Coast

SAQ 6, LCBO 11.

A basket of the three Cellier wines would cost $94.30 (average of $31.43 a bottle) in Quebec and $104.85 (average of $34.95 a bottle) in Ontario. A basket of all 14 Vintages wines would run $317.25 (average of $22.66 a bottle) in Quebec and $290.35 average of ($20.74 a bottle) in Ontario.

Some of the difference may be attributable to exchange rates. For example, that Beringer Zin has been available in Quebec for a while now and so may have been purchased when the Canadian dollar was 5 or 6% below its current value vis-à-vis the US dollar. (You’ve also got to wonder whether Beringer wasn’t anxious to unload any remaining stocks of a four-year-old wine that’s probably not a long keeper.) Similarly, the Cellier wines are all new arrivals and so may have benefited from the recently resurgent Canadian dollar.

Also, though the Cellier sample is small, the results reinforce the widely held belief that the LCBO’s the winner when it comes to lower-end wines while the SAQ takes the premium wine crown.

Written by carswell

March 5, 2011 at 14:55

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SAQ-LCBO rematch VIII

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The LCBO’s February 19th Vintages release includes 17 wines also available at the SAQ. Here’s how they match up.

SAQ / LCBO

$14.75 / $13.95 Brampton Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Western Cape (Rustenberg WInes)
$16.10 / $14.95 Château Mourgues du Grès Les Galets Rouges 2009 Costières de Nîmes
$16.20 / $16.95 Codorniu Pinot Noir Rosé Brut Cava
$16.40 / $16.95 Tedeschi Capitel Nicalo Appassimento Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2008
$19.70 / $17.95 Liberty School Chardonnay 2008 Central Coast
$19.95 / $21.95 Cloudline Pinot Noir 2008 Oregon
$20.20 / $21.95 Château des Charmes Late Harvest Riesling 2007 Niagara-on-the-Lake
$20.65 / $18.95 Domaines Schlumberger Les Princes Abbés Riesling 2007 Alsace
$20.90 / $19.95 René Bouvier Le Chapitre Bourgogne 2008
$21.30 / $12.95 Weinstock Cellar Select Chardonnay KPM 2007 Sonoma
$23.50 / $19.95 Gregg Norman Australia Estates Chardonnay 2008 Eden Valley
$23.65 / $19.95 Château Mazeris 2006 Canon-Fronsac
$24.20 / $19.95 Palacio Glorioso Reserva 2005 Rioja
$25.25 / $21.95 Frescobaldi Tunuta di Castiglioni 2008 IGT Toscana
$70.50 / $69.95 Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Maipo Valley
$71.50 / $72.95 Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port 2007
$84.25 / $84.00 Château Haut-Bailly 2007, Pessac-Léognan

SAQ 5, LCBO 12. And when the LCBO is cheaper, it’s often by a wide margin, whereas the opposite isn’t true. (That said, I suspect that the Weinstock Cellars Chardonnay – a whopping 64% more expensive in Quebec – is actually two different products. Though the listings are identical, the SAQ’s price is more in line with the price at the few US retail stores I checked. Or maybe it’s a typo and the LCBO meant $21.95 instead of $12.95. Or maybe Weinstock is looking to clear out its current inventory in the run-up to Passover and the LCBO was at the right place at the right time.)

At the retail level, wine and spirits pricing is affected by several factors including when the products were purchased by the retailer, the currency they’re paid for in, the exchange rate, the producer’s ex cellar price, volume discounts, shipping, government duties and taxes and the retailer’s and agent’s (aka “importer’s”) markups. On January 1, the Quebec sales tax was ratcheted up one percentage point. And in early February, the SAQ’s fixed markup was increased due to its now being tied to tied to the consumer price index. Whether or not these last two developments alone explain the outcome of the most recent shoot-outs, the trend is clear: the LCBO increasingly beats the SAQ on price.

Written by carswell

February 11, 2011 at 12:29

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SAQ–LCBO rematch VII

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Of the 100 wines in the LCBO’s February 5th release, only six are also available at the SAQ.

SAQ / LCBO

$11.80 / $11.95 L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah 2008 Guadalupe Valley
$16.30 / $15.95 Domaine Gardiés Mas Las Cabes Rouge 2009 Côtes du Roussillon
$17.00 / $15.95 Tamanohikari Omachi Junmai Daiginjo sake
$18.15 / $17.95 Newman’s Own Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 California
$19.10 / $18.95 Oyster Bay Merlot 2009 Hawkes Bay
$55.75 / $54.95 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Oakville

SAQ 1, LCBO 5. That being noted, with one exception, the price differences are minimal.

Written by carswell

January 28, 2011 at 18:17

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SAQ–LCBO rematch VI

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It appears that 17 of the wines and spirits in the LCBO’s January 22nd release are also available at the SAQ (“appears” because the monopolies’ listings for three of the wines – asterisked below – differ slightly and, despite visits to the producers’ websites, I’ve not been able to confirm that they are exactly the same bottlings).

SAQ / LCBO

$12.30 / $11.95 Beauvignac Picpoul de Pinet 2009 Coteaux de Languedoc*
$15.10 / $14.95 Château de Nages Réserve 2009 Costières de Nîmes
$16.50 / $16.95 Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Palomino Fino Extra Dry Sherry
$16.60 / $15.00 Donnafugata Anthìlia Bianco 2009 Sicilia
$16.95 / $16.95 Tommasi Vigneto Le Prunée Merlot 2008 delle Venezie
$17.95 / $18.95 Altesino Rosso Toscana 2008
$18.40 / $17.95 Buil & Giné Priorat Giné Giné 2007
$18.50 / $18.95 Nino Franco Brut Prosecco di Valdobbiadene
$19.55 / $17.95 Kilikanoon The Lackey Shiraz 2007 South Australia
$19.60 / $18.95 Weinert Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Mendoza*
$19.85 / $19.95 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 California
$22.15 / $19.95 Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2008 Lodi*
$22.55 / $21.95 Rocca Delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva 2006
$29.70 / $29.95 Beringer Pinot Noir 2007 Napa Valley
$29.80 / $29.95 Perrin et Fils Gigondas La Gille 2007
$35.25 / $34.95 Mission Hill S.L.C. Merlot 2005 Okanagan Valley
$90.00 / $99.95 Ardbeg 10 Years Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

SAQ 7, LCBO 9. Advantage Ontario for the second release in a row.

Written by carswell

January 21, 2011 at 15:20

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SAQ–LCBO rematch V

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Reflecting the post-holidays zeitgeist, the latest issue of Vintages (January 8th release) is slimmer than usual and focuses on low-end wines and spirits, ten of which are also sold at the SAQ.

SAQ / LCBO

$10.05 / $9.95 Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Marlborough, Kim Crawford (375 ml)
$13.35 / $10.95 Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2008, Ripasso, Tommasi (375 ml)
$14.00 / $14.95 Minervois 2008, Cuvée Mathilde, Château de Gourgazaud
$14.65 / $12.95 Touraine 2009, Sauvignon Blanc, Domaine Bellevue
$15.10 / $14.95 Costières de Nîmes 2009, Réserve Blanc, Château de Nages
$17.90 / $14.95 Viognier 2009, North Coast, Cline Cellars
$19.30 / $16.95 Côtes du Rhône 2009, Nature, Domaine Perrin
$19.75 / $17.95 Ménage à Trois red 2009, California, Folie à Deux
$21.15 / $19.95 Merlot 2007, Mendocino County, Bonterra
$25.90 / $24.95 Ron Abuelo Añejo Reserva Especial

SAQ 1, LCBO 9. What’s more, the SAQ is often 10% and even 20% more expensive. The results appear to confirm the widely held belief that inexpensive wines are generally cheaper in Ontario.

What gives? Probably a combination of factors. The monopolies’ different markups on low-end bottles. Also, all these products are new arrivals at the LCBO but have been listed by the SAQ for a while, meaning the Ontario monopoly may have benefited from the recent, more favourable exchange rate. In addition, the prices include sales taxes, which rose by more than 1% in Quebec on January 1.

Written by carswell

January 2, 2011 at 15:48

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SAQ–LCBO rematch IV

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Twenty-nine of the wines featured in the latest issue (December 11th release) of the LCBO’s Vintages magazine are also available in Quebec. Time for another shoot-out.

SAQ / LCBO

$14.60 / $14.95 Juan Gil White Label de Cepas Viejas Monastrell 2009 Jumilla
$15.55 / $13.95 Alamos Torrontès 2009 Mendoza
$16.00 / $16.95 Tommasi vigneto Le Rosse Pinot Grigio 2008 IGT delle Venezie
$17.95 / $17.95 Château de Gourgazaud Réserve 2006 Minervois La Livinière
$19.25 / $18.95 Pittacum Mencia 2006 Bierzo
$19.85 / $17.95 Coriole Redstone Shiraz 2007 McLaren Vale
$19.95 / $19.95 Clos du Bois Zinfandel 2007 North Coast
$19.95 / $19.95 Wolf Blass Gold Label Riesling 2008
$20.90 / $19.95 Yalumba Shiraz/Viognier 2008 Barossa
$22.35 / $21.95 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
$23.15 / $23.95 Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine
$25.70 / $28.95 Tenuta San Guido Le Difese 2008 IGT Toscana
$25.75 / $24.95 Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Blue Label Merlot 2008
$26.50 / $22.95 Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc 2008 Napa Valley
$27.30 / $28.95 La Valentina Spelt Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2005
$27.90 / $24.95 Nk’Mip Cellars Merlot 2007 Okanagan Valley
$29.60 / $29.95 Kim Crawford Rise-and-Shine Creek Pinot Noir 2007 Central Otago
$37.50 / $41.95 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Selezione Antonio Castagnedi Amarone della Valpolicella 2006
$42.00 / $39.95 Boekenhoutskloff The Chocolate Block 2008 Western Cape
$44.00 / $47.95 Delamotte Brut Champagne
$44.75 / $44.95 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino 2004
$49.25 / $52.95 Le Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2008
$53.25 / $49.95 Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top Brut Champagne
$54.00 / $54.00 Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha Vintage Port 1996
$60.50 / $64.95 Glenafarclas 12 years old Highland Single Malt
$64.00 / $69.95 The Yamazaki 12 years old Single Malt Wiskey
$75.00 / $69.95 Tenuta Sette Ponte Oreno 2007 IGT Toscana
$99.00 / $99.95 Gaston de Lagrange XO Cognac
$147.25 / $119.95 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Napa Valley

SAQ 13, LCBO 12. That said, several of Ontario’s wins are decisive, approaching and even exceeding 10%.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the new year, when Quebec wine and spirits lovers get hit with a double whammy: the Quebec sales tax jumping from 7.5% to 8.5% on January 1 and a small increase in the SAQ’s fixed markup in early February.

Written by carswell

December 14, 2010 at 01:09

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SAQ–LCBO rematch III

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Have notes from the November MWG tasting, two tastings with François Barmès and the Salon des vins d’importation privée to transcribe and post but won’t get around to them until my head clears from this nasty cold. In the meantime, another issue of LCBO’s Vintages magazine, this one covering the November 27th release, has shown up in the mailbox. Of the 160-odd wines in the release, 27 are also listed by the SAQ.

SAQ / LCBO

$14.65 / $13.95 Lillet blanc
$14.95 / $13.95 Beaujolais Nouveau 2010 Mommessin
$16.95 / $17.95 Bodega François Lurton Reserva Malbec 2008 Mendoza
$19.55 / $17.95 Robertson Winery Wolfkloof Shiraz 2007
$23.70 / $24.95 B Crux 2006 Bodegas y Vinedos O. Fournier Valle de Uco
$24.05 / $21.95 Clos de los Siete 2008 Mendoza
$24.30 / $25.95 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2006 Tomassi (375 ml)
$24.85 / $25.00 Palazzo Della Torre 2007 Allegrini IGT Veronese
$25.35 / $25.95 Il Grigio da San Felice 2006 Chianti Classico Riserva
$26.15 / $28.95 Tenuta di Capraia 2006 Chianti Classico Riserva
$27.35 / $21.95 Scharzhofberger Riesling Spätlese 2003 von Kesselstatt Qmp
$27.95 / $24.95 Coldstream Hills Chardonnay 2008 Yarra Valley
$30.50 / $34.95 Heitz Cellar Chardonnay 2008 Napa Valley
$34.75 / $31.95 Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo 2007 IGT Toscana
$41.25 / $43.95 Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 2004
$44.50 / $49.95 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2006 Tomassi (750 ml)
$48.00 / $29.95 Sandeman Vau Vintage Port 2000
$49.75 / $37.95 Le Vieux Pin Époque Merlot 2006 Okanagan Valley
$52.25 / $49.95 Catena Alta Malbec 2007 Mendoza
$65.75 / $71.95 Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut Champagne
$75.75 / $76.95 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
$77.25 / $73.95 Ribera del Duero 2006 Bodegas et Vinedos Alion
$82.75 / $84.95 Warre’s Vintage Port 2007
$96.00 / $69.95 Delaforce Vintage Port 1994
$133.95 / $139.95 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Napa
$197.50 / $214.95 The Balvenie Portwood 21 Years Old Speyside Single Malt
$271.25 / $269.95 Krug Grande Cuvée Brut Champagne

Score: SAQ 14, LCBO 13. However, when it comes to the average difference, the LCBO is the clear winner. That’s thanks largely to the Delaforce and Sandeman ports, which are shockingly cheaper in Ontario. Both ports have been marked down in Quebec, though nowhere near as drastically, so I’m not sure what’s going on.

Note, too, that the release includes a product inexplicably absent from SAQ shelves: St-Germain Délice de Sureau, an artisanal elderflower liqueur ($49.95, 180695).

Written by carswell

November 19, 2010 at 21:10

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