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#46 Patrick

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 05:36 AM

 

 

Not to divert the thread, but does Quebec have a special relationship facilitating the import of French wines?  It seems that the selection in many restaurants is far broader than that in Toronto, and better / lower priced.

 

(Or does Ontario just tax the hell out of all imported wines, while Quebec has a more modest hand?)

 

One of the servers at JB told me that the way it works with either the Canadian or specifically the Quebecois governmental wine monopoly is that less expensive bottles end up costing more than they should -- but expensive bottles end up costing less.  In other words, he said, the prices are curved toward the middle -- making it a good place to drink more expensive bottles.  (I have no idea if I understood this correctly.)

 

 

It's complicated, but you should pay a visit to the fancy SAQ on St. Catherine to see how the monopoly stores those expensive bottles before buying them - especially a summer time visit will teach you a lot.

 

But of course a lot of bottles are simply not available for purchase except at the restaurant for which they were imported since SAQ has little interest in carrying good or interesting wine in most of their shops. 

 

Really nothing wrong with how the SAQ signature store their wines. All the actual wine is in the basement, more or less temp controlled room, and lighting is not harsh for a retail store. Damn sight better than most all retail wine shops in north america. 

 

As for the best bottles simply being available for purchase at the restaurant, that simply isn't the case. Everything bought and sold in restaurants has to go through the saq regardless, and as long as you know the private import group that brings it in, you will be able to purchase it , by half or full case, as long as quantities allow. Even then, payment is made to the SAQ and picked up at the SAQ of your choosing. Also, wines that are bought through private import dont make it into the store, so for storage conditions, you'd need to look at their stock rooms. 

 

General selection in the average store is pretty similar across the board, but buyers for the individual stores get a fair amount of latitude for stocking the Cellier section (ie. wines 20$ and over). Knowing who the buyers are helps, to know which stores are more likely to carry wines you like. If you like premium wines, you are limited to the SAQ signature downtown in montreal  and quebec, but a good % of their wines are available for purchase online. The website has an updated, close to real time inventory or all wine in every shop, making it easier to find the product. The SAQ does require products to have a minimal production number in order to be stocked at the regular saq stores, as well as forcing the use of at least minimal sulfur, which can limit their offer of currently in vogue wines. However, those wines are either available through the private import system, or through courrier vinicole, seasonal wine offers for wines with either low production, or low allocation. 

 

As for the SAQ canadian whiskey situation, the SAQ doesn't seem to give a shit about canadian products generally. General buying practices and consumer preferences have already long been established, and they dont seem to be very interested in creating a demand for them either. They seem to want to get better, but I dont think there has been that strong a consumer push in that direction. Most of the positive changes in what is stocked in the saq comes from private import groups and their lobbying for certain wines and sprits to either be stocked or offered by the saq.

 

The SAQ is far from perfect, but operates fairly well for a monopoly. Call it damning with faint praise, but I'm much happier to have the SAQ than, for instance, the LCBO.   



#47 Sneakeater

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 05:40 AM

Patrick, you are SO lucky to live up there.


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#48 Patrick

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 05:44 AM

 

Traveling companion, upon reading my write-up:

 

Wait.  That was a half portion of the spaghetti????????

 

Well if you were vip'd somewhat, you might have gotten the full portion. 



#49 Sneakeater

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 05:45 AM

No, I know (as a pig) that that couldn't have been a full portion.  Maybe a 2/3 portion.  But I think it was probably a half.

 

Let's face it:  they're generous on general principle.


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#50 Patrick

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 05:47 AM

Patrick, you are SO lucky to live up there.

 

You're all the same. You come up here on the first nice weekend in forever and....... :P  



#51 Orik

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 08:48 AM

Really nothing wrong with how the SAQ signature store their wines. All the actual wine is in the basement, more or less temp controlled room, and lighting is not harsh for a retail store. Damn sight better than most all retail wine shops in north america. 

 

 

On a couple of different visits the basement on ste. catherine was very, very warm. I'm sure it's not the case in general but I wouldn't want to buy anything expensive from that shop. And yes, if you know the import group and quantities permitting, and so on you can buy the wine but in reality when I looked for quite a few wines they were all out of stock. (of course may just be reflective of the exploding demand for natural wines which as you say are never to be found in the stores)

 

The only thing I'll say for them is it used to be much worse, but walking into the average store it's still the case that many, if not most of the producers are ones who specialize in selling to the SAQ rather than in making good wine. Every place with its own problems of course - here you can serve booze anywhere and at all hours to anyone who says they're over 20, and there is no special tax or restriction on import but you can not open a new liquor store unless an existing one closes, and you need a license to brew anything with over 0.5% alcohol in it, even for personal use. Go figure.

 

The best thing with the spaghetti is getting a full portion of the lobster and half of everything else I think  :D


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#52 Adrian

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 01:01 PM

Most stores are horrendous, but good wine is available at the flagships. Worlds better than the LCBO.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#53 Rail Paul

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 04:21 PM

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board operates all hard liquor and wine shops in the state. Until the past two decades, the monopoly functioned like a monopoly, with state employees often disinterested in their tasks.  Under former chairman Jon Newman, the emphasis switched to actually selling booze, and show casing interesting wines.

 

On principle, I'm not a fan of provincial or state monopolies, but PA has made a transition to retail, with interested and enthusiastic employees.

 

 

(I can split this part of the thread into a separate discussion of alcohol monopolies if there's an interest.)


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#54 Sneakeater

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 10:47 PM

Patrick, you are SO lucky to live up there.

 
You're all the same. You come up here on the first nice weekend in forever and....... :P


Yeah, everybody talks about how freezing Montreal is. But in my experience, in the middle of February it's like Spring.

It was funny to watch all the locals continue to wear their subzero-competent parkas when it was 50 degrees F out. It was like, "we're Montrealers in February and we're gonna dress like this no matter how warm it is."
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#55 Adrian

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:16 PM

That's actually weird - my experience is and was the opposite - everyone can't wait to strip down vs. in NYC where I'm always wondering why anyone ever buys a goose, let alone ever thinks they need to wear it.

Where's the rest of the write up.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#56 Patrick

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 12:15 AM

 

 

Patrick, you are SO lucky to live up there.

 
You're all the same. You come up here on the first nice weekend in forever and....... :P

 


Yeah, everybody talks about how freezing Montreal is. But in my experience, in the middle of February it's like Spring.

It was funny to watch all the locals continue to wear their subzero-competent parkas when it was 50 degrees F out. It was like, "we're Montrealers in February and we're gonna dress like this no matter how warm it is."

 

You missed the 20+ cm snowfall earlier that week. Not to mention you would be singing a different tune if you were in town the previous weekend. Our spring clothing is buried deep in our drawers and closets. Once mid march hits, you would see some people out in shorts. We know it's too early to hope for continued spring weather.



#57 Wilfrid

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 12:50 AM

I wish Joe Beef would open an ersatz branch in Vegas.

(It hasn't, has it?)

#58 Sneakeater

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 05:37 AM

NYC where I'm always wondering why anyone ever buys a goose, let alone ever thinks they need to wear it.


Doesn't that explain it? The height of conspicuous consumption.
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#59 Sneakeater

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 05:38 AM

PS -- On thing I became convinced of on this trip is that Kanuck is cooler. Those Goose labels are becoming embarrassing.
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#60 Sneakeater

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 05:42 AM

Not to divert the thread, but does Quebec have a special relationship facilitating the import of French wines?  It seems that the selection in many restaurants is far broader than that in Toronto, and better / lower priced.
 
(Or does Ontario just tax the hell out of all imported wines, while Quebec has a more modest hand?)

 
One of the servers at JB told me that the way it works with either the Canadian or specifically the Quebecois governmental wine monopoly is that less expensive bottles end up costing more than they should -- but expensive bottles end up costing less.  In other words, he said, the prices are curved toward the middle -- making it a good place to drink more expensive bottles.  (I have no idea if I understood this correctly.)


I should note that this subject came up at the end of the meal, when I exclaimed that an eau de vie that I had been tempted by, but priced out of, at Le Coq Rico in NYC two nights earlier was cheaper at Joe Beef even in Canadian dollars. (I then apologized for being a predatory American, which I am sure they are sick of seeing. The waiter told me to just drink and be happy.)
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