Once in awhile, not often, I start to organize a tasting of Cellared In Canada (CIC) wines… but I’m so averse to the practice of importing offshore wines and blending them in volume production runs with local wines I quickly shrug it off. And as I think about it there are many more reasons: appearing to legitimize labelling a non-Canadian product as Canadian, encouraging something so detrimental to local vintners and to the international reputation of Canadian wines… and even more: the larger carbon footprint of tankered in juices, Niagara crops left on the vines supplanted by offshore juices. On a recent Niagara trip a vintner suggested CIC wines should at the very least be shelved in the imported section to lessen the inference of their being local. The LCBO does the exact opposite - shelving CICs with VQA wines perpetuating the illusion of legitimacy. When the motivation is profit, ethics come last - and please don’t tell me…‘but I like them! And they’re cheaper!’ If CICs weren’t around we’d get better value at a lower VQA price and would see our local industry thrive.
Test the effectiveness of LCBO’s marketing of the two: banners of CELLARED IN CANADA glaring you in the face in outlets or the current goLOCAL campaign featuring the dulcet tones of Dalton McGuinty weaving a tale of wonder. Can you find the goLOCAL sign in the photo? and Why is the Premier the spokesperson for the LCBO?
In Ontario, selling five times the quantity of VQA wines, the CIC label is a money maker for both the large bottling companies and the Ontario government. Consequently, there’s a strong lobby supporting CICs.
For a discussion of CICs from three different perspectives: an International critic, a CIC bottler and an Ontario vintner, listen to CBC Radio One, Anna Maria Tremonti’s TheCURRENT with host Jan Wong, Part Two (September 25, 2009) . It’s worth the ten minutes.
On a related note, Vincor has contributed their CIC wines, originally slated as Jackson-Triggs Esprit CICs for the 2010 Olympics, to be used as a source of fuel for the Olympic flame travelling across Canada - a more fitting use imho. Vincor will replace it with J-T Esprit VQA wines. Public opinion works! If you would like to show your opposition to CIC wines in Ontario one option is to join Facebook's Boycott “Cellared in Canada” Wines.
I ask you to support Ontario small to medium sized vintners - our Monopoly doesn't.
PS (Oct 14, 2009): The Ontario government appears to have got the message... taxes on blended CIC wines will be phased in next year. Always cynical I'll wait and see.
- Will local grape growers and wineries have reason for optimism in their market?
- Will results happen soon enough to avoid bankruptcies in the near term?
- Will consumers see any incentive to switch to VQA wines?
- Is increasing Ontario content to 40 percent (from 30) sufficient?
- When will misleading labelling and LCBO practices be resolved?
And this is Beppi Crosariol’s view (October 21, 2009).