There’s a new kid in town and you should get to know its initials --- ICWA.
That’s the Independent Consignment Wine Agents.
They’re a co-operative venture-sharing bunch of people bringing you beautiful artisan wines that are quite simply off the grid as far as regular LCBO store-buying goes.
This important new group offers portfolios of wines and spirits via the Consignment and Private Ordering warehouse of the LCBO.
By joining together, they hope to get more TLC, service and information from the LCBO than they could hope for as small individual players.
Drinks Ontario is the grouping of large Ontario agents and is seen as getting the lion’s share of the LCBO’s attention. As small independents, the new group feel they don’t always hear about everything going on in the industry even though these little guys and gals are actually a majority, some 70%, of wine agents in the province.
It’s very difficult for everybody to get your wine listed in Vintages and you have to be a different animal again to get into the General List, wines carried in all the Board’s 872 stores.
However, the LCBO isn’t the only game in town.
If you want off the grid wines and spirits from France, the Douro or the Duero, call Laura Dijana Higgins at 416 919 9994 (Amethyst Wine Agency, www.amethystwine.ca); for the best of Italy, France and Germany, Mark Jacoby, firstname.lastname@example.org; indigenous Italian wines are a specialty of Mondo Vino, Danny Castricone, 647 525 8466; Violet Hill Wine Imports has a great range of Loire, Jura, Alsace and northern Italy, email@example.com; Wharton Fine Wines offers old world classics and exciting new world vintages, www.whartonfinewines.com.
This collaboration of small independent agents has already moved things forward and benefited everyone within the first six months.
It’s all about communications, at store level and with the LCBO’s head office operations, and getting things to work more smoothly for everyone.
“We’re the liaison between the stores and the admin level implementation, giving them feedback so they can actually fix any flaws in the system. They’re not shutting us out. They’re embracing it as well," says Laura Dijana Higgins.
Down the road, look for more e-commerce online emphasis and more direct selling. Stay tuned!
What am I drinking right now? Tancredi 2012, gorgeous bold autumnal red blend from the fine Donnafugata estate in Sicily, one of my favorite wineries and one of the very best on this fascinating island.
It’s a very polished savoury blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and local hero Nero d’Avola and it’s a full 90-pointer. From Lifford Wines at $44.95 and worth the effort: 416 779 4101. Black plums, mocha, garrigue herbs, pencil lead and black currants. Gorgeous. Age-worthy and lovely now with a fine rare steak. Yum!
The LCBO is offering two other fine Donnafugatas: a mellow Nero d'Avola red, Sedàra, showing black cherry, cassis and plum, white almonds and hazelnut, $16.95, as well as a crisp white SurSur made from the ancient indigenous Grillo grape, $22.