Every September, for more than 30 years, wine lovers and collectors have lined up overnight at BC Liquor Stores in the hope of securing some premium bottles of that rock star of wines — Bordeaux.
This year — Saturday, Sept. 28th — will likely be no exception, and may attract even more enthusiasts for the release of the 2016 Bordeaux. Many wine experts deem the 2016 vintage particularly remarkable due to a uniquely, long growing season.
“The result is wines with concentration and power … but with the incredible depth of flavour that comes with slow-ripening. The  wines have a level of finesse and drinkability that we don’t usually see in a powerful year,” says Barbara Philip, Master of Wine and Category Manager for BC Liquor Stores.
Philip can attest to the spectacular attributes of the 2016 vintage, because, not only has she tasted a vast array of Bordeaux offerings, she’s the person who buys the European wine for BC Liquor Stores.
Bordeaux is typically purchased en primeur or buying on futures. Barb carefully selects the wines for our annual Bordeaux release.
Because Bordeaux is so highly allocated and such a famous wine, Philip says, retailers and importers, have to decide on and purchase all the wines — mostly reds but a few whites — about two years before they’re ready and two and a half years before actually taking possession of it.
“It is not a finished wine yet. These are samples that come from the barrel and they still have at least 12 months of aging to do. They are not wines that are pleasant to drink at that time. So, you look for indicators,” she explains.
When the wine finally does arrive, it’s released all at once.
“Nothing else really works like that,” Philip adds.
As with every Bordeaux vintage, there are the ever-present stand out wines that collectors covet and that will cellar well for many years. The Trotanoy ($425), Lafite Rothshild ($1,500) and Pétrus ($3,500) will be among the first to sell out, Philip predicts.
Exciting though for this year is that the quality of the 2016 vintage is evident across a range of price points. There are less expensive wines that allow more consumers to experience the region and the vintage. Philip cites the Chateau Saint-Bernard (Bordeaux AOC) at $25, noting that its approachable style offers a real sense of Bordeaux.
“It tastes like Bordeaux. It tastes like the vintage — so delicious,” she says.
A slight step up in price is the Chateau Lanessan, which at $40, is still an affordable expression of Bordeaux quality.
As 2016 was a spectacular vintage, there are about 12,000 cases of Bordeaux landing in BC Liquor Stores in mid-September, 2,000 of which will be at the 39th and Cambie location.
A week before the release, the Cambie flagship store hosts an exclusive tasting event that gives wine aficionados a preview of the vintage. This ticketed event sells out quickly - this year sold out within minutes of the tickets being released.
The 2016 yield, however, based on sheer volume of product range, offers unprecedented access to the Bordeaux vintage.
“A vintage like ’16 makes Bordeaux very inclusive,” Philip says. “It can satisfy the collectors or [who] are paying someone to wait in line to buy Pétrus for them.” And there will be a selection for people to pick up a handful of wines for under $100.
Participating Vancouver Island stores:
Hillside: 87-1644 Hillside Avenue, Victoria
Westshore: 600-2945 Jacklin Road, Langford
Fort Street: 1960 Foul Bay Road, Victoria
To get more information on products, inventory and the 32 participating stores, go to: