With the recent regulatory reforms in British Columbia, wine prices have crossed from ‘exceedingly high’ to ‘prohibitory’. Wine agencies are closing across the Province or they are chopping their high end wines from their listings. It’s never been a worse time for wine lovers in British Columbia.
A new online venture is offering a beacon of light in this disastrous market. They are called Cellar Direct and offer a wine club that ships 4 bottles of high-quality, geeky, sustainably made wines from Europe every 2 months directly to your door for $80 per month (or $40 per bottle). I realize the model seems confusing, but you pay monthly in order to receive bi-monthly shipments – simple and more efficient for shipping purposes. That price includes all administrative fees, shipping and taxes.
I have tasted many of the wines in their portfolio and they are amongst the best values for honest wines. These are wines you would regularly find in top U.S. shops such as Chambers Street Wines in New York, Arlequin in San Francisco, or Liner and Elsen in Portland. I was thus familiar with many of them well before the advent of Cellar Direct. They include producers such as Guy Brossard (top Muscadet), Olga Raffault (top Chinon), and Marcel Giraudon (Chitry, Burgundy). Because of the efficiencies in Cellar Direct’s business model, the prices are actually in-line with buying the wine down in the U.S. (given our exchange rate), without B.C’s extortionate mark-up and taxes at the border.
If British Columbia’s dynamic wine scene is to survive the government’s recent industry-damaging reforms, it is businesses like Cellar Direct that will make that happen. I highly recommend you join the club both because the wines are exceptional quality for a very fair price and because it is by supporting businesses like these that we can have hope for the future of wine here in B.C.
When you peruse their web-site you will find examples of other bottles that will be available for single bottle orders after you have joined the wine club. The producers included are some of the best values for luxury wine in Europe. I do warn that the marketing video on the website is terrible – but chalk that up to the fact that this is a small business run by people who care about wine, not about pulling the wool over its customer’s eyes.
If Cellar Direct were a wine, I’d rate it Excellent to Excellent+. I know I’ll be signing up.