Thursday, August 18, 2011

Open or Closed?

I was a tad surprised to find tonight's bottle on top of our of our wine racks. I'm quite certain that I didn't buy it myself and Boo is not known to buy wine - particularly when he's tightened my "No buy Leash" of late. My guess is that someone must have brought it over to our place and it just didn't get opened or finished during the course of the evening.

There was a time in my life when such a thing as an unopened bottle at the end of a party would have been inconceivable. Guess this is yet another sign of our becoming just a little long in the tooth.

900. 2008 Open Merlot/Cabernet (VQA Okanagan Valley)

I was equally surprised to see that this is a VQA bottle. I'd certainly never heard of an "Open" winery despite the fact that new ones are popping up all the time in BC. I did find out, however, that there is no actual winery behind the wine. Rather, it's a new-ish product from Vincor International. Vincor, in itself, isn't a winery; however, it was Canada's largest wine producer and did own a portfolio of wineries that included some of the biggest names in Canadian winemaking: Jackson-Triggs, Inniskillin, Sumac Ridge, Nk'mip and international names like Kim Crawford (New Zealand), Hogue Cellars (Washington State) and Robert Mondavi (California) before Vincor was purchased by an even bigger fish - Constellation Brands, Inc.

The Open line of wine is a bit of story in that, while trying to find out a bit about the wine, I found more articles and stories relating to the reasoning and thought processes behind the wine than I did about the wine itself. Vincor is quite open about the fact that Open is a direct play at marketing to millenials (20 - 25 year olds) who are only starting to learn about wine.

It's a moderately priced bottle, $15 at government liquor stores, and a sibling to Vincor's Strut series of wines. Both brands appear to be as much about marketing as they are about good wine. The millenials are great imbibers of coolers and Vincor is trying to gently wean them from that beverage and onto wine. Strut is clearly aimed at women and Open seems to be the male counterpart.

The line was introduced in Ontario under the same Open name; however, being VQA products, the wines offered in Ontario are different from those sold in BC. BC wineries cannot qualify their wines as VQA unless 100% of the grapes were sourced from BC vineyards. Accordingly, Ontario VQA wines are inherently different in that they couldn't be based on BC grapes. My assumption would be that the Open brand is being utilized in both regions to simply try and market a more national brand. Very few Ontario wines ever make it to BC and vice-versa. Seeing the same brand on both sides of the country has got to be a bonus when trying to market your wine though.

The whole concept of "wine by design" may be a savvy business decision. For my wine-buying dollar though, I'd rather look at the wine in the glass. This Merlot/Cab was too simple and tame for my liking. Then again, I'm hardly the demographic Vincor was trying to sell the wine to. I have no problem with Vincor - not at all - but I think I'll be sticking to the more "serious" brands. I'm not really open to entertaining more Open.

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