Friday, March 9, 2018

Liquidity's new "taste before buying" premium wine club

Liquidity winemaker Alison Moyes

Liquidity Wines, a wine producer at Okanagan Falls, has come up with a clever vehicle for marketing its emerging range of reserve wine: a taste-before-you-buy club.

“With the Equity Tasting Club, we are launching a series of higher end wines,” says Alison Moyes, Liquidity’s winemaker. “People can’t always make it to the tasting room to try those wines, which are $50 t0 $80 a bottle wines. So we send the tasting room to them.  That is the principle of the whole thing.”

Liquidity now has two wine clubs, both featuring free shipping. The existing club has no annual fee and offers members selections from estate wines in the portfolio.

 While there likely will be some overlap in club offering, members of the new Equity Tasting Club – membership is limited to about 100 – will pay $75 a year. They will commit to buying 18 bottles a year, six of which will be Reserve Tier wines.

Twice a year, before they buy, they will receive a sample box of upcoming unreleased vintages. Each box has three 200 ml samples of premium wines available for ordering. The wines will arrive with the winemaker’s notes. There also are other benefits offered to Equity Club members, including access to library wine releases.

“Free shipping is always a key one,” Alison says. “There is a 10% discount at the winery bistro; free tickets to one member event a year; library releases. We have a limited library which we release to the Equity Club a couple of times a year. And there are options to pre-order certain wines before they are released to the general public.”

My initial reaction was why do I need to taste Alison’s wines before I commit to buying them. She has quickly established a formidable track record for producing very solid wines at Liquidity. The winery now makes around 7,500 cases a year and is particularly notable for its Pinot Noir and its Chardonnay.

But I take Alison’s point that it is reasonable for buyers of expensive wines to have the opportunity to taste before committing the big bucks.

The 200 ml samples contain enough wine to support an assessment. “Two people could taste it and discuss it,” Alison says. “We debated what size we wanted to do. This is our premium wine, so we don’t necessarily want to give it away. There is enough in the little bottle to really get a sense of it.”

The sample box sent to media reviewers included three unreleased wines; one was a 2016 Chardonnay Reserve and one was a 2016 Estate Chardonnay. Both are fine wines but the Reserve is a significant step up in complexity.

Reserve wines should be stand-out wines. There are a handful of producers that use the reserve designation so loosely that it really means nothing. Surely, $20 wines, however well made, are unlikely to achieve reserve quality levels.

Liquidity’s estate wines already are excellent but the Reserve wines show an extra degree of care, both in the vineyard and in the winemaking.

Among other wines, Alison has laid down both a traditional method sparkling wine and a premium Merlot as part of the winery’s premium program.

The sparkling wine cuvée, only 125 cases, will not be released until 2020, after it has had three years aging on the lees.

To make the Merlot, she studied the methodology of Château Pétrus, the producer of one of the most renowned and expensive Merlot-based wines in Bordeaux. (That is not to say this will be Liquidity’s first $1,000 bottle of wine.)

“I have looked at their philosophy of making Merlot and why,” Alison says. “It is so valuable. I have taken some of the same ideas, including premium fruit cropped to a low yield, and extended barrel aging with a higher percentage of new oak.”

She launched this Merlot project in 2016. “We are laying the wine down for three years - 100 cases of premium Merlot that we will call Alto. It is an exercise in patience. We don’t want to rush it to market. We want to do it right.”

It sounds like it would a good idea to join the Equity Tasting Club, f0r advance notice of the exciting wines in Liquidity’s pipeline.

Here are notes on the trio in the initial  Equity Tasting Club sampler. The next taster box will have samples of  Viognier 2017,  Rose 2017 and 2016 Equity Pinot Noir.

Liquidity Estate Chardonnay 2016 ($26). Crisp and clean, this is a lovely fruit-driven wine. It begins with aromas of citrus and apple. On the palate, there is a medley of peach and ripe pear flavours. 90.

Liquidity Reserve Chardonnay 2016 ($N/A). This is a rich and powerful wine, with a creamy texture. The buttery, marmalade flavours are enhanced with a touch of vanilla from very well-handled oak. 92.

Liquidity Estate Pinot Noir 2016 ($26). Dark in colour, this is an intense, concentrated Pinot Noir with aromas and flavours of cherry and vanilla and a hint of spice on the finish. There is a good cellar life ahead of this wine: I would recommend not opening it for another couple of years. 90-92.


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