Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Laughing Stock Portfolio 2007 - no rebate needed

In an inspired piece of marketing last February, Laughing Stock Vineyards owners David and Cynthia Enns pegged the price (in part) of the winery’s flagship Portfolio blend to the stock market index when offering the wine for future delivery.

The Toronto index then stood about 9000. It had been as low as 7,600 in the earlier market crash and there was no assurance of recovery in the near term.

So David and Cynthia offered a deal. The futures price of Portfolio was $35 a bottle – but if the market tanked again by the time the actual wine was released in September, there would be a further discount. Buyers could get rebates that would take the price of the bottle as low as $28 in what the winery called “recession-proof pricing.”

Well, you know what happened to the market. The index currently is around 10,500. There are no rebates going out to those who paid for their orders in February.

Portfolio 2007 has now been released with a retail price of $40. Those who took a chance in February at $35 are not complaining, since they already got the wine at a reasonable discount. In any event, their mutual fund statements are so much healthier these days that they can think about buying wine again.

Whether you bought futures or are paying full price, you are getting a wine worth every penny being asked for it.

Many of those ordering futures had taken the option of directing rebate cheques, if any, to charity. Even though there are no rebate cheques, David and Cynthia, on their own initiative, have sent the amount that would have been rebated – had the market tanked – to the capital campaign for the Naramata Centre.

It seems to me that everyone has come out a winner.

The vintage in 2007 turned out to be quite good in the Okanagan even after a rainy three weeks in September (very unusual) caused much concern. But when the sun came out again, the weather stayed fine to the end of October. The Bordeaux varieties had lots of time to ripen and develop great flavour.

Laughing Stock produced 2,750 cases of Portfolio 2007. The wine is a blend of 56% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot. You might ask why bother with just one per cent of Petit Verdot. The answer is that the variety adds an important hint of spice to the aroma and flavour. Any winery making a Bordeaux blend will use all five varieties if they are available.

This wine spent 19 months in French oak barrels, 60% one year old, 40% new, a mix that prevents the oak flavours from overwhelming the wine.

This is a bold wine. It is drinking well now but it has the structure to develop well for the next seven to 10 years.

The wine begins with aromas of plum, chocolate and mint. The fruit flavours are vibrant, showing currants and cherries set against complex tones of chocolate and tobacco, with long ripe tannins that lend richness to the weight. This wine delivers its power with elegance. 90

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