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As long as Blue Mountain sells their phenomenal Gold Label for under $28, it makes it tricky for anyone else to sell theirs for more.
Blue Mountain Gold Label Brut, $27.90
True story: I was at an event not that long ago where one of B.C.’s best wineries was pouring their sparkling wine and it was tremendous—wonderfully fresh citrus aromatics, some baked bread notes to fill the mouth and a beautiful vein of acidity throughout. And it was made through the winery’s expensive-to-execute traditional method (i.e. how they make $300 bottles of Champagne). Thoroughly enthralled, I asked the price: “$27.83.”
I paused for a moment and said, “That’s too low.”
To which the winemaker replied, “Thank Blue Mountain.”
Which is to say that, if a sparkling wine as good (and with a track record as long) as Blue Mountain’s entry level is at $28, it takes some stones to price yours higher. On the one hand, as a consumer, this is great news: I have access to wines like Summerhill’s Cipes Brut for $28, Joie’s Quotidian Brut for $25 or a half bottle of Stellar’s Jay from 2010 (2010!) for $14 (that’s half of $28, btw).
On the other hand, I look at the wonderful sparkling wine coming out of the U.K. right now (both the Bride Valley and the Gusbourne are available in B.C.), and while they’re really great, they start at $50 and go up in a hurry. We’ve been making sparkling wine for longer than the Brits have, yet we charge half the price. And while the world press is gushing over the English wines, I’d love to see how they do in a head-to-head blind tasting with our best. Prediction? On a dollar-for-dollar basis, we’d cream ’em.
So why does Blue Mountain charge so little? Beats me. They sell out every year, which, if I recall from ECON 101, means you’re not charging enough for your product. The Mavety family are one of the area’s pioneers, having owned the winery and the land for more than 40 years, so they’re long past having to worry about amortizing their investment. And patriarch Ian Mavety (son Matt now does the winemaking, while daughter Christie handles sales and marketing) has always been known as an iconoclast who marches to the beat of his own drum. But $28—really?
I suppose all we can do as consumers is pop a bottle and make a toast to a family who appear to value tradition and excellence over making a bigger profit. Cheers, you beautiful, crazy bastards—we all drink better (and more cheaply) because of you.