Monday, February 13, 2012

Checking out the SAQ

This past weekend my wife and I took a trip up to Ottawa to visit friends and family. As well as to check out Winterlude festivities.
On our last day in the Nations Capital, I thought it would be fun to go over to Gatineau and go to an SAQ. I was interested to see what it's like and how it compares to Ontario's LCBO.

The SAQ that we went to was of decent size, similar to an average LCBO in Ontario. Their selection was very similar. They had their wines divided into regions (Bordeaux, Loire, Burgundy, Italy, etc). So it was easy to find wines to compare. Both stores had the big brand names, but they also had different selection. Example of this would be a good selection of Chinon (which I enjoy a lot while in the Loire this past summer). As well as having a wider selection of Burgundies, Spanish, and Oregon Pinot's.

The one big reason I wanted to go to the SAQ was for their selection of magnums. The LCBO only has 195 labels available (Magnums and above), while the SAQ carries 270 labels in magnum alone. So this was a good place to buy some large format wine!
In my new wine cellar I have magnum racking, but no magnums. So I felt this was a good place to start my collection. Hands down the SAQ have a better selection of magnums and other larger format bottles in a range of prices. The prices of the magnums at this store ranged from $45-130. I bought two:
- 2008 Penfolds Bin 389
- 2007 Fontodi Chianti Classico

Thought these two would be cellar worthy as I have done my research. I was also looking at the 2007 Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Cuvee Exceptional Chateauneuf du- Pape for $96, as we really enjoyed visiting their winery while visiting the Rhone this past summer. I thought two magnums were enough.

Another differences in the two stores in price. Occasionally the LCBO has better pricing and visa versa. Examples:

Dominus 750ml
LCBO $144 (2008)
SAQ $113 (2007)
- I know that they are different vintages, but the 2007 was the better vintage, yet it is the less expensive of the two.

Fontodi Chianti Classico 2008 750ml
LCBO $30
SAQ $28
- Two bucks saving isn't huge, but it doesn't hurt.

Beaulieu Coastal Sauvignon Blanc 750ml
LCBO $11
SAQ $15.25
- From what I have heard, LCBO has better pricing on everyday wines. Here is a clear example.

Beaulieu Vineyard Georges De Latour 750ml
LCBO $90 (2007)
SAQ $99 (2006)
- Strange difference considering the pricing of the Dominus.

Do your research before you make the trip. Understand if it's worth the trip to an SAQ or should you just stay home. For me it was worth the trip, got the two magnums. Try it out for yourself. I will be going back the next time I am in the area.

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