Dollars and the Meaning of Wine – The Royal Gazette


Pasqua winery in Italy (Photograph provided)

I noted that fellow writer Catherine Burns’ column last week was titled “Kitchen Tips for Cutting Costs” and I’ve been getting emails asking if I’d consider doing the same – so here goes.

I will talk about the wines that I have always called “wines that paid for my sons’ studies”. It was no easy task with the first private tuition fees submitted in 1970 and finally, in 2020, a son becoming Dr. Robinson after 13 years at a fine university (where he now teaches). Thank you for buying everyday wines!

During my job interview at JE Lightbourn in 1975, a representative from the Gallo family’s winery suggested that I be hired and sent to them in California for training. That’s how it started for me. My very first encounter with a European family winery was here in 1978 when Carlo Pasqua visited us from Italy. The two families have sold tens of thousands of cases of cheap wine here since then and they are both very popular and always well made.

Gallo ships four times more wine than all of Canada, or more than 75 million cases per year. They own over 23,000 acres, half of which is still left in its natural state for wildlife habitats, trees, etc.

They own the biggest wine brand – Barefoot Cellars – and are also involved with highly respected wineries such as Louis Martini and Orin Swift.

All this from two brothers, Ernest and Julio, who borrowed less than $5,000 to establish their own vineyard in the early 1940s.

I well remember Ernest’s visit to Bermuda in the 1970s and also one particular lunch in California where my wife and I joined him and about twenty of his top executives, all men except her.

But that was 1980 and now his daughter Gina runs the whole empire. I’m sure this family has done more than any other to teach people on a budget to enjoy a very enjoyable glass of wine.

It was so good to see my old friend Carlo Pasqua on my last trip to Italy and this winery is headquartered in Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet fame.

They offer a very wide choice – from quite expensive amarone to pleasant everyday wines such as pinot grigio, valpolicella and bardolino. Their magnums of red sangiovese and white malvasia are probably on every supermarket shelf and, of course, in our own stores.

Before discussing the actual wines, let me explain why wine prices vary more than anything else.

The wines I often write about can be made from a vineyard that produces two tons of fruit per acre, or about 60 cases.

Wines that are on the lower price scale can be made from a yield of ten tons per acre or 600 cases.

Equal amounts of the influence of soil, earth, rocks, and climate are shared, with a tenth of the wine being the most expensive. Land prices in Napa, Burgundy and Chile vary widely, as do worker wages.

Then there is the particularly gifted winemaker and what he demands.

If you’re wondering why you can’t find a $9.99 magnum here, like you would at a Costco or Walmart, consider this: For every glass of wine that reaches our shores, we give our politicians a dollar. or more to spend wisely on our behalf – yup, $6 duty for every litre.

If you decide to store it in a bonded warehouse, an additional tax of 3.75% is levied on collection.

Can you imagine the cost of moving a crate weighing 40 pounds from Mendoza in Argentina, over the Andes to Chile where it is consolidated with more wine, shipped to the coast of South America, through the channel from Panama, unloaded in New Jersey and then put on a ship for Bermuda?

The Pasqua Malvasia di Puglia has a pale straw color and is dry and balanced with good acidity and persistence. Malvasia refers to a whole family of grapes that probably originated in ancient Greece.

The flavor is delicate with notes of tropical fruits. Their Sangiovese is an intense, full-bodied ruby ​​red color with fruity flavors and soft, supple tannins. Sangiovese is also responsible for Tuscan wines such as Chianti and a special clone gives us Brunello.

If you buy a bottle of sangiovese (stock #8954), or malvasia (stock #8955) we would ask you $15.70. If you and a friend enjoy a drink on the way home from work and another with dinner, you’ll see the end of this bottle. Why not buy a magnum of (stblock #8932) red for $26.70°r the malvasia magnum (stblock #8915) for the same price? Now your bottled equivalent has just dropped to $13.35.

How will the other half last? I suggest you do what I often do with magnums. I keep two empty regular bottles and just refill them with the magnum. Push in a cork or screw on the screw cap and the leftover wine will be good for a long time. Want to save even more? Why not buy a case of six magnums and get a 10% discount? Now you only pay $12.01 for a bottle – $15.70 to $12.01. Wow. At the same magnum price, we also offer Merlot.

Barefoot Caves cost of magnums $29.95 and bottles $15.80 and they offer just about every varietal you could want, including cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, zinfandel blanc, and moscato, to name a few. only a few.

You don’t become the world’s best-selling wine brand if you don’t offer well-made, reliable, great-tasting wine. Again, why not buy a case of six magnums and pay the equivalent of a bottle of $13.48?

Gallo family wines are just a little less to $29.70 for magnums and $15.50 for the bottles. Stick to my suggestions and the bottle becomes $13.36.

Some people never spend more than the prices I quoted, others like to buy a “Saturday night wine” or a “birthday wine”; some even have the chance to drink anyone whenever they want. We try to keep you all happy.

This column is an infomercial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at [email protected] Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit


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