Following the demise of Mark Anthony, I briefly considered stopping buying wine altogether.
But only briefly.
Then I got an invitation to the opening of Everything Wine, the new store by Bear Mountain that I cursed when I found out that it was the reason that MA was closing. I was not inclined to accept the invitation: my child care options are limited and Langford is a long way to drive for wine. In the end, however, I did attend, and really enjoyed myself. Turned out that this wasn't one of those wine store openings where you get an invitation, but the rest of the world is invited too. No, for this one you actually had to be on the list to get in. Very thrilling for a lowly blogger such as myself.
The store is massive, the biggest wine store in BC, and not an altogether pleasant environment to buy wine in. Compared to the small, cozy, and classy atmosphere of Mark Anthony, EW feels a bit like Costco for wine. No coincidence, it just a couple blocks away from the only Costco on the island. Judging by the shopping carts near the entrance, I gather they are expecting people to stock up on wine the way they do on toilet paper.
That said, the advantage of a big space like that is the ability to offer a wider selection of wines. Or you could fill up the space with cases and cases of Painted Turtle and Yellowtail. EW does a bit of both. As I walked around the store, sipping prosecco and running my eye over all the bottles, I thought "There is nothing here that MA didn't carry that I would actually want to buy." The California and Oregon sections, in particular, were a disappointment.
But my initial impression wasn't entirely correct: I did find two Spanish wines that Mark Anthony did not carry. One was the El Cheapo AKA El Torito that we drank last night and the other was the Martin Codax Albarino. MA used to carry the Burgans, which we drink a lot of, but I've been wanting try the Martin Codax, which is made by the same winery and sold at a slightly higher price point. I've never seen that wine anywhere else, so that was a nice treat. I was also slightly mesmerized by the France section, which was large and mostly a mystery to me. This is a section I want to do a little research on before I visit again.
At the back of the store is something quite wonderful, and it is called the Vintages room. "Does that just mean upscale wines?" I asked a staffer. "Yeah, pretty much."
In this dark, cold, and beautiful room, I finally started to see the point of all this square footage. This was where the really special (read, expensive) wine is kept, and I could spend a lot of time in there, though actually making a purchase from that room is going to be a rare thing for me, since the wines range in price from 40 dollars to...hmmm actually I don't know how high they go. I saw some around 300 I think, but they may go even higher, I'm not sure.
The Brunello section was of particular interest to me, since we recently had a really wonderful bottle of Brunello which, while way out of our price range, it turns out, is actually fairly low on the scale of Brunellos. I'd love to try all the Brunellos they've got, though I suspect it would make more sense financially to simply fly to Italy and drink them there.
So the Vintages room is great, and fun for window shopping in, but realistically, I'm going to be buying my bottles off the main floor. This makes me hope that they don't put all of their really knowledgeable staffers in the Vintages room. What I loved about MA was that the staff could find you something interesting for fifteen dollars, or for forty dollars, or for whatever you wanted to spend, it didn't matter. Peter, who has recommended many great bottles to us in the past couple of years at MA, is now working at Everything Wine, so we should be able to get some good advice there.
Still, the fact remains, driving to Langford to buy wine is not going to fit into my lifestyle, and so EW will be a place I'll go to a few times a year, rather than a few times a week.
Where will I go the rest of the time? The selection at the Hillside liquor store is good, and I like that they have a good selection of half bottles. I've have a couple of good recommendations from staff there. I've also seen, but haven't tried yet, Hendry Ranch wines from Napa there. Hendry wines are on my list of wines to try.
The Oak Bay liquor store is also okay, though I've never gotten advice there. If Artisan does open in Tuscany Village (could not find any info about this online) I think it's only going to be BC wines, so that's out.
I've never been to The Strath, but Tobias has brought home Sineann wine from them, which seems like a miracle. Sineann, a small winery in McMinnville, Oregon, is my favourite winery in the world, which is unfortunate, because their stuff is largely unavailable here, or, as in the case of The Strath, available at inflated prices.
Sigh. Maybe it's time to start thinking about joining some wine clubs.
Note: If the title of this post is a mystery to you, check out this video from Amy Winehouse. Also note: if you found this post because you were actually searching for information about rehab, please ignore everything you just read and go here instead. And best of luck.