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May 21, 2011 06:54 PM

Reading labels

Hi guys,

Was looking for CH. Margaux bordeaux. Noticed 2 that did have "Margaux" listed under their picture of the chateau on this one e-retailer. Is this CH Margaux's "econo line"? :) The labels that read "Chateau Margaux" are noticeably more expensive ranging from almost $500-1000 USD.

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  1. Please ignore above. :) Obviously the other 2 are just from the Margaux area and not from the famous "CH Margaux" themselves. Hence the vast price difference.

    1. The other wine is Prieure Lichine, which is a very fine classed growth Bordeaux in its own right. That's a good price on the 2000. I wouldn't mind a few bottles of that...

      30 Replies
      1. re: chefdilettante

        I might buy a bottle of PL too. Try that and maybe one of the CH.. Margaux. Or buy as an investment and have it on New Year's Day or some very special occasion.

        What did you mean by "fine classed growth"?

        1. re: BDD888

          In 1855, the French government classified the wines of Bordeaux by grades of distinction ("classes"). These have been influential in maintaining status and price over the last 156 years (though have not held in quality across the board).

          1. re: chefdilettante

            I heard about that. And that some say Chiliean wines compare favourably. On the same level or better in some cases for less money. Guess I better start sampling Chilean wines. :)

            1. re: BDD888

              OK, where to start . . .

              >>> And that some say Chiliean wines compare favourably. <<<
              Keep in mind that France makes the best French wines in the world! California makes the best California wines in the world. New Zealand? They make the best New Zealand wines in the world. Chilean wines? No one makes 'em better than the people down in Chile . . .

              In other words, the differences outweigh the similarities, and the wines are different . . . with a HUGE asterisk! That asterisk is if you are tasting the winemaker, rather than the grape -- that is to say, if the "winemaker's signature" is so heavy-handed that any regional or local distinctions are obliterated.

              So let's think about "compare favorably." If you like them, they're great! If you don't, then it doesn't matter how good/bad, expensive/inexpensive they are . . . .

              >>> Reading labels <<<
              Get thee to a bookstore! ;^) Check out books like Andrea Immer-Robertson's "Great Wiens Made Simple," or Kevin Zraly's "Wines of the World Wine Course." Move on from there to books like "The Encyclopedia of Wines & Spirits, 6th Edition," by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, and "The Oxford Companion to Wines, 3rd Edition" by Jancis Robinson. Finally, if you "fall in love" with one particular area/region of the world, get books on that specific area . . .

              Various wine magazines or publications like The Wine Spectator or The Wine Advocate are to be -- well, if not avoided completely, then taken with several grains of salt. Talk to friends who like wine, taste their recommendations and go from there. If you go into a Vintages, rather than a "regular" LCBO, talk to the sales staff, ask for their recommendations . . . try the wine. Go back and find the same sales person, and tell them if you liked OR if you didn't like their suggestion(s). Don't write them off if you hated it -- talk with them; tell them WHY you didn't like it, what it was about the wine that you didn't like (too dry, too sweet; too heavy, too light -- whatever!) . . . if that individual is any good at their job, they will be able to adjust their recommendations to fit YOUR taste, rather than theirs.

              And this is just the beginning . . .


              1. re: zin1953

                Thanks for the book recommendations.

                Actually, where I heard "experts" say that Chilean wine are on par with old world wines was on one of the LCBO's documentary films on Chilean wines.

                In the end I guess it will just come down to a matter of personal taste. Regardless of cost or where the wine is from. Who produced it...etc.

                Still, would like to taste a bottle of Ch Margaux....whether it's bought in California and brought home (could buy a bottle in Canada...less travel...less vibration...and I'm assuming it was transported from France to Canada in a temp controlled environment).

                And since wines can be subjected to changes in temp, light and vibrations....would it not be recommended to bring wines back from your travels? Always buy locally? No matter where the wines were from (e.g. Chile, France, Italy)?

                1. re: BDD888

                  Remember to separate "hype" from reality. Chilean wines come, broadly, in two schools -- those modeled on "Old World" wines, and those modeled on "New World" wines. Be wary of descriptions that are along the lines of, "The $5 Chilean Cabernet tastes just like the $500 bottle of Bordeaux!" Sounds obvious, right? but take out the reference to price, and it's more believable, isn't it? Just take everything with a grain of salt, and trust you OWN taste buds.

                  / / / / /

                  I *always* bring wine back home when I'm traveling in a wine region -- although, admittedly, I used to bring back a lot more before 9/11 made traveling with wine a PITA! I always bring back things I cannot buy at home -- like an old vintage of __________, purchased at the winery that is no longer available in the marketplace; a bottle of __________ that is never exported to the US; and so on.

                  I just never saw the need to buy a bottle of X if I could buy that very same bottle at home.

                  1. re: zin1953

                    That's exactly what I'm thinking to do. Bring back a bottle of X that is near impossible to find locally. I know if I wanted a bottle of a particular vintage of CH Margaux for example I could order it maybe from another province (I'm from Toronto, Ontario). Would need to find out how they would be shipping it. In a temp controlled reefer or not.

                    But when you bring back a bottle or two how do you do it? I mean you won't be carrying it horizontally (bottle parallel to floor) through the airport, into the plane and home. Then there's vibration... :)

                    1. re: BDD888

                      Speaking only for myself, I take an extra suitcase, actually a duffel bag, filled with styrofoam wine shippers, and then fill it with wine and check it on the way home. I did this when I went to Italy, and brought back 14 bottles (all stuff I couldn't buy locally). I'll do it again this summer when we visit Oregon.

                      One can also buy plastic wine holders; I have a couple that are shaped like wine bottles and made of material similar to bubble wrap; I've used those, nestled carefully in some clothes, when I just wanted to bring back a bottle or two.

                      1. re: Niki in Dayton

                        I suppose it won't matter if it's a 10 hour flight home. Packing a few bottles in a suitcase. Even if it's going to be tossed around by the bagage monkey's. As long as you put them in your temp controlled wine cellar or wine fridge when you arrive home.

                      2. re: BDD888

                        Responding in a serious way, I cannot speak for Canadian Customs & Excise, but ever since 9/11, you cannot carry liquids on board an aircraft greater than 3 ounces (approx 88ml). Thus you must send it as either air freight or checked baggage. Checked baggage is far simpler.

                        1. re: zin1953

                          Yes, definitely checked baggage. You can buy baggage that's designed to hold wine safely. Some of these look really good - I believe there may have been a thread about this here recently.

                          But I do what Niki in Dayton does. I have some 6-btl styrofoam wine shippers that happen to fit very well inside a large piece of luggage. The styro is also a great temp insulator. If you chill your bottles before travel and then pack them, I bet you'll get the same results I do ... bottles still cool to the touch when you land!

                          Wineries typically have these shippers on hand - returning from wine country in Cali was when I first used them - but I bet many retail stores do as well. It's become de rigueur for my wife and I to bring a sixer of wine wherever we go now ... travel shock be damned!

                          1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                            Now that's dedication!! Bringing a "6-pack" where ever you go. That's all I need. Small dog. Laptop & DSLR gear. Clothing. And a 6er? :) I'm thinking a 2fer. :) But I "never say never". As I said the price of wines, especially the old world wines from France, are a lot cheaper in the US than Canada.

                            Will talk to the sale people at the wine shops about this. Sure they can spare a few boxes.

                            Googled. Found some here

                            Some are just hard cases usually designed to ship photography equipment or firearms. :


                            There is another from some company called "Wine Mummy" (or something like that) which is essentially a bubble-wrap bag just large enough to hold a 750ml bottle of wine. Don't really trust that unless your suitcase is a hard shell.

                            Another looks like they took two pool floatation toys stitched them together with a space between them to slip in a bottle of wine. Called a "VinniBag". Would probably work better. Running $25.00 USD for 2. Might consider this. Unless I get bottle of CH Margaux with the original wooden box.

                            Also, have you guys brought aboard your corkscrews in check-in? I read somewhere that can be done.

                      3. re: zin1953

                        "I just never saw the need to buy a bottle of X if I could buy that very same bottle at home."

                        I am not sure if this applies to Toronto. It is so expensive here. A bottle of 1989 CH. Margaux at LCBO is $1645 CAN and even a bottle of 2006 CH. Margaux is selling at $799 CAN, but is 2006 too early to drink ? To ship from other Province is even more expensive I suppose. How much is it to get these 2 bottles of CH. Margaux in the States ?

                        1. re: skylineR33

                          Hi skylineR33,

                          Charles told me you live around the corner from him in BH. I used to live there too. Over 14 years. Any how...

                          In USD a bottle of CH Margaux ranges from $500 and up. I think they are 2005 vintages. Will post again when I check the websites for the exact vintages. But I think it is cheaper. Which is why I'm still tempted to buy a bottle even though I've never had a glass. Maybe buy as an investment...let it age more in a wine fridge which I'll buy when I return to TO some time in 2012.

                          Good selection of quality old world wines here....

                          2006 CH Margaux for $600 USD....


                 (comes with original wooden case...oOOOOOOHHH!!! :) Good for transporting back home. This 96 vintage goes for $800 USD.

                          Feel free to PM me any time. Do you have a R33? Didn't know there was one...assumed there was only a R34 and now R35.

                          1. re: BDD888

                            Hello BDD888, yes, I live very close to Charles, we go to shop for wine together too.

                            LCBO does not have the 1996 CH. Margaux, but it has a 1995 which is listed at $1250 !! I don't know which one is better but 1996 is supposed to be better than 1995 (from what I read), and a more expensive wine. There is a 2004 CH. Margaux at $450 though in LCBO, the cheapest of all (as in LCBO of Toronto area), but I don't know if it is any good...I would like to try it one day. Maybe some expert here can share some of their experience with the 2004 one ... too early to drink again ?!

                            I have a R35 .......... in the size of a matchbox. I drive a fully modified R34 too in GT ... of PS2. R33 is one of the wallpaper I got and there is also a R32 in my Initial D dvd.

                            1. re: skylineR33

                              Good to know the LCBO does sell various vintages of CH. Margaux. As I said I've never sampled any vintage of Ch Margaux or any Bordeaux from the Margaux region for that matter. But would like to...maybe when I'm in LA...they seem to have better pricing. Might invest in that bottle of 1996 w/ wood box. :) Save it for a special occasion. Having the wood box makes it easier to transport back to TO from LA without risking damage.

                              One day maybe we can meet at the Richmond Hill LCBO. Too busy these days to do any wine shopping. :) Plus I'm in the process of selling my condo, buying a town home, then moving items into storage...etc. Then flying to LA.

                              1. re: BDD888

                                It still seems to me that spending $$$ on a bottle of Château Margaux is reasonably close to a complete waste of money, but far be it from me to flog a dead horse . . . .

                                1. re: zin1953

                                  May I ask why do you think spending $$$ on a bottle of CH. Margaux 1996 is reasonably close to a complete waste of money ? Is it a low QPR that you think or you prefer a CH. Lafite ? This wine gets a very high score both from professional wine critics and amateur reviews on the internet.

                                  1. re: skylineR33

                                    Hope Jason isn't calling me a "dead horse" HEHE!! And yes the reviews are good and scores high. Even if it is from one or two reviewers. How else are we to gain tasting experience if we don't try as many types and vintages as possible? From lesser known wineries to world famous CH.

                                    SkylineR33, maybe Jason thinks because I'm a novice I shouldn't be spending my money on a $800 bottle of CH Margaux. But as I said. I would be buying it as an investment and to later see how I compare it to other wines I've had. Regardless of cost. Old or new world. Etc. I could be wrong. Maybe he has other reasons....

                                    1. re: skylineR33

                                      Danger! Danger! Warning, Will Robinson -- THREAD DRIFT APPROACHING . . .

                                      / / / / /

                                      Let me see -- where should I begin? In general, or with specifics?

                                      Start with the general . . .

                                      Certainly today, First Growth Bordeaux represent extremely poor QPR. It was one thing when, say, the 1970/1971 First Growths were $19.95 (Pétrus was $24.95), and wines like Cos d'Estournel, Lynch-Bages, Ducru Beaucaillou, Palmer, La Mission Haut-Brion, Figeac ranged in price from $6.95 and $12.95. But today? When (e.g.) 2009 Léoville-Barton is $99.99 and 2009 Lynch-Bages is $169.99, the entire idea of QPR has lost most of its meaning. Is that bottle of Lynch-Bages REALLY *that* much better than the 2009 Cantemerle for $38.99???

                                      And does your opinion change at all if I add to the discussion that Parker gave the Lynch-Bages 94-96 points as a barrel sample, and the Cantemerle 92-94 points? In other words -- and leaving aside the significant and even ethical problems in reviewing barrel samples -- these two wines may be "equals" (both "94"), and yet there is $130 between them . . .

                                      And let's not forget that wines like Château Margaux and the other First Growths are SIGNIFICANTLY more than $169.99! The 2009 Mouton is $919.99; 2009 Margaux is $929.99; 2009 Latour, $1,399.00; 2009 Lafite is $1,599.00; 2009 Ausone, $1,699.00; and, of course, 2009 Pétrus is the most expensive, at $2,499.00 per 750ml bottle.

                                      PLEASE NOTE: for the sake of fairness, all of the above-mentioned wines are offered a) as pre-arrivals, and b) from the same vendor (K&L Wine Merchants in California).

                                      Onto the specific . . .

                                      I have never met, nor have I ever tasted wines with "BDD888" -- nor, for that matter, with you ("skyline R33"). That said, I generally tell, or at least suggest to my students, that they walk before they run . . . that is, to taste a wide variety of wines before they plunk $$$ down on a single bottle.

                                      "BDD888" wrote the following:
                                      >>> "As I said I've never sampled any vintage of Ch Margaux or any Bordeaux from the Margaux region for that matter." <<<

                                      Personally, I think it makes much more sense, then, to spend money on such Margaux wines as Rausan-Ségla, Prieuré-Lichine, d'Issan, and others (classified or not) -- all of which are substantially less expensive -- to discover whether or not someone even LIKES the wines from the Margaux appellation before spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a bottle they may end up not even enjoying!

                                      There are a number of wine bars in LA -- and, no doubt, in GTO as well -- where one can order "seriously fine" wines by the glass, including classified Bordeaux. I would think that this would be a better way to taste high(er)-end wines for less money, as one only buys a glass not a bottle, AND one has the opportunity to taste several wines side-by-side. Especially if the OP were to go to tastings at retail wine stores, the ability to try similar wines side-by-side is a weekly (if not daily) occurrence.

                                      Bottom line: it's not my money, so however anyone wishes to spend their own money is fine. OTOH, great wine need be neither mysterious, nor expensive, and I see no reason to spend more than necessary . . .

                                      That's just me. YMMV.


                            2. re: skylineR33

                              What???!!!! LCBO is selling the 1989 Margaux at $1645??!! That is one MEGA-RIPOFF!!! They must think we Torontonians are stupid!!

                              FYI, one can get that wine in Chicago auction or from London for around US$400 only!! That is, I can drive to Chicago, stay in the Ritz Carlton, have dinner at Alinea, buy a couple of bottles and still have money left to buy some Wagyu beef to go with the wine!!!

                              Hay friend! I have a bottle in my cellar. Sell it to you at half LCBO price??! Ha!!

                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                It IS a ROYAL RIPOFF!! Slight markup :) A 1989 vintage goes for under $400.00 USD. :) LOL!! Guess I will buy a bottle form the US after all. So that's one bottle on my shortlist of wines to bring back already.


                                1. re: BDD888

                                  If you can find the 1990 get that one instead! Perfect wine, if there is one?!!

                                2. re: Charles Yu

                                  Oh Charles, why sell me the $400 bottle wine for $800 ? I thought we are good food buddies, no ?! I think maybe LCBO punched in an extra "1" that the price should be $645 CAD instead, it just wrong, it is insane.

                                  1. re: skylineR33

                                    It should be more like $488 CDN or less!! :) Hope the LCBO isn't ripping us off on all the wines they sell. And not even for a bottle of 1990 vintage CH Margaux...which is one of the other sought after vintages. Which can be had in the US for roughly $1000.00. Our dollar is great now too...good time to buy from the USA!! :)

                                    1. re: BDD888

                                      From wine searcher website, the 1989 CH. Margaux ranges from ~$400 to ~$730 excluding tax (not including auction wine as we don't see final price). $488 CDN is not a bad price. Charles, how about selling us the wine for $488 CDN (good number for Chinese too) ?

                                      BTW, LCBO sells Opus One 2007 for $340 CAD, whereas someone can get it in the States for half price ?! Dominus is not too bad, $120 CAD for a 2007, comparable to the States I guess ?

                                      1. re: skylineR33

                                        I 2nd that skylineR33. One 1990 bottle of CH Margaux for me and one for R33. $488 CDN is what a $500 USD would run with today's dollar. :) Maybe I'll buy a1989 and sell it back to the LCBO!! :) I wonder if the 1990 bottles come with a wooden box. Hmmm....

                                    2. re: skylineR33

                                      Ah!! skylineR33, I am testing you!! Thought I might catch you off guard! Ha!

                                      Anyways, find me a good reason to celebrate and I'll open it up and invite you over! You bring your own Riedel glasses though!! Ha!

                                      1. re: Charles Yu

                                        One day my friend!!

                                        A 1961 (another great vintage) bottle of CH Margaux isn't even $1700 CDN. Sheeesh!!!! What is the LCBO thinking????


                                        1. re: BDD888

                                          Only good thing about buying wine from LCBO is that, with the retained sales receipt, one can get a full refund if the wine upon opening is spoiled! No such guarrantee for auction wines!

                  2. If that 05 Margaux disappeared from the shelf in the Woodbine/Hwy 7 store, I would assume that it's you who bought it :P its been sitting there for more than a year.

                    I would strongly recommend getting a copy of Food & Wine Magazine''s Wine Guide 2011. You can easily find one in Chapter's/Indigo or other newstands, gives you basic info on every major wine region which is easier to digest for a beginner, also teaches you to read different wine labels and introduces you the more well-known producers. It only costs around $10, pocket sized so you can carry it around on the train or use it as a "cheat sheet" when you go wine shopping.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Blackham

                      Hi Blackham,

                      Will look for the guide. How much was the LCBO asking for that bottle of 05 Margaux? Curious.

                      As for reading labels I'm okay with that now.