December 26, 2008 … While most off my fellow countrymen are off taking advantage of Boxing Day deals, I find myself visiting Dave Burzynski at Champane’s Wine Cellars in Michigan (they don’t have Boxing Day down here … odd). I like visiting Dave cause he shows me wines that we can’t get over the border (or don’t get), at prices I know would be half of what we would pay. He greets me warmly and comments, “thanks for forwarding me your newsletters, I like reading your stuff,” he finishes his greeting with a slight lament, “but it’s all Canadian, and we don’t get that much stuff from you guys down here.” I respond with, “if it’s international you’re after check out my Vintages release report or the On the Road with the Grape Guy section - but what I should really do is bring down some Ontario stuff so you know what you’re missing.”
The niceties out of the way Dave leads me around the store like an obedient puppy dog, pointing out his favourite bottles of this and that, a 1999 Merlot ($12.99), 2006 Zinfandels, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Rock & Vine, a Miser-ly red for a mere $7.99 that’s been deemed “fantastic” by many of his regulars and various other treats all for under $15 ... my cart fills fast. After a dozen or so recommendations I pick six or seven to make up the case I will purchase.
It’s time to taste. Dave takes me back to his “office”. “When I got it it was just four walls,” he tells me, “I added a little of this and a little of that along the way and …” he trails off. A tasting bar covers the back half of the room along with proper bottle storage racks. The bar is glass covered and underneath are a plethora of labels. The room is cold, but a good temperature for wine. Today Dave pours us each a glass of Slaley Hunting Family 2003 Pinotage from South Africa that was opened on Wednesday (it is Friday). Dave confirms that when it was opened it did have that typical South Africa smell, but some 2 days later this wine is delicious and spicy with gobs of white pepper on the nose. There is some residual “South Africa stink”, but it is in the background on both the nose and palate; what shows most right now is the blackberries and cassis - and of course the white pepper. Dave confides in me that this bottle isn’t even in the marketplace right now, but he is hopeful of having it on his shelf sometime in the early part of the New Year, and for a very reasonable $12.99.
We’ll be checking back with Dave next week to see what other interesting bottles he has open, if not then we‘ll surely be back later in the year to see what other kinds of finds he can show me.