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The top 5 wine agents in Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / June 26, 2013

Wine Agents TorontoPurchasing wine through Toronto agencies won't appeal to the customer looking for the cheapest and easiest thing, but for those who identify as enthusiasts, are willing to buy by the case, and who like the idea of by-passing the LCBO experience, there's actually a lot to like about deal with a wine agent. While they typically carry higher end wines, there are plenty of sub $15 bottles available, many of which represent the best bang for your buck in their so-called weight class. There's a reason why so many restaurants opt to deal with agencies; they often source the best wine.

It's also become much easier for the independent consumer to shop at most wine agent over the last few years. With the e-newsletters advertising new stock, home delivery, and more exposure in general, the wine agent has emerged as a viable alternative to the LCBO. Here are five Toronto-based agencies that should be on your list should decide to go this route when buying wine.

Lifford
Around since 1978, Lifford is one of the biggest wine agencies in Canada, moving 800,000 cases a year through the LCBO and its other various buyers. What makes Lifford a good option for the independent consumer, however, is the accessibility of its portfolio of wines online. Easily searchable by price, country and brand, it's easier to find stock here than it is on the LCBO's website (for example). Plus there's lots of excellent stock in the $15-20 price range.

Hobbs & Co.
Hobb & Co. is considerably smaller than Lifford, but that's not necessarily a bad thing for the private consumer. They still offer a diverse selection of wines from around the world — with lots to choose from in the crucial sub $20 category — and make their wines easy to search via an online database. I like Hobbs & Co. because I've been consistently impressed with the producers that they have relationships with.

Perugini
If Italian wine is your thing, then Perugini is a wine agent you'll want to get know. Although not as easy to purchase from as some of the other big agents on the list (it's best to use email for up-to-date product and price lists), the variety of consignment wines not available at the LCBO should be very enticing to Italian wine fans. It's the focus on sourcing this otherwise hard to find wines that makes the agency option intriguing in the first place, isn't it?

Le Caviste Wine Importers
To the degree that Perugini is a place to go for Italian wines, the same is true of Le Caviste for the wines of France. Run by Marcel Réthoré, the agency focuses exclusively on French wine with a specific focus on the Loire Valley. Part of the reason to use a wine agent is the expertise of those selling you the wine, which often isn't all that inspring at the LCBO. In that capacity, Réthoré is a great resource for French wine lovers.

Rogers & Company
With roots that stretch back to 1984 and a portfolio that's 50 producers strong, Rogers & Company is one of the better mid-sized local wine agents. Quality comes first here (as it should), but you'll still find a healthy dose of wines in what I'd call the affordable bracket. That said, this agent will likely be of most interest to the veteran wine buyer with deep pockets who's after top level wines from the Napa Valley and France.

BONUS

30.50 Imports / WineWire
Run by Nelson Abreu, who's also behind Wine Wire, 30.50 Imports has a stable of producers with some seriously intriguing wine, some of which is the very definition of small batch (think less than 1,000 cases). The mailing list is a good way to get info on upcoming releases that might be of interest to the budding sommelier. If it's selection you're after, on the other hand, it makes sense to head on over to WineWire, which works with a variety of wine agents to build a portfolio of wines not available at the LCBO.

Other Local Wine Agents of Note:

See Also:

The top 5 wine delivery services for Toronto

Thanks to the New Listerine UltraClean for sponsoring our wine-soaked adventures.

Discussion

12 Comments

W. K. Lis / June 26, 2013 at 03:07 pm
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Case of Baby Duck please.
TheBlueNun replying to a comment from W. K. Lis / June 26, 2013 at 08:46 pm
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HAHAHAHAHA I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE!!
EricM / June 27, 2013 at 08:53 am
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If the LCBO was privatized there could be actual stores that sold these and a thing like a 'wine agent' wouldn't be needed. Government could still apply taxes and everything... what do we have and LCBO again?
EricM replying to a comment from EricM / June 27, 2013 at 08:55 am
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Eesh.. I'll have another eye opener. But you get the drift.
Chris McLean / June 27, 2013 at 11:12 am
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Derek,

Thank you for inclusion in the list. Very flattering. However, just to clarify, Rogers & Company currently represents over 90 producers with year-round availability, 38 from California alone, with another 15 or so producers that we offer to Vintages.

All the best.
Maisie / June 28, 2013 at 06:31 am
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Another one (small but lovely) is Arthuer Sellers & Company. I am fairly certain that they deal almost exclusively with French wines. I've had great experiences with them.
Maisie / June 28, 2013 at 06:33 am
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Ugh, sorry- I mean ARTHUR Sellers and Company
Post rd. / June 30, 2013 at 09:47 am
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Too bad nobody on this site will ever use these services. Too many cheap hipsters who rent autoshare and ride their bicycles. This would be great on post city magazine, give them a shout.
vino / March 12, 2014 at 12:24 pm
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clearly , you know nothing about the best agents
chianti Breath / March 14, 2014 at 10:27 am
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I wonder if there were other agencies you might know about?
IE
Small wine makers, Stem wine group, Halpern, etc and care to comment on? I am an old world wine lover with little time for bargain wines from Chile or US.
and what about readily available wine for purchase within the week that are not in the LCBO stores.
CB
ray / May 21, 2014 at 11:41 am
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Hello, can anyone tell me how or who can bring in Buckfast Tonic Wine into ontario. I am looking to purchase 12 bottles but no clue where or from whom I can buy from.
thank you
ray

Barry / August 5, 2014 at 03:24 pm
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LCBO should just fucking die.
While these agents are much better than LCBO, to be honest, their portfolio list(not their fault) reads more like a moderate US restaurant wine list. Canada is clearly the worst developed country in the world when it comes to wine appreciation, due to the greediness of the gov.

Politicians behind LCBO should just fuck themselves and burn forever in hell.

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