predatory wine retailing?

Update 4.3.2020(4.6.2018)billn

It’s a question of ethics, I suppose. And I don’t know all the details – so maybe some of the ethics are fine – but it’s still a tale that leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.

A retailer in the UK is offering, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, cheap Domaine Leflaive under another label – and of-course they can’t actually say Leflaive, but, wink-wink, it’s Leflaive. That’s how their sales-pitch goes. But why would anyone offer relabelled Leflaive for cheap? Well, for a start there are endless reports on the internet of oxidised wine coming from that domaine since the start of the 2000s, and the tacit acceptance of that by the domaine, by recently changing to DIAM seals in order to combat that.

Of-course, if the retailer is standing behind every bottle, and replacing them if faulty – for instance oxidised – then, to my mind, there is at least the basis for a transaction. But even if that is the case, what about bottles found to be oxidised in another 2 years, or 5, or…

Then of-course we have reason to question the ethics of the producer – assuming that the domaine actually knows what the merchant is doing – and, of-course, why they are doing it! The why is important, because historically, wine with a provenance of being sourced direct from a domaine usually has a premium – not comes (wink-wink) at half price – for that reason I think it may not be the domaine at work. I have seen some suggestion that wine may be from a family member, not actually the domaine itself – then we would have to assume the corks still show the original producer’s name – unlike the labels – if not, why the need to change the corks?

It’s a can of worms, no mistake. I’ll leave you to make up your own minds:

Dear XXX
I am very pleased to let you know I have access to parcels of one of the most exciting opportunities we’ve ever seen come out of Burgundy. Grand & 1er Cru whites, made by one of the region’s great domaines, kept in their cellars for years and re-labelled as Joseph Paget earlier this year. We’re not allowed to say who they’re from, but only one producer makes all of these and in terms of White Burgundy, it doesn’t get any better.
The demand among Burgundy collectors across the globe who recognised what this parcel represents was rapid and meant that 75% of the stocks have sold. I am therefore delighted to present what is left; a handful of cases from the Grand Crus of Chevalier, Batard and Bienvenues Batard Montrachet and 1er Crus from Pucelles and (here’s a big potential clue to the origin) Puligny Montrachet Les Clavoillons.
As this parcel is, to our knowledge, a complete one-off once these remaining cases are sold there will never be more. This is all there is and all there ever will be so if you’d like some, now is the time. I am delighted to offer:
[No need to give you the (low) prices – Bill]
Offered subject to final confirmation.
Many thanks,
Kind regards,
XXX | Private Client Account Manager

[Edit: The wines had been recorked and are now ‘generic.’ The domaine were pretty unhappy when they heard about this. They want to underline that it has absolutely nothing to do with them and that they are pretty unhappy with this type of ‘publicity!’]

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There is one response to “predatory wine retailing?”

  1. Philip Connolly4th June 2018 at 1:38 pmPermalinkReply

    Interesting, I have half a dozen bottles of “wink, wink” d’Yquem. Who knows what it is?

    W.r.t. Leflaive I’ve never understood why the Domaine wines command such a premium – they’ve never tasted that special to me. And as for rapport, qualité, prix…

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