Tesco is to start selling Château Lafite Rothschild 09 according to the Drinks Business. Lucy Shaw reports that Tesco will be selling Lafite as part of a new fine wine offer both in store and online. The wines will be available by the bottle and mixed case at the end of the summer in 25-30 of Tesco’s most upmarket stores around the UK:
“Beginning with the much-lauded 2009 vintage, other wines to go on sale at the supermarket giant will be first growth Château Mouton-Rothschild, flying fifth Pontet-Canet, St-Emilion’s Cheval Blanc and Cos d’Estournel in St-Estèphe.”
Dan Jago told the Drinks Business that the Grand Cru Classé had been shipped some time ago and that Tescos hold good quantities of stock. He also said that the wines were being offered as single bottles as they wanted to deter investors:
“We want the wine to be bought by the people who are going to pop the cork.”
I am surprised that Tesco are to offer these Grand Cru Classé in store! Surely they won’t be keeping Lafite on a supermarket shelf? The conditions aren’t exactly ideal are they? What about the temperature in store etc? I’d expect to see them offered online – Tesco already sell a small selection of Bordeaux Cru Classé on their wine website.
However their prices don’t seem that competitive to me! They have Chateau La Conseillante 07 at £429 for a 6 bottle case – ouch.
I can’t help thinking this is more of a publicity promotion than a big shift in Tesco’s strategy. May be I’m wrong and they really are looking to compete with Waitrose or M&S wine buyers.
Jago’s chat with the Drinks Business covered other areas in Tesco’s wine range as well – the fact that they are looking to give customers a reason to trade ‘up’ and spend more money and that in his eyes supermarkets maintain an 80% monopoly of UK wine sales as they offer extraordinary choice:
“It’s a challenging time for wine – we need to convince consumers to carry on spending – we need to give them a reason to spend more and hardly any of the multiple specialists or independent merchants are doing this.
“Perhaps that’s why the supermarkets have maintained their monopoly.”
Supermarkets have maintained their monopoly because monopolies are largely self-perpetuating. What causes monopoly is often monopoly itself. Monopolies can drive small competitors (both local businesses and specialized global businesses) out of business by undercutting their prices, cornering producers into a closed shop and running loss leaders.
A good example of this is the recent news that Lot18 were forced to close their UK operation after only 4 months of business due to the power of UK supermarkets making it impossible to compete. So is monopoly a good thing? Not in my book. Nor in the customers.
So, will you be buying Grand Cru Classé, perhaps even Chateau Lafite from Tescos? As a wine merchant I’d love to know.