The mechanics of the £20 Taittinger offer

This is the time of year when the supermarkets try t0 outdo each other with special offers on well-known fizz.

I was surprised when I popped into my local Asda and found Champagne Taittinger NV for sale at £20 per bottle, with a maximum of three bottles per customer. I’ve heard from others that Sainsbury’s and [...]

Penfolds to price fix Grange?

Interesting article in the Drinks Business today by Patrick Schmitt. He has interviewed David Dearie, who is the new CEO of Treasury Wine Estates, which includes Penfolds, who make Australia’s most famous wine, Grange. Grange sells for much more in Australia, than, for example in the UK. This has resulted in grey market imports hitting [...]

A name for English sparkling wine – the Britagne debate

There has recently been some debate about whether or not English sparkling wine needs a name, prompted by the release of Coates & Seely’s new fizz, for which they have coined the term Britagne. Here’s my take, delivered in nine points.

It is an important time for English sparkling wine. New vineyards will soon [...]

Ban alcohol promotions?

Would it be a terrible idea to ban alcohol promotions?

I was filming again with the BBC today, on the subject of tactical brands (or trade drivers, or whatever you want to call them). These are inexpensive wines that are dressed up to look like, say, £10 bottles, and which are then sold ‘half price’ for [...]

Wine closures in the The Wall Street Journal

Coincidentally, the day after I returned from Planet Zebulon, where I’d been visiting Nomacorc’s headquarters, The Wall Street Journal ran a feature on the way synthetic corks and screwcaps have taken market share away from natural cork, focusing strongly on Nomacorc. You can read it here.

The article is pretty comprehensive, and contains an interesting graphic [...]

More intelligent analysis from Liv-ex, 2009 Bordeaux and the billionaire index

Interesting blogpost here from Liv-ex in which they show an amazingly close correlation between the number of billionaires (according to Forbes’ rich list) and the Liv-ex 100 index of fine wine prices.

They are smart enough to realize that correlation does not equal causation, and point out that fine wine prices rising alongside billionaire numbers doesn’t mean [...]

Shameless marketing…this is so bad

Just alerted to the following piece of marketing by a post on the UK wine forum over at It’s from Laithwaites, and I think it’s pretty appalling. I strongly suspect that Becca Reeves, the wine buyer concerned, didn’t write this, but that it comes directly from the bowels of Laithwaites marketing team. The original [...]

Scores for wines: it’s getting silly

On balance, I’d rather have scores for wine than not. In a critical assessment of wine, given that we have such an impoverished language for tastes and smells, a score helps a reader know exactly how good the taster considered the wine to be. That’s helpful. But the 100 point scale is beginning to get [...]

Why we should be grateful for Robert Parker

Robert Parker is the world’s most famous wine critic. Since his rise to fame in the 1980s through a newsletter called The Wine Advocate, his 100-point scale has become the default scoring system for wines. He’s also spawned a band of imitators.

When I first began drinking wine in earnest, in the early 1990s, I remember the [...]

More on the loss-leading £4 Southbank Kiwi Sauvignon

A few days ago I posted on the £4 Southbank Estate Marlborough Sauvignon, and how this sort of price cutting was potentially damaging for brand New Zealand, even if it is a great deal for consumers.

I spoke to Elizabeth Ferguson at Southbank Estate’s UK agent Mentzendorff to find out the background to this story. Asda warned [...]