Tag Archives: Wine Society

Who sells whose wine?

I made (what I thought was) an interesting statistical discovery while cruising the internet yesterday. Wine-searcher.com is intended primarily as a place where consumers can search for which retailers are offering a specific wine, and how much they are offering it for. It costs a smallish amount ($39) a year to get the full service; I’ve been subscribing for the last couple of years and find it extremely useful. But it does other things as well.

In order to tell you who’s selling a wine, they need to store every retailer’s entire catalogue. At some point recently they’ve started displaying breakdowns of what makes up these catalogues. Clearly a retailer’s spirits are included alongside the wines in these statistics (either that or Scotland makes more wine than I realised), and probably their beers as well (Belgium and Holland crop up on Sainsbury’s list). I found them quite interesting, especially when comparing retailers, so here are a few highlights. (I know the text in the graphics is pretty small – if you click on them they’ll open in their own window and will hopefully be big enough to read)

You might expect, for example, Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s to offer a fairly similar selection, but you’d be wrong. Every standard major English retailer sells more wine from France than from any other country, but at Asda the USA are hot on their heals – French wine makes up 12.64% of their offering, American 12.48% – and at Tesco Australia isn’t far behind (23.79% to 20.7%). The USA’s popularity at Asda isn’t reflected elsewhere – they provide 3.81% of Tesco’s wines, 6.58% at Sainsbury’s and 4.79% at Waitrose. Chile is the fifth biggest producer on Tesco’s list, but seventh at Asda and Waitrose and a miserable 13th at Sainsbury’s. I thought Argentina’s malbecs were big sellers, but in fact they’re an “other” everywhere except Majestic (3.06%) and Tesco (1.44%), which at Sainbury’s means they’re below Belgium, Sweden, Holland and Mexico.

Aldi, the discount supermarket chain, is a curiosity: here France limps in joint fourth, behind South Africa, Chile and Italy, and level with Australia, Germany and Hungary. Spain, with 4.76% of their list, are precisely half as popular. As you might guess by those slightly weird numbers, their list is pitifully small with just 63 things on it.

The higher you go up the qualitative scale, the more France dominates – by the time you hit Berry Brothers the French are responsible for a stonking 76.04%. And there are still some surprises: New Zealand is Majestic’s No2 producer, but No9 at the Wine Society and at BBR it’s just an “other”.

But I guess the most notable thing is the number of different countries whose wines British merchants list. Here, by way of comparison, are a few foreign retailers. Wine.com, apparently America’s largest online wine distributor, does pretty well (though American online wine retailing is a complicated thing, and I couldn’t find any of the major supermarkets, so I don’t know how representative it actually is), but wine lists in Australia and France look very different to ours, and a lot less exciting.

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The week in wine

This blog started as a place for me to keep notes of what I was drinking, and what I thought of it. It’s largely lost that purpose since, and is none the worse for it in my opinion. But it’s still my blog, and I think there’s a place for some brief record of my humdrum at-home drinking. So here, then, are my wines of the week:

* Domaine des Escaravailles La Ponce Cotes du Rhone blanc 2009 – this week’s sunshine demanded fridge-fresh white wine, but nights are still a little chillsome. So summer’s ultra-dry quenchers must wait; for now I want a white with a little weight. This delivered that, lashings of creaminess and a slight green apple spritz, getting the texture so right that a slight lack of genuine flavour was easily forgiven. From Theatre of Wine, the extremely exciting new(ish) wine shop near Tufnell Park.

* Tahbilk Marsanne 2007: The Escaravailles was such a success that the following night we went for a relative, in the shape of Tahbilk’s ever-reliable Marsanne (one of the grapes used in La Ponce), a fair bit lighter and crisper than the CdR. One to look out for when Waitrose are next knocking 25% off.

* Maury Solera 1928, Case number 849: A rare sticky, dewaxed and uncorked on Saturday night. Remarkable stuff, this. Nutty and complex, a wine to savour and, if you’re so inclined, to ponder. Delicious. £15 for 50ml (from The Wine Society), so not exactly cheap, but there’ll definitely be another bottle in my next case.

My only other vinous activity was an outing to said Wine Society on Tuesday, of which more shortly.