Friday, October 27, 2023

Wine Tasting - Supermarket or Independent?

WASP (Wine Appreciation Society, Penrith), Roundthorn Country House Hotel, Penrith. Thursday 26-October-2023.

It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly a year since we went to a WASP tasting, but that’s what happens when you spend half the year in Italy and the other half with diary clashes which prevented us from attending. It was good to be back.

The topic was “Supermarket or Independent?” The presenter, Nick Shill, was an independent wine merchant, now retired. As well as presenting the wines, throughout the evening he talked us through the very interesting economics of wine. I knew about the contribution of duty, bottling and VAT that impact on the shelf price and how little of the cost of cheaper bottles is actually wine. 

What was less obvious was the effect of including the profit margin in that equation. Supermarkets can afford to sell wine at lower margins (around 10%) because of economies of scale and they have other products around the store that make up for it. If the only thing you sell is wine, then you do not have that luxury so independents tend to work on around 30% margin. Using supermarket margins, you would have to shift an awful lot of bottles to make an independent store economically viable.

The wines were in pairs each having one from a supermarket and one from Corney and Barrow an independent merchant.

Mary’s star rating and notes:

1. Organic Pinot Grigio Terre Siciliane (Lidl) 12% £6.99

  • v.light nose
  • not much flavour, thin

2. Sanziana Pinot Grigio Recas Cremele Romania (Corney and Barrow). 12.5% £9.50 

  • Richer, more full-bodied nose
  • Medium dry, appley, nutty
  • Good acidity, some length

3. Limestone Coast Chardonnay Australia (Aldi) 13.5% £7.49 

  • Minerally on nose
  • Rich, melon, nutty, minerally, ripe
  • Not much acidity

4. Nelson Estate Chardonnay South Africa (Corney and Barrow) 11.5% £19.50 

  • Powerful, oaky, tropical fruit, toffee nose
  • Rich, powerful, toffee, tropical fruit 
  • Good length, good balance
  • Paarl, barrel fermented, natural yeast

5. Il Caretto Sangiovese Puglia Italy (Corney and Barrow) 12% £9.50 

  • Cherry, green notes on the nose
  • Good fruit, balanced
  • Some length

6. Purato Organic Nero D'Avola Sicilia (Premier) 13.5% £9.90 

  • Slight mushroom, plummy
  • Some tannins, fruity, balanced, smooth
  • Good length

7. Belezos Rioja Crianza Spain (Corney and Barrow) ??% £14.30 

  • Deep red fruit, some spice, green notes
  • Powerful flavours, vanilla, fruit,
  • Soft tannins, v. good length
  • 100% Tempranillo

8. Cepa Allegro Rioja Reserva Spain 2017 (Sainsbury's) ??% £9.50 

  • Closed nose,
  • Some fruit (less than above)
  • Light, short

There were winning wines on both sides so no clear answer to the supermarket or independent question. One factor to bear in mind is that independents support small, interesting wine makers who do not have the scale to sell to the larger supermarkets.

At the end of the presentation there is a draw for the raffle. Prize are bottles of wine, no surprise there. We arrived just in time for the start and had no opportunity to buy raffle tickets. I must have a word with the organisers about capturing arrivals as they walk in or giving attendees a chance to buy later, before the draw.

There is a buffet included in the ticket price but we have learned to have a bite to eat before we head out so this is supper part 2.

As previously we drove up with the plan to abandon the car, walk home and retrieve the car the following morning. On this occasion someone on our table was being collected by their husband and so we were able to cadge a lift into town with a couple of very friendly and excitable dogs!

Looking forward to next next month’s tasting - theme to be announced. 

No comments: