This site is now closed
and has been left here
for historical reference
Copyright © Ric Einstein 2009
State of the Australian Retail Wine Market - April 2004 - Part 3
© Red Bigot (Brian Handreck) Part Two can be found here
Whilst working on this installment I did some comparative sums based on the wine I've bought so far this year. For those wines where there are/were other "competitive" retail alternatives (i.e. not the high-priced ones like VC or WineLife) I noted the commonly offered price and totaled them up. On a total outlay (for this comparison) of $4750 the difference was around $630-$730 or 13%-15% (depending on the alternative retailer) more than what I paid. Even allowing for the possibility of a "frequent buyer" discount at some of the other merchants, the difference is probably more than 10% and is equivalent to a case of very good wine. From one perspective I got the 6-pack each of the Coriole Lloyd Reserve 01 and Castagna Genesis Syrah 02 'free'.
Cultivating a good relationship with a select few merchants will allow you to get the best prices and access to scarce wines, sticking to just one out of habit etc will see you paying more than you need to.
Now on to the final batch of merchant reviews...
Merchant Assessments (continued) (in alphabetic order)
Site: Very nicely done, works well and is quite fast, most wines have good descriptions/TN provided. Secure online ordering.
Differentiators: A smallish carefully-selected "Premium" range of wines is offered, plus some back vintages sourced from private cellars.
Range: Limited, premium-level only.
Prices: Prices are a step above the mainstream bunch of Melbourne e-tailers, reasonable freight charges are extra.
Service: I've not bought here.
Site: Very basic, but is quite fast, most wines have little/no info provided. Secure online ordering.
Differentiators: Nothing in particular.
Range: Limited, mostly mainstream with a few unusual selections, some vintages getting a little behind current.
Prices: Mostly with the pack, some a little higher, some quite good prices, pretty good for a rural city if the shop has the same prices available. Freight charges not listed until you place an order and someone will contact you with a freight price!!!.
Service: I've not bought here.
Site: A fair bit of Flash animation, but works well and is reasonably fast, most wines have descriptive info provided. Secure online ordering.
Differentiators: Coles-Myer shareholder discount (finishes soon), Cellar Club with Cellar Share bonuses, tastings and dinners, occasional specials at a good price, money-back guarantee if you don't like the wine, take it back, in-store pickups for online orders.
Range: Fairly comprehensive.
Prices: Mostly full RRP with 10% off for case buys, sometimes 10% off for 6 or 20% off on sales. Even at 20% off they are often a fair amount more expensive than others, even allowing for Cellar Shares value. I've bought very little from them since their pricing policy changed in 2001. I have one friend who manages to get price matches on just about anything they stock that is advertised cheaper elsewhere, so it might be worthwhile talking to your local store manager.
Service: I've had mixed results, sometimes the wines listed are not in stock or available.
Site: Very basic, just static lists of wines, little extra info provided. Secure online ordering, but it's a bit clunky and usually the transaction is completed by them calling you.
Differentiators: "Specialised" range online, personal service.
Range: Limited, but an interesting eclectic range, they are happy to source other wines or newer vintages than those listed.
Prices: Mostly with the Sydney pack, but a quite a lot of very good prices on interesting small-maker wines. Freight is extra.
Service: Very good, I've had free delivery from one of the partners who was visiting Canberra and dropped the order off personally and very good service securing scarce wines or new releases at keen prices.
Site: Pretty basic, based on the old Liquorlink design, randomly ordered lists of wines when browsing, Vinces Vine articles pretty dated. Secure online ordering.
Differentiators: Nothing in particular, except perhaps a reasonable range of French wines .
Prices: High. Don't know why they bother listing on Wine Robot.
Service: I've not bought here, no response so far to an email on availability of the two Kalleske wines listed on site.
Site: Reasonable, works well and is quite fast, most wines have some extra info provided. Secure online ordering, but it gave an error on a recent order, had to be completed by email.
Differentiators: Winepros connection.
Range: Fairly extensive, some Winepros membership offers with a range of mixed cases.
Prices: Generally high and uncompetitive, they claim to monitor competitor prices and keep theirs competitive, but I see little evidence of that, a price match guarantee is offered, but then rendered worthless in a footnote. Their "commitment to you, the customer" section is almost entirely about a convoluted process of returning wine you are unhappy with, with no guarantee they will accept a return unless it's "not of merchantable quality" in their opinion. Free freight to mainland capitals for case buys.
Service: Good (only one order for a mixed case with JH book and Winepros membership)
WinePool (60 Darling
Site: Reasonably good, some annoying auto-refresh behavior, most wines have extra info provided. Secure online ordering.
Differentiators: Used to be the large advertisements in SMH Good Living with some good offers, now stopped and replaced with online PDF versions. Online selection does not always include advertised wines or has a different price.
Prices: Variable, some good prices, can have different prices for the same wine in various adverts and online. Freight extra.
Service: Some problems, often don't respond to emails, credit card debited immediately (works out Ok sometimes, they have honoured mistaken low prices because they've completed the financial transaction), sometimes a two-week wait for delivery. I'd probably buy more from them if they could sort out the problems they have and get the service up to acceptable levels, mostly I just use their adverts for price-matches now.
Site: Fairly basic, but works Ok and is quite fast, lots of scrolling through wine lists due to excessive blank space between entries, most wines have info provided. Secure online ordering.
Differentiators: Relentless engagement with customers via online forum, weekly email offers, dinners etc. "Free" freight Australia wide now. Used to have quite sharp pricing in the early days a few years back, but mainly "me-too" now with the rest of the Melbourne bunch, with some sweeteners in weekly specials and loyalty deals.
Range: Fairly extensive and interesting range.
Prices: Advertised prices are mostly similar to the rest of the independent Melbourne internet retailers, a few very good prices, but also some high-end/scarce wines are quite highly priced compared to alternatives. May be negotiable if you buy frequently enough. I've not had any difficulty getting same and often better prices elsewhere since I stopped buying here.
Service: Very good, nearly all wine offered is in stock and delivery is usually overnight-next day. Regular buyers just order by email, used to offer extra discounts for frequent-buyers, I assume they still do.
That's all for now, I'll do an update in 6 months or so or sooner if things change significantly, keep checking the RBG page in the interim.
Please keep contributing.