Wine - Gods & Monsters
The Dan Murphy Dynasty
Dan Murphy is reaching the height of imperial power. They not only want to run the show but by their authority lead by telling customers what are the wines worth drinking. We are the new Evans and Halliday. All wine-writers are irrelevant. Gourmet Traveller Wine, Winestate are all to be made irrelevant. Indeed all other judging as in shows is to be made irrelevant. The ultimate position for a retailer. No other opinion matters. Just do as we say.
These are the words of David Farmer, GOM of the discount wine business. We checked Woolworth’s presentation to investors, and here we find David’s fears confirmed: Dan Murphy’s is indeed on track to become the ‘Authority on Liquor’ in Australia ‘through a stable team with specialised skills.
What’s left? Low Calorie Confections and Fairy Floss
‘I get very passionate about whatever I am working on, I just like creating things and thinking about how they will impact a consumer’s life, creating growth plans and then watching them deliver.’ Michelle Terry, Lindemans’ current MD
We hear so much about Penfolds, the great Australian wine company that releases its icon and luxury range every year as if it were a famous Paris fashion collection. And every year, we read stories about the great Max Schubert who created Australia’s most iconic wine, which he did.
While Max helped build the foundations forPenfolds’ fame, there was an even brighter star in the southern sky, a company that could boast the equivalent of two Max Schuberts: Lindemans. One star was Karl Stockhausen at Ben Ean in the Hunter Valley, the other John Vickery down at Chateau Leonay in the Barossa. Karl made the greatest Hunter Semillons ever, and some great Hunter reds, while John Vickery was Australia’s undisputed Riesling Meister.
The BRL Hardys story charts all that went wrong with Australian wine
In 2003, Constellation Brands bought BRL Hardy Ltd and became the largest wine company on earth. In 2008, BRL Hardy became Constellation Wines Australia (CWA). Changing its name didn’t change the sad state of the company’s balance sheet, and a fire sale followed: In West Australia, CWA sold the Goundrey and Amberley wineries and closed the bottling lines at Houghtons. Other wineries were closed or sold, and workers dismissed. Long-standing contracts with grape growers were cancelled.
In case you think the word barbarians is a harsh label for these faceless people in their shiny suits, consider this: they also sold the original .8 acre vineyard planted to Cabernet Sauvignon by John Reynell in 1838 to Pioneer Homes, which built 41 high-density dwellings on it. John Reynell’s little acre was the birthplace of wine in South Australia, but don’t expect a sense of history from barbarians, or the South Australian state government or the Onkaparinga Council or the McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association.
They own Dan Murphys, BWS, Wine Market, Langton’s, Vintage Cellars, 1st Choice Liquor and now Cellarmasters – is it too late?
We can only wonder whose side the ACCC is on. It let Westpac take over St George a few years ago, which reduced competition in the banking sector. Last April, the ACCC allowed Woolworths to buy Cellarmaster, which increased the duopoly position of Woolworths and Coles. ‘The big end of town and their well paid advisors,’ writes frank Zumbo in The Punch, ‘will be quick to welcome the ACCC decision because these people do well out of mergers.’ We mug punters, on the other hand, can go to hell.
I’ve seen the future of wine retailing, and it fills me with horror
‘Costco’s lead wine buyer Annette Alvarez-Peters doesn’t understand why wine is any different than toilet paper,’ an article on US website Eater National begins. The source of this statement is an interview on CNBC with Costco’s chief wine buyer Annette Alvarez-Peters, who is asked if wine is different from other products. She answers:
‘Is it more special than clothing, is it more special than televisions? I don’t think so.’
Interviewer: ‘Certainly it’s different than toilet paper? Or different than tin foil?’
Squeezing profits out of some, tossing others overboard
Another Aussie icon fell into foreign hands today – Fosters. I’m not crying into my beer, because I never liked Fosters or VB or Crown Lager. Ghastly stuff. I’d rather drink water.Foster’s beer revenue has been falling for years. They lowered the alcohol, says John Elliott, big mistake. Not a word about making the beer taste better.
Let’s get to the wine part of this story: While it was selling awful beer to the world, Fosters acquired most of the great Australian wine brands. The company didn’t improve any of them either; instead they milked some and trashed others and then gave the game away.