Wine retailer dumps iconic Aussie label

NICK KRAUSE
Last updated 12:49 08/03/2012

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An Auckland wine retailer has dumped the iconic Australian label Penfolds due to what it says are "outrageous'' price increases.

For example, the Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 has gone up 20 per cent to NZ$84.34, and others have increased by up to 50 per cent.

Premium wine retailer The Fine Wine Delivery Company says it is making a stand against Penfolds' owner, the ASX-listed Treasury Wine Estates (TWE).

TWE was created out of the demerger of global liquor company Fosters last year.

Fine Wine's managing director Jeff Poole claims TWE is using a surge in demand from the "new and unproven Chinese market" as an excuse for huge price increases in New Zealand across the Penfolds range.

It is the first time in 15 years the Kiwi retailer will not be including Penfolds in its March brochure. The news was relayed to the company's "thousands of wine lovers nationally" in the latest newsletter.

"Kiwis can now expect to pay 36 to 50 per cent more for these beloved wines," Poole said.

"This is a huge betrayal for New Zealand wine lovers who have collected and supported these wines for decades."

Poole spent 10 years selling Penfolds in Australia, "largely because the wines offered exemplary quality at fair prices". 

"Whilst it is the prerogative of any business to capitalise on increasing international demand and supply, we view this massive increase as a slap in the face for loyal New Zealand customers," he said.

Many customers have supported the move with messages via email.

The move has also not gone unnoticed abroad, with United Kingdom wine magazine Decanter reporting the protest.

Decanter said several UK merchants, which did not want to be named, also revealed they would not take their allocation this year due to the price rises.

Decanter.com said Penfolds refused several requests for an interview but said in a statement: "Penfolds enjoys an ever-growing demand for our wines across an increasing number of international markets.

"As a fine wine brand we are very limited in the amount of wine we can make each vintage and as a result the increasing demand we are seeing is causing prices to increase."

Penfolds had not replied to calls.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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