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Majestic Zinfandel Bargain - or is it?


#1

Today I got this email from Majestic:

As a Ravenswood buyer we know you’re fond of Zinfandel. So here’s a hot tip you shouldn’t miss. Not only is Definition Zinfandel consistently a better price – at £8.99 (Mix Six price) – but the quality of the juice is a big step up. It’s made by a three-time ‘U.S Wine Producer of the Year’

The Definition Zinfandel’s all about Lodi’s old-vine Zin’.

So, irritatingly (like the Parcel English Fizz) they go almost all the way to naming the (three-time ‘U.S Wine Producer of the Year’) producer, but don’t.

Well, TWS says Delicato have been named U.S Wine Producer of the Year an unprecedented three times at the International Wine and Spirits Competition and TWS own label 2016 Old Vine Zinfandel is made by Delicato and costs a pound less.

(The last time I bought Ravenswood Zin at Majestic was in November 2016 when it cost £7.99; its £11.99 now)


#2

Irritating, and also very strange - why hide what I’m sure most of us agree are the most important words on the label!


#3

It might be due to a condition of sale - we have certain wines we stock where we can’t mention the producer.


#4

I think this Zin is part of their ‘Definition’ range (a bit like TWS’s ‘Exhibition’ range, I guess)- and often they won’t name a producer on it because supposedly that’s part of the ‘deal’ they have with this producer, i.e. they get a cheaper wine for their customers, but the producer’s name is withheld. Perhaps in cases where the producer can sell their wine for much more, there is an agreement that their name won’t be revealed for this reason.
I think at times this comes across as slightly contrived, as they always give you clues anyway…


#5

Perhaps it’s the producer who gets most irritated by the massive clues then…! @peterm has just demonstrated how straightforward it is to find out who actually made it, thanks to Majestic’s three-time-winner brag!


#6

It’s a ‘Definition’ labelled wine, as per my post. I think Definition is more akin to the TWS ‘Society’s’ label and ‘Parcel Series’ is akin to TWS Exhibition.

Another reason is that the consumer cannot compare prices - e.g. Definition Old Vine Zin is £8.99 and TWS Society’s Old Vine Zin is £7.95, but are they identical wines with different labels or different wines?

Another reason is the merchant can build a brand they own and change the producer anytime while keeping the same brand and their investment in it.


#7

They won’t name the producer of their Parcel series English sparkling wine, but the winery name is revealed to anyone who buys it by being stamped on the cork.


#8

Very sneaky…


#9

… and apparently some of them have the name printed on the plaque (the circular metal bit on the top of the cork).


#10

I think their definition Rioja Reserva maybe made by Rioja Alta. Not sure it’s the same as the Exhibition although my friend is a big fan, I’ve not tasted it.


#11

FWIW, I found the Definition Zin too sweet for my liking and was a bit disappointed. I won’t be buying any unless it changes, although it’s certainly not badly priced. Rather go for Ravenswood, or of course the Brazin from TWS, which is even better imo.


#12

Thanks, @Andy999. I was going to go to Majestic at the weekend when they’ll have both open for comparison. Tho’ Joel Peterson sold Ravenswood he told me that he was still involved in Ravenswood and selecting grapes, including for the Lodi Old Vine Zin.

Delicato Zin is widely found under a multitude of labels and in some restaurants I go to, and yes, I’ve found it sweetly jammy.

Oh, and according to TWS website, the Brazin is another Delicato label as is ‘The Bulletin’, meaning TWS has 3 Delicato Zins under 3 different labels.




#13

Didn’t realise the Brazin was made by Delicato but still think it’s much better. Most of the Zins have ( and also many sins as my tablet wants to write) some sweetness and I suppose it’s just down to taste when you find it too much. For me the Definition is over my limit, but the comparative tasting would be interesting.


#14

“made by a three-time U.S Wine Producer of the Year” was the warning note: in other words it is volume produced to a price - which Majestic bought at a hefty discount & need to offload it - using their rather strange discount model. Or maybe I’m being cynical - I take the view that if it has to be advertised to sell, then there is a problem with the product.

Sounds like buying a pig-in-a-poke. Got to be better off with TWS Zin? then if you are not enamoured you can always get a refund.


#15

I believe Majestic also have a “no quibble” return policy but do find their discounting a bit frustrating as from what I can see the list prices are all quite steep


#16

The whole own label range thing is a two edged sword, it certainly can bring you a wine from a good producer at a competitive price, but as Peter says the reverse is true as there is no direct comparison.
The mere fact that all retailers are piling in with ever bigger own label ranges shows that altruism is not top of reasons for doing it but the bottom line is.
As for the WS own label range I cannot comment as I have only tried two one was very good value one was underwhelming, no different from in that very small sample to other comparable ranges.

Nick P is right about Majestic pricing, their six mix price is often the single bottle price elsewhere, that has become obvious in the last year or so, no wonder their profits are up


#17

I am not going to join in on the Majestic bashing…
Although I mostly use TWS and local wine shops now, I have been buying some fantastic wine from Majestic over the years, and they were my first step into wine inasmuch as shopping there moved me beyond the predictable wines and styles of the supermarket. Like any retailer, some of their ‘deals’ are a tad dubious, and not all is what it seems (I don’t really expect altruism from a business), but I still think for many people I know, myself included, they were and are the first step into more serious and less predictable wine purchases. :wine_glass:


#18

To be fair I don’t think this has been particularly negative about the retailer but a conversation on the role of (very) large producers and the value of own-label wines.

As a commercial business, as opposed to a cooperative like The Society, most wine retailers need to decide how they market their ranges including the prices they charge. Own labels are an increasingly important part of the mix for supermarkets and larger specialists, and it is interesting to see how everyone deals with it.

I like the fact that members are willing and able to discuss other wines and retailers without it being too competitive, aggressive or negative. In fact we are a relatively small industry and we are “in this together” when it comes to promoting great wines and a lasting, healthy wine culture - but we still have our own ways of achieving that and so wine drinkers can find something that works for them.

… and then eventually discover this community and decide to join The Society :wink:


#19

My comment was not negative to Majestic in general, I have been a good customer for many years, but since the take over by Naked Wines the business model has changed and not all for the best, they seem to be losing a lot of their very good staff as well.

I should have added when you see takeovers and changes in operation to a successful business you worry that in the wine trade all will end in tears as Oddbins did when Nicolas came in and completely ruined it within a couple of years and a unique wine outlet disappeared.


#20

Ah! Well, my apologies, @cerberus!:grin: I didn’t realise their business model has changed - so you learn something new every day!
Like you, I’ve been a good customer for years, and love some of their wines (and certainly benefited from some of their offers). I have, however, much reduced my purchases since joining the WS, so maybe it’s my guilt speaking!! :grimacing: