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Own Label Good thing Bad thing,


The question of own label wines in lists often brings out opposites in opinion, for me I treat them with caution, not because I believe they are all bad, but because although they are promoted as very good value to you the punter, there obviously has to be something in it for the retailer besides the obvious self promotion.
Many are indeed produced by very good wineries, but I always ask what is in for them vis a vis their own labels, why would they cut their own throat by making something for someone else, or are they just unloading excess wines unlikely to sell under their own name, it is an interesting phenomenom and is now mainstream with all the main retailers.
It may simply be a way of getting the casual wine buyer to up market on the strength of the Finest, TTD, etc being aligned to food products with the same label, though in those cases one or two firms make the same product with a different label for all the supermarkets, only realised when a certain recall over foof poisoning revealed that all supermarkets were involved, not the same with wine but you get the picture re the casual wine buyer.
I have purchased own labels and been happy with the, others not so but that is the same with all wines, I came across this thread on a different blog that explores the same theme with as many questions as answers and the TWS comes up quite a lot.


I remember M&S own label, had several cuvees predicated on the (Grand) Prebois (Reserve) labels/Vineyard from the Perrins who own the Beaucastel vineyard,
From decent to exceptional vintages they were terrific and well worth the money.
I can recount the redoubtable Alan Cheeseman in charge of Sainsbury’s wine range being the “Grande Fromage” sorry!! lol, 'cos he had an own label range that was without compare. Many who worked for him went on to be the “top bananas” at other supermarkets.
It has been done in the past, but the buying power is spread out for supermarkets for the large volumes these days, I really do think that the likes of the WS has the opportunity to work with top class growers to make “limited editions” that they could make available to us. We have the membership that Wine Merchants do not,
For example there was a Merlot from Susana Balbo that got great write-ups, I got some for a friend as a gift for Christmas and got a ton of brownie points in return. Maybe only a one off but Toby Morrhall did so well with that one, surely an encore or two might be in order?
Why not a number of Christmas Special Cases from a few areas, like Bordeaux, Rhone and Burgundy? 1000 cases of each. Only one case per member or even address! If it was THAT good, it might attract some wine journo’s to write it up and bring the WS terrific publicity in the Festive run-up.


There must be many different reasons for own-label wines, some a lot better than others. It means less scrupulous merchants can switch producers to get the wine at the best price, while selling under the same label.

On the other hand TWS has a long-standing relation with producers like Gratien and Hugel, which presumably gives the producees better access to the UK market and makes them better known. It also enhances the reputation of TWS. Win-win.


Your Sainsburys anecdote is spot on, but I think most of the MW buyers of that age were poached from Waitrose, no poaching today.
I think a point I didn’t make was the fact that we are getting to the stage were the sheer number of own label wines on the shelf of supermarkets is beginning to see the lesser lights being eliminated from the sales, it is getting to ba a straight choice in the case of the likes of Tesco of huge powerful brands and own label, that can’t be good in the long haul.
TWS put the case as their latest mail says, “they would like us to buy all your wine from the society” I can understand that sentiment, but in my case I have never purchased my wine from one source but the big supermarkets have consolidated their ranges having captured the majority of sales and are now as with other lines cutting back on choice by selling more and more own labels, for them it is the way forward for the likes of us no.


I really think that - to an individual at any given point - circumstances dictate whether they are a good or bad thing. I have little interest in supermarket branded wines, except perhaps if the producer is of particular interest but even than I’d prefer to have it direct from them. I do buy wines in supermarkets, but it would generally be producers I like (or would like to try) and as part of an offer. I do appreciate I am not an “average” wine buyer though - people who have little interest in what they drink may well benefit from an own label range but I can’t help but feel this discourages diversity of choice. For me this is a bad thing, for others it may be a plus

Looking at TWS (or to some extent Majestic) own label ranges, I think there is a place for the keen wine newbie such as myself to find some styles they like. Recently it occurred to me that I had little experience with Chianti, so I bought the WS version on the assumption that it would be a good, general example of the style. Had I loved it, the idea was to try some more specific producers interpretations of different terroirs and explore the nuance within a region. An own label wine doesn’t allow you to do that, but it may help you to focus in on the region you will get the most from exploring

As a more general thought, we clearly live in a brand culture. I would say that the huge increase of these brands in supermarkets, effectively ‘choking out’ less well known producers cannot be a good thing


I think that is a major reason for own labels. I’m not sure that changing suppliers is unscrupulous, the ability to do that is surely the point of own labels.

The shop can advertise their own label rather than promote a winery that they may not stock in later years thus losing all the value of their promotion.

Basically the shop is saying ‘trust out judgement, trust us’.

We are also seeing similar thing with shippers brands - names on labels in supermarkets (and TWS) which are inventions of shippers and filled with wines they’ve bought on the bulk market whose source can change at any time.


Neither have I, but I do purchase almost all my wine from TWS. I thought I’d take a look at the stats (or at least my current wines given I only started logging them a few weeks ago):


Seems about right! :smiley:


The only thing I would say in favour of the own labels in supermarkets is that they can introduce casual drinkers to a wider style of wines. About 6 - 8 years ago Sainsbury’s really started to push TTD - at one stage there was a CdRV from Seguret which was much better than the current Meffre offering, a Vacqueyras, Crozes and a Gigondas as well as a number of French regional offerings. They were a safe foray into the world of spending £10 on a bottle which would give you a sense of the characteristics of an AOC and perhaps the confidence to explore wider. TWS still does this with own labels - they are ‘wines of instruction’ and highly typical by design. I do sometimes wonder about why e.g. St Cosme feels the need to produce a wine which retails at less than half their bottom of the range own label bottling but I suppose it is like the Piemontese who produce DOC langhe from barolo and barbaresco plots where the vines are too young - it creates an income stream without compromising the quality of the main brand.


I have never been a regular buyer of Own Label Wines (i.e. wine which has a retailer’s trading or brand name on the label).
TWS own labels are a large exception, and I have found them an Excellent thing .


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