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Time for a little more honesty!



I have just received an email concerning a parcel of Ch Malescasse 2002 which sounds as if it has just been discovered tucked away in a dusty cellar awaiting a diligent wine buyer to stumble over it.

Isn’t the reality more like that the Chateau/Negociant, realising this “moderate vintage” has not sold well, has offered the parcel to the WS at a bargain price to clear it out of their inventory.

I for one would appreciate more honesty in such mail shots.

Whilst 2002 wasn’t a brilliant vintage I am sure it is perfectly drinkable and may well have benefitted from lying undisturbed in a warehouse somewhere for nigh on two decades.

It can also be no coincidence that it has been discovered “in time for Christmas”.

Come on WS, you expect your members to be reasonably educated in matters wine, so please treat us a little more honestly. Something like…

We’ve been offered this parcel of undersold wine for a very good price. It needs drinking up, Go for it, it’ll make a great Christmas and New Year quaff!

There, that didn’t hurt did it?


That sounds kind of dull, though.

It may be because I work in marketing, but I have no problem with these kinds of spiels. I like a bit of romance with my wine buying :slight_smile:


'tis the season for buying old claret. Oddly about the last thing you’d want with turkey etc.

The Fontesteau vertical seems a better bet, if you must. Jancis RobINson seems to agree. The 1996 is sold out already.


Thank you! I have been wondering about saying the same. The effusiveness of WS descriptions has been increasing, and I now distrust them all. The description you propose is NOT dull to those of us who do not work in marketing, or to anyone who knows that not every year and every wine is ‘better than ever’, to quote the German wine leaflet.


Hi @AnaGramWords - thanks for the feedback on the Malescasse email, which we’re more than happy to address. Our buyers only buy wines they truly believe in, and we strive for honesty and transparency in all our communications. These are fundamental principles of ours as a business and having worked in a fair few other marketing depts, I think some would be surprised by the level of scrutiny and detail that goes into ensuring as much as possible that everything we send out is written with integrity at its heart.

However, touching on @tom ’s point about dullness, we obviously want to sell the wines to members who might enjoy them and bring the joy of wine to life – albeit never at the expense of honesty. I was the copywriter who looked after the formatting and editing on this particular email but really I didn’t add much rhetorical gloss to Tim’s original draft. I can only apologise if the email copy suggests to you that the wine has ‘just been discovered tucked away in a dusty cellar awaiting a diligent wine buyer to stumble over it’, as I couldn’t see anything in the email to suggest this; rather Tim’s genuine thrill at securing it at a great price. He got a fantastic deal on a mature parcel of 02, which he and we thought members would enjoy drinking over Christmas (as was the case with a parcel of the 04 from the same property offered in the same way last year: ‘tis indeed the season for mature Bordeaux!). As for the 2002 vintage, we make no claim that it’s a knockout year, but as Tim notes, the best wines of the vintage were wines from the Médoc with a high proportion of cabernet sauvignon, as this one is.

@SPMember: thanks also for your feedback on the Germany offer, which I worked on with Marcel. To be absolutely clear, the phrase ‘better than ever’ in this was used to comment on the section featuring the dry white wines, which are benefiting from global warming and improved winemaking. We made no such claim about the wider vintage, as it wouldn’t have been right; instead we communicated in good faith that this is a tiny crop but that the wines are delicious. Effusiveness is subjective and we have been working on making our offer copy friendlier and livelier over the past year or so, but we are extremely sensitive to the trust members have in us – without it, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, so I’ll take your comments on board.

I hope this helps clear it up and welcome any further feedback or questions. Thanks.


I didn’t get the original email so can’t comment on how effusive/hyberbolic or otherwise it was…however the description of the wine on the website seems pretty reasonable to me…

Exceptional value for less than £20. This blend of 51% cabernet sauvignon, 39% merlot, 7% cabernet franc and 3% petit verdot, aged for 14 months in oak barrels, displays an attractive garnet colour. With a nicely evolved bouquet of cedar and tobacco, and savoury, dark fruit character on the palate, this is a fine left-bank claret at a perfect stage for uncorking and enjoying.

Yes it’s not the best year, but it is a very keen price for this wine . The tasting note on Jancis Robinson from last week suggests that the above description isn’t OTT. I have some 2002 Leoville Barton, which is drinking very well at the moment too. Yes, it’s likely to be a better wine than this, but it’s about three or four times the price…

I am usually the first to call out misleading or inappropriate sales guff, but surely it’s the job of these emails to excite some interest or not, and then people can do a little digging themselves and see if they find it attractive. Not everyone likes mature claret from vintages such as this, but if they do, they may well agree that it’s a bit of a bargain. Nor is it claimed by anyone that this is a ‘keeper’. I agree that it wouldn’t be my choice with turkey and all the trimmings!

The German offer comment is clearly about dry Rieslings, and I agree that they are better than 10 years ago on average.


Thank you for the reply, but also thank you for confirming that there has been a change.

Can we at least agree on a moratorium for words like ‘found’ (see first post here and also the recent Tokay 6 putt.) and ‘unearthed’ (new wines in the current offers)? It is the job of your buyers to ‘find’ and offer wines to us. It isn’t a special achievement. Tesco doesn’t tell me that it has ‘found’ someone to supply milk.


Can we agree instead that different people like different things, and you are perfectly able to ignore the guff and make your own mind up?

Other retailers use found (or more likely ‘sourced’) all the time. It’s just current fashion.

I quite like it, can we agree to keep doing it?!


Are you really saying it is all right because it is a cliché?


No, I’m just saying it’s alright. Everyone likes and dislikes different things.

I’m sure your and my preferences will be noted, but I’m more sure that resulting sales data will sway opinion on marketing style far more :slight_smile:


I baulked at the comparison of wine to milk. Wine isn’t in the same essential commodity catalogue as milk.

I’m not sure about banning words or limiting TWS staff the right to describe wine as they like, either. As long as its truthful and in the spirit of promoting good wine to members, I see nothing but benefit in good and varied prose. Clearly as @martin_brown says it’s proof read and checked.

I’m sure that with the limited parcel offers there is some unearthing and finding. Even if the wines are offered by the supplier/winery, TWS staff still have to find the wheat amongst the chaff and unearth the gems. I’m sure they are offered many parcel which don’t meet our needs.

Having said that I didn’t see either the offending mailings. Maybe i’d agree on the general spirit of it if I had. I seem to be off the list for fine wine mailings and have asked so often to be put on them, but have given up.


Just to be clear . I have not really complained about the type of prose used to describe the wine offered here. Many of us are aware of the advertising hype used to sell virtually everything these days, wine is no exception. My point was the inference in the mailshot of discovery. “Finding a bottle, snapping it up, securing a parcel”, all intimate an industrious buyer ferreting around and stumbling on a great bargain (which it might well be) instead of him just receiving an email from a negociant offering some unsold wine that’s been knocking around for years.


Interestingy both Laithwaites and Avery’s have touted this wine around during the last year or so, albeit at a marginally higher price point.


…Back to the random algorithm debate again then…:slight_smile:


I recall not being particularly impressed by the 2004 last year, so will hold out for a better offer…


Aren’t they the same company?


Enjoying reading the debate on marketing here.

I believe the WS, in fairness, to be the least guilty of hyberbole among its retailing peers.

Also, have to give them top marks for not jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon.



(no need to say more but software won’t allow 3 character reply)


No, wine is much more essential :slight_smile:

I only use milk when I make scones and Yorkshire puddings, but wine??


Caveat - I have not seen the offending email. I’m not sure I’d be rushing to order:

‘A parcel offered to the WS at a bargain price to clear it out of their inventory’.

I think I am savvy enough to realise that all those selling need to create a narrative around their offer. I think the WS manages pretty well the need to balance the need to make an offer attractive with the challenge of trying not to over promise.