What Price Potensac?

How much does price play a role in where people buy their wine? While it surely plays some factor in the choice of merchant, I think knowledge of the staff and quality of the wine portfolio are likely to be much more important. My opinion was also underscored by my previously held belief that the pricing of wine was unlikely to vary wildly across independent wine merchants / retailers. Well, it turns out I was wrong.

I recently received an email from a wine merchant detailing an offer of the wines from Château Potensac (Medoc, Bordeaux). Château Potensac 2008 is a wine that I’ve been keeping my eye on for some time and I was extremely tempted previously to buy at an in-bond price of €14.40 per bottle (plus duty, VAT and delivery). Critics have heaped praise on the 2008 vintage and as a result it seems to be in high demand. When I received the latest email offer, I decided to do a bit of market research on the pricing of this wine in Ireland. This isn’t a rant targeting specific retailers because I know a retailer is free to sell a wine for whatever price they wish. Plus, the cost models of the 7 different retailers I checked are undoubtedly different. With that and the small sample size in mind, I’ve decided not to name the retailers. The prices listed are the shelf/web prices not including any discounts or reductions.

The prices ranged from €26.00 (plus delivery) for an online retailer all the way up to €41.00. Most amusingly, one shop even listed two different prices for the wine (€33.95 and €37.95). If one could be bothered walking 5 minutes from that retailer, the wine could be had elsewhere for €32.95.

The real surprise to me was how much shopping around could save on a single bottle of wine. It’s something that I might expect to see with electronic goods or similar but a saving of €15 per bottle was truly staggering – that’s saving of €90 on half a case. Surely no amount of customer service could make up for such a disparity. As an aside, it probably is worth noting that wine is only a side business for the most expensive retailer. Still, somebody must be buying wine regularly from them at these inflated prices as it continues to be part of their business.

So, have I vowed to change my buying habits? Yes and No. I have my go-to retailers whose advice I trust and I’m still quite happy to pay a premium for their service. If I know the wine that I’m looking for though, I’m now keen to do a bit of shopping around, particularly since my eyes have been opened to the potential savings.

I’d be interested to hear what role price pays in your selection of wine retailer.