Back in 2003 and 2004, Fine Wine Delivery Co. fought a long and lonely battle against the highly disreputable practice of parallel importing Champagne, which was fast becoming popular with other retailers and major supermarket chains seeking a competitive advantage.
We finally embarrassed the supermarkets and other retailers enough that we thought we'd seen the back of it. But with loud murmurings of particularly aggressive supermarket activity from senior industry sources –including direct threats to bypass official distributors if they didn't meet unobtainable prices – it pains us to have to raise this issue again.
Parallel importing strikes at the very heart of our business, which is placing ourselves between you, the customer, and bad wine. The thing about parallel-imported Champagne is the quality is just never as good. Not ever. It's not a matter of trying your luck – “Oh, this bottle might be OK…” With the circuitous shipping routes paralleled stock takes around the globe and lack of temperature-controlled shipping containers, it just won't be. It's like leaving your milk on the kitchen table for a week and then wondering why it tastes funny.
The worst part is that those who sell parallel Champagne know this. It's despicable business practice to knowingly sell second-rate Champagne to undercut the market in pursuit of a dollar. It shows a complete lack of regard for the wine and for your customers (not to mention a complete violation of the Christmas spirit at a time when people are celebrating with family!)
Champagne is a beautifully expressed and delicate beverage, which is why we love it so much. Parallel-imported Champagne is prematurely developed and significantly spoiled, thereby losing its magic… it's not a bargain, even at $10/bottle, you may as well buy Lindauer, at least it will be fresh!
The reason we raise the issue again is that we have it on good authority that one supermarket chain in particular has plans to reintroduce parallel Champagne to showcase themselves as having the best market prices. If they re-enter the parallel Champagne market they will have best prices, but it will be on second-rate product.
As a Champagne buyer, if the price looks to be too good to be true… check the back label. If it's printed in a foreign language or has an international distributor displayed on the label, anything other than the real NZ importer (easy to google the local importer by brand) then you can be certain it is parallel imported.
Purchase your Festive Season Champagne requirements from nationwide retailers who avoid this despicable practice and who really care about their customers. Do so and you'll really enjoy experiencing Champagne for the exciting beverage it is crafted to be.
Have a wonderful Festive Season from the Poole family and our marvellous team at FWD Co. We're 100% focused on providing you fresh Champagne, wines, craft beers and fine spirits at great prices in conjunction with the best service possible, so please tell us if we get it wrong, so we can right it immediately. Cheers, Jeff