The La Moneda malbec will be in Dallas-area Walmarts, but who knows which ones and who knows when?
May 15, 2017 update: A reader writes: Why so much publicity and so little availability?
Nov. 27 update: The Wine Curmudgeon braved Black Friday Dallas traffic to drive to a Walmart in Irving and bought the last bottle in the store. The review is here.
The news last week that the La Moneda malbec – “the world’s greatest cheap wine” – was going on sale in the U.S. demonstrated two things: First, that the Wine Curmudgeon will do almost anything for his art, and second, that the three-tier system is just as antiquated and worn out as I have always said it was.
I spent Monday morning hunting for the wine, a Walmart private label and available only at the chain. I visited the Walmart near me (“Never heard of it,” said the store manager); called the two biggest distributors in Texas to see which one worked with Walmart; and contacted the company’s media relations office in Bentonville, Ark.
The consensus? The La Moneda malbec should be available in some Walmart stores in the Dallas area sooner rather than later. Which ones? We’ll have to wait and see. The company spokeswoman emailed me that “Many stores in North Texas have or will receive the wine: multiple locations in Plano and Fort Worth, Arlington and Irving.” Meanwhile, the distributor told me the wine was in their warehouse, and he’d call if, when, and where it shipped.
Which is hardly definitive, but shows just how badly three-tier works in the 21st century.
Walmart is one of the world leaders in supply chain efficiency, and academics study the company to see how it eliminates waste and increases productivity in ordering merchandise. Walmart is supposed to be so good at this that it can tell you how many widgets are on the shelf at each of its almost 12,000 stores with a couple of mouse clicks.
This is a far cry from what the manager at the store near me said. “I’ll have to ask my food guy, who who will have to ask his wine guy,” the manager said. No mouse clicks here, because this is wine and not widgets.
Walmart’s supply chain brilliance is based on dealing directly with the producer. Which, of course, isn’t the case with wine. Three-tier laws require it to deal with the distributor, which adds another layer of bureaucracy, confusion, and waste to the supply chain. In this case, the wine’s availability is not about Walmart, but about the distributor. The world’s biggest and most important retailer is waiting on a third party to decide when it gets product. How quaint.
Next week, hopefully, I’ll review the La Moneda malbec. But if I don’t, you’ll know why — thank you, three-tier.