Tag Archives: La Moneda malbec

One final word about La Moneda malbec, “the world’s greatest cheap wine”

La MonedaThe La Moneda malbec: “So much publicity, yet no availability” – the bane of the existence of anyone who loves wine

A reader writes:

“I have called Walmart in New Jersey and along the east coast regions. I have called the producer in Chile and the distributor in Minnesota. Unfortunately, and very sadly, no one has been able to help me place an order. I spoke to the corporate heads in Arkansas (Walmart) and they have no clue what I am talking about or what is La Moneda Malbec. I am writing you in hopes that you can simply tell me how can I order a case of this mystery wine that has so much publicity, yet no availability.”

The $6 La Moneda, for those of you who have not been breathlessly following this story, was called the greatest cheap wine in the world after it won a platinum medal at last year’s Decanter World Wine Awards in London. The catch? That the wine was made for a British supermarket chain called ASDA, which Walmart owns. And it wasn’t sold in the U.S.

Nevertheless, as any Google search will show, the U.S. media went silly writing about the wine, mostly because no one could believe Walmart sold the best cheap wine in the world. This ignored the fact that the La Moneda wasn’t for sale in the U.S. — but why let that get in the way of a good story?

Additionally, almost everyone who posted La Moneda stories, including legitimate news organizations, didn’t seem to understand the wine business, the three-tier system, and availability. They didn’t realize that wine is different from every other consumer good; laws restrict how it is sold, so that just because it was for sale in one place didn’t mean it would be for sale in another place. My pal Dave McIntyre explained all of this brilliantly in the Washington Post, not that anyone paid attention.

This led to what the reader wrote – “so much publicity, yet no availability.” Which, of course, never, ever happens in the wine business, does it?

Walmart, to capitalize on the publicity, found enough of the wine last fall (and navigated three-tier to so do, which I wrote about here) to sell it at 577 of its 4,600 U.S. stores. The wine sold out before the end of the year, and there is none left in the U.S. It doesn’t appear there is any left in Britain, either. The ASDA website sells something called La Moneda Premium Collection Malbec, which is not the same thing — and it is only sold in Britain.

The moral in all of this? Wine availability is the bane of the existence of anyone who loves wine. And there is nothing to be done about it until we drive a stake through the three-tier system’s cold, cold heart.

Photo via the Washington Post, using a Creative Commons license

More about La Moneda malbec:
Wine of the week: La Moneda Reserva Malbec 2015

In search of the elusive La Moneda malbec

La Moneda malbecThe 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.