Discount retailer Lidl is 'ripping up' its UK stores to make space for thousands of cut-price French wines, including Bordeaux Grand Cru, but sourcing some of the more prestigious names has proved tougher than expected.
Lidl will offer around 50 different French wines across its UK stores this autumn, which it hopes will kick off a longer-term strategy to offer regular sales from premium producers.
Lidl and its main discounter rival, Aldi, have been stealing market share in the UK’s food retail market for several months as canny shoppers seek deals, according to analysts.
Both are looking to lure more middle class shoppers and Lidl has identified wine as a way of doing so.
It has sourced between 10,000 and 30,000 bottles of each French wine to be sold from September, and expects to run out of stock within 10 to 12 weeks.
Wines include lesser-known Bordeaux chateau from the acclaimed 2009 and 2010 vintages, such as Haut-Chaigneau 2009 in Lalande-de-Pomerol at £14.99-a-bottle and AOC Bordeaux Chateau Gabarey 2010 at £5.49. There is one Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe wine on the list, a Tour du Pin Figeac 2006, selling for £21.99-a-bottle.
Lidl’s wine buyer, Ben Hulme, said the retailer is currently ‘ripping up’ floorspace in 600 UK stores to make way for the wine promotion. ‘This is an addition to the 60 wines that we already stock.’
There is also a plan to sell several ‘super premium’ wines, including a 2000 vintage Beaune Premier Cru AOP Hospices de Beaune Clos des Avaux and a 2008 vintage Marquis de Terme, a fourth growth Margaux estate.
But, Hulme said it is not yet certain where or when these wines will be sold, after it proved difficult to secure significant quantities. ‘[For example] we could only get one pallet of the Hospices de Beaune,’ he said.
One option would be to sell these wines online, while another might be to put limited stocks in certain stores, potentially those around London.
On sourcing wines more generally, Hulme said there was some initial wariness among producers and merchants about selling to a discount chain. ‘There’s been a lot of relationship building,’ he said.
Lidl has employed three Masters of Wine to help it select the wines: Richard Bampfield MW, Caroline Gilby MW and Ed Adams MW. They chose the wines from hundreds of samples at a tasting in Paris earlier this year.
‘Price was never a barrier, provided the wine could offer great quality,’ Gilby told Decanter.com.
‘I said that anything that doesn’t score 80 points [out of 100] or more doesn’t get in,’ said Hulme at a press tasting in London this week.
All Lidl staff will be given pocket books on the wines so that they can advise shoppers. ‘We want to make wine fun, that’s what it’s meant to be,’ said Hulme.
A selection of wines on sale from Thursday 4th September – as long as stocks last
Champagne, Champagne AOP Bouteille Spéciale 2007 brut Blanc DE Vallois, £17.99
Loire, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine AOP Domaine de la Vieille Cure 2013 sec Blanc, £5.99
Bordeaux, Pessac-Léognan AOP Château Haut Bergey 2003 sec Rouge, £19.99
Bordeaux, Montagne-Saint-Émilion AOC Château Vieux Ferrand 2010 sec Rouge, £8.99
Bordeaux, Lalande-de-Pomerol AOP Château Haut Chaigneau 2009 sec Rouge, £14.99
Bordeaux, Haut-Médoc AOP CH. Sociando Mallet 2008 sec Rouge, £25.99
Bordeaux, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Grand Cru Classé 3 Tour du Pin Figeac 2006 sec Rouge, £21.99
Alsace, Alsace Riesling AOP 2013 sec Blanc, £5.99
Rhône, Vacqueyras AOP Serabel 2012 sec Rouge, £8.99
Bourgogne, Chablis Premier Cru AOP 2013 sec Blanc, £12.99
Bourgogne, Mercurey AOP Domaine Grangerie 2012 sec Rouge, £9.99
Languedoc-Roussillon, Fitou AOP Fonsalis Réserve 2011 sec Rouge, £5.99
A selection of wines on sale from Thursday 16th October – as long as stocks last
Bordeaux, Bordeaux sec AOP Cour de Mandelotte 2013 sec Blanc, £5.49
Bordeaux, Bordeaux AOC Château Gabarey 2010 sec Rouge, £5.49
Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence AOP Nuit de Provence 2013 sec Rosé, £5.99
Rhône, Côtes du Rhône AOP Tradition 2011 sec Rouge, £5.49
Languedoc-Roussillon, Pays d’Oc Cabernet Sauvignon IGP Ph. Bouchard 2013 sec Rouge, £4.99
A selection of super premium wines – distribution locations and on sale date to be confirmed (prices are provisional as of 28/07/14)
Rhône, Hermitage AOP 2012 sec Rouge, £17.99
Bordeaux, Pauillac Grand Cru Classé 5 Château Pedesclaux 2011 sec Rouge, £24.99
Bordeaux, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru AOP Virginie de Valandraud 2011 sec Rouge, £32.99
Bordeaux, Margaux Grand Cru Classé 4 Château Marquis de Terme 2008 sec Rouge, £29.99
Loire, Sancerre AOP 2009 sec Blanc, £10.99
Bourgogne, Chablis AOP 2012 sec Blanc, £10.99
Champagne, Champagne AOP Bissinger Vintage 2007 brut, £22.99
Bourgogne, Saint-Aubin AOP 1er Cru Le Charmois 2007 sec Blanc, £12.99
Bourgogne, Beaune 1er Cru AOP Hospice de Beaune “Clos des Avaux” 2000 sec Rouge, £49.99
Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOP Serabel 2013 sec Rouge, £13.99
Written by Chris Mercer