Every so often I pop into the Checkers Hypermarket Wine Route, located at the Blue Route Mall, Tokai, since it is in my neighbourhood. I have been consistently happy with the purchases made of older vintages that are not readily found.
Today’s visit was interesting, but for different reasons. As I scanned the shelves I took note of recent additions such as the KWV Chocolate Mousse Sparkling Wine (still need to try this…) and the international wines offered such as Barefoot Merlot, produced by Gallo and the Cono Sur range of Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Merlot produced in Chile.
I found a few remaining bottles of Nederburg Aucion Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 and decided that at R130.00 a bottle, it was worth taking home to re-examine. I asked the shop attendent, Gavin, if they had any Le Riche wine since I have often found the Reserve and the Cab Sauv/Merlot blend readily available. All sold out was the reply. As I headed away from the wine route section to the tills I spotted a lone bottle of Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. “Ah, ha, Gavin”, I called, “here’s the King of Cabernet”! Gavin was alongside me in a flash and proudly announced “that is part of the discontinued range”.
Discontinued, I thought, here comes an interesting story for sure…
Gavin stuck to his story and again informed me that Le Riche wines are no longer produced. Mmm, and how do you know this Gavin? The checkers wine buyer told him so. Mmm, and did he not mean that the 2005 vintage is sold out? No, Le Riche no longer produce wine or Cabernet Sauvingon!
At this point I decided to politely tell Gavin that he was wrong. My good friend Jerry recently told me that it is not a good idea to be the smartest kid in the room, however I figured that since this was not a business meeting or a wine exam, I was going to apply my knowledge and bring Gavin up to speed about the world of wine. Sadly Gavin continued to stick to his story and only began to show a slight change in attitude when I addressed the concept of vintage.
I found the encounter with Gavin to be yet another wake-up call for our industry. I have always sung the praises of Checkers Wine Route, because they genuinely go full out to snap up bargins for consumers at auctions like the annual Nederburg Wine Auction. However, it all falls down when your front of house employee does not have basic knowledge of wine – understanding what vintage means is really a basic requirement to sell wine. Sound and accurate wine knowledge further cements your credibilty as a sales person and adds value to your customer experience.
Gavin was so ill-informed, yet adament that Le Riche are a thing of the past, that I took my mobile phone out and dialled the Le Riche number, hoping Etienne, Christo or Yvonne could convince him otherwise! You might think I went over-board by phoning the Le Riche family, but give thought to those customers who have been mis-informed about Le Riche wines and who knows what else.
Long live the King!