Many shifts are taking place within the Greek wine industry. Smart online retailers like House of Wine take advantage of the shattered distribution system and experience solid growth rates. Wine bars have become very trendy, and wine lovers enjoy small plates of food with extensive selections of wines offered by the glass. In both cases, the combination of good value for quality and consumer education proves to be a winning combination.
It is very satisfying to see these entrepreneurial businesses thrive, but they form only a part of the much larger picture. Greece is awash with unsold stock of bottled wine, and many are regularly discounted. Usually, high quality wines for little money are desirable for the consumer – that is, as long he or she has enough disposable income to seize the bargain. This is clearly not the case in Greece, where the discount strategy employed by the large supermarkets seems to have had little effect to accelerate sales.
I was alerted by a reader from Belgium that Delhaize, a Belgian supermarket chain, is making deep discounts on their Greek wines. It is worth noting that Delhaize is the owner of one of Greece’s largest supermarket chains, AB Vassilopoulos. In fact AB has been employing the strategy of rotating, temporary discounts on Greek wine for more than two years.
Delhaize offers a 40 percent price discount when ordering either six or twelve bottles of the same wine. The details can be found here via their online shop. There seems to be some confusion as to the availability of the wines, also the number of wines offered keeps decreasing. They started out with 21 wines, currently only 16 are shown. It might be that the now missing wines are sold out, or that the delivery of them was delayed.
Most of the Greek wineries that are included in this offer are well known, medium to large sized estates; all are active in the export markets: Alpha Estate, Argyros, Hatzimichalis, Nico Lazaridi, Skouras, Strofilia, and Tselepos. There are some really lovely wines included, and one can only hope that the Belgian consumer will also be educated about them.
It is interesting to note that quite a few of the wines, especially the whites, are not from the latest (current) vintage. Delhaize has in the past regularly sold selections of AB products on its Belgian shelves, so the logistics are in place. Are they now selling off stock accumulated by AB to the Belgian market? Or is this a sign of the immense pressure for the Greek wineries to unload inventory? Whatever the answer might be, the price erosion that started locally is now swapping over into the European export markets.
Update: I have now been informed that the wines are sold from Canette in Belgium. Indeed the idea was to offer quality Greek wines at low prices. Those wines that sell well online are planned to be offered at the supermarket shelves as well. Since the start of this promotion at the beginning of this month, sales have been very successful.