Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

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Frank Murray III
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Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#1 Post by Frank Murray III » December 19th, 2018, 10:59 am

Had a bottle of 2012 Savart Expression earlier this year that blew my mind. Had no expectations of that bottle, which I had brought as part of a collection of wines I poured blind for our dork group. Following that experience with the Savart, I searched hard for it, but was having no luck. I had been lucky to source 2 bottles of it for $90 each in 2017, FWIW.

Fast forward to last month, I finally found some locally here in LA. However, the price to acquire had jumped and the wine all-in was $175 to get it to my door. For me, it was worth it, as I wanted to try it again and see if the experience was repeatable. Hell, I have it on my WOTY list so it needs to be vetted to see if it can repeat in more than one setting/instance (at least for me).

Opened the bottle on Saturday, it is corked. Frigging TCA of wet cardboard. Ok, so maybe at a smaller tariff, I don't chase for replacement of the wine or some compensation in exchange for the failed experience. But at $175, I needed to. Sent a note via Facebook to Frederick Savart on Sunday AM, no reply yet. Emailed the retailer, and he is willing to credit me a good portion of the price for a future order. Good on him.

My view? The retailer is not on the hook. Not his product nor his issue. To me, Savart is the moving party, yet they won't reply. And FWIW, I had sent Frederic Savart a note earlier this year when I had the first wow moment with the Expression bottling, yet no reply either.

So, in your view, who should make good on this for me? Or, am I to just eat the $175? Of note, Savart is a small but increasingly popular winery in Champagne who at some point needs to find a way to at least acknowledge the customer, good or bad.

Love to hear some replies here.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#2 Post by c fu » December 19th, 2018, 11:05 am

Frank Murray III wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 10:59 am
Had a bottle of 2012 Savart Expression earlier this year that blew my mind. Had no expectations of that bottle, which I had brought as part of a collection of wines I poured blind for our dork group. Following that experience with the Savart, I searched hard for it, but was having no luck. I had been lucky to source 2 bottles of it for $90 each in 2017, FWIW.

Fast forward to last month, I finally found some locally here in LA. However, the price to acquire had jumped and the wine all-in was $175 to get it to my door. For me, it was worth it, as I wanted to try it again and see if the experience was repeatable. Hell, I have it on my WOTY list so it needs to be vetted to see if it can repeat in more than one setting/instance (at least for me).

Opened the bottle on Saturday, it is corked. Frigging TCA of wet cardboard. Ok, so maybe at a smaller tariff, I don't chase for replacement of the wine or some compensation in exchange for the failed experience. But at $175, I needed to. Sent a note via Facebook to Frederick Savart on Sunday AM, no reply yet. Emailed the retailer, and he is willing to credit me a good portion of the price for a future order. Good on him.

My view? The retailer is not on the hook. Not his product nor his issue. To me, Savart is the moving party, yet they won't reply. And FWIW, I had sent Frederic Savart a note earlier this year when I had the first wow moment with the Expression bottling, yet no reply either.

So, in your view, who should make good on this for me? Or, am I to just eat the $175? Of note, Savart is a small but increasingly popular winery in Champagne who at some point needs to find a way to at least acknowledge the customer, good or bad.

Love to hear some replies here.
That's some lofty expectations. Not sure i'd be able to get any french producer to refund me a corked wine. Getting a reply back would be a herculean task.

This topic has been discussed many times re: eating the cost of corked wine - especially non - local producers
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#3 Post by Mike Kuller » December 19th, 2018, 11:43 am

I would recommend going through the retailer - certainly not Facebook.

The retailer can get credit from the distributor - the distributor can get it from the winery.

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#4 Post by Cris Whetstone » December 19th, 2018, 12:16 pm

The further you get away from release the more the wine is likely to have been acquired from parties other than the distributor or winery. I think that price bump you endured makes this most likely. Trying to claw back after a while is rough. Especially if you are looking at after market prices.

At some point no one is on the hook anymore. It's just corked wine. There could be some producers willing to replace with a current release, but seeking the new price or original wine is probably climbing a steep hill.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#5 Post by David_K » December 19th, 2018, 12:26 pm

Mike Kuller wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 11:43 am
I would recommend going through the retailer - certainly not Facebook.

The retailer can get credit from the distributor - the distributor can get it from the winery.

Everybody's happy champagne.gif
Correct. There could not be a more perfect illustration of why this is the way it works (and should work) than Frank hopelessly trying to get a refund for one bottle of Champagne 5,000 miles away from a tiny winery in France.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#6 Post by larry schaffer » December 19th, 2018, 12:28 pm

This certainly is a major problem in our industry. Start with the retailer and let them handle it from there. A good retailer should get your money back to you or a credit and then take it from there. If this was a domestic pretty sure, it would be a lot simpler going direct to them that is not the situation here. Keep us posted please.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#7 Post by Dan Hammer » December 19th, 2018, 12:31 pm

#Savart #Champagne #France

That's what I would use on Twitter and Instagram.

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#8 Post by Frank Murray III » December 19th, 2018, 1:02 pm

Dan, I don't use Twitter or Instagram and am really not interested in starting now. I used FB because Savart has an account there that seems to have activity so I thought this could reach him or the winery.

The retailer has told me that he does not believe he can get any recourse from the distributor so I have to trust his belief. But with him being willing to work with me, I appreciated that, especially in line with what a few of you have said about eating a corked purchase, and one that is potentially with some hair on it, i.e. some time has passed.

But let me take issue with the fact that this is France. So what. Why should I accept that because the producer is 9 hours ahead that I should not expect any less from them? A customer relationship to me, in my belief, is country agnostic: I am a customer, whether I speak Hindi or live in Sweden. I recognize the practicality of getting a bottle from "A to B" is not easy given the rules of the different countries and the expanse between them. But, I am not willing to just accept because France is far that it changes the principle of what has happened.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#9 Post by larry schaffer » December 19th, 2018, 1:41 pm

Two words, my friend - screw caps [swearing.gif] [soap.gif] [snort.gif]

This is one part of the industry that I disdain more than any others. That wine was faulty right after bottling and yet no one seems to want to take ownership of that fault. The retailer really should be on the line here as they are the one who sold it to you. A van should be able to go back to the winery or distributor. Period.

If the retailer is unwilling to do that, then they have a big issue with the Importer. I would hold firm on this and see what happens.

Keep us posted please. Cheers!
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#10 Post by c fu » December 19th, 2018, 2:48 pm

Frank Murray III wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 1:02 pm
Dan, I don't use Twitter or Instagram and am really not interested in starting now. I used FB because Savart has an account there that seems to have activity so I thought this could reach him or the winery.

The retailer has told me that he does not believe he can get any recourse from the distributor so I have to trust his belief. But with him being willing to work with me, I appreciated that, especially in line with what a few of you have said about eating a corked purchase, and one that is potentially with some hair on it, i.e. some time has passed.

But let me take issue with the fact that this is France. So what. Why should I accept that because the producer is 9 hours ahead that I should not expect any less from them? A customer relationship to me, in my belief, is country agnostic: I am a customer, whether I speak Hindi or live in Sweden. I recognize the practicality of getting a bottle from "A to B" is not easy given the rules of the different countries and the expanse between them. But, I am not willing to just accept because France is far that it changes the principle of what has happened.
Are you going to stop buying Savart?
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#11 Post by Mark Y » December 19th, 2018, 2:52 pm

larry schaffer wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 1:41 pm
Two words, my friend - screw caps
Can you use screw caps for Champagne? that'd be interesting to see.

In Larry's case, i'd say it's 100% retailer's issue..
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#12 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m » December 19th, 2018, 3:19 pm

Technically, absent any legal disclaimer, *both* the producer and the retailer are on the hook*. It's (arguably) a defective product.

*That's based on U.S. contracts law; complicating things here is the fact that one of the involved entities (the winery) is foreign, so jurisdiction would likely be an issue.


Morally, the cork producer is on the hook.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#13 Post by Brian Gilp » December 19th, 2018, 4:23 pm

Mark Y wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 2:52 pm
larry schaffer wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 1:41 pm
Two words, my friend - screw caps
Can you use screw caps for Champagne? that'd be interesting to see.

In Larry's case, i'd say it's 100% retailer's issue..
Crown caps work

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#14 Post by larry schaffer » December 19th, 2018, 4:29 pm

deadhorse
Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 3:19 pm

Morally, the cork producer is on the hook.
And good luck trying to get them to own up to that, my friend. They're starting to now, but none of them are willing and wanting to fully stand up to what's their products have ruined for decades.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#15 Post by GregP » December 19th, 2018, 6:45 pm

Frank,

Next time you buy Champagne, and especially at this price, try to find out how the wine was stored, storing them on a side, as still wines are, usually results in a corked bottle. I found out the hard way, years ago, with a rare and expensive bottle ($110 back in 1999). Never stored a sparkler on a side since, and all my beer under similar corks is also stored upright.

Also, there was a large scale tasting of Champagne/sparklers in Australia, earlier this year, just to assess natural cork performance, all price points. Roughly 40% of those under natural cork were faulty, TCA, none of those under Diam were. Just a reference point.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#16 Post by Mark Y » December 19th, 2018, 6:52 pm

GregP wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 6:45 pm
Frank,

Next time you buy Champagne, and especially at this price, try to find out how the wine was stored, storing them on a side, as still wines are, usually results in a corked bottle. I found out the hard way, years ago, with a rare and expensive bottle ($110 back in 1999). Never stored a sparkler on a side since, and all my beer under similar corks is also stored upright.
This can’t be right can it? How can storing it sideways introduce TCA?
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#17 Post by Russell Faulkner » December 19th, 2018, 7:18 pm

In the UK your complaint is with the retailer.

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#18 Post by Dale Williams » December 19th, 2018, 7:35 pm

I'm a bit bemused at idea you're surprised that after you didn't get response to your compliment, you didn't get response to refund request.

Other than explicit repair warranties (autos, appliances, etc) I can't think of any product where recourse for flaws is through producer. If producer did respond, would you be happy if they refunded what they made off bottle (which was originally $90, after importer/wholesaler/retailer markups- don't think producer saw much of the $175 you paid).

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#19 Post by Kris Patten » December 19th, 2018, 7:36 pm

The correct recourse is the retailer to take care of it, who would return it to distributor, who would return to importer.

If this was bought outside of that line of succession, then the retailer is just building trust with a customer and likely eating the cost.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#20 Post by DanielP » December 19th, 2018, 7:46 pm

Mark Y wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 6:52 pm
GregP wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 6:45 pm
Frank,

Next time you buy Champagne, and especially at this price, try to find out how the wine was stored, storing them on a side, as still wines are, usually results in a corked bottle. I found out the hard way, years ago, with a rare and expensive bottle ($110 back in 1999). Never stored a sparkler on a side since, and all my beer under similar corks is also stored upright.
This can’t be right can it? How can storing it sideways introduce TCA?
I suppose more contact with cork could lead to more TCA exposure. Though, I can't imagine that was worded correctly, since there's no way that storing champagne on its side "usually results in a corked bottle."
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#21 Post by larry schaffer » December 19th, 2018, 8:37 pm

I'm gonna have to just say no to the concept of decreasing your risk of TCA if the bottle is stored standing up. If you remember a recent thread on corks, there was new research showing that you do not need to store wines on their side since there is enough moisture in the head space to prevent the cork from drying out. I still disagree with that, but the general concept is that that moisture is still allowing 'transfer' of corklins, or little cork derived molecules, that are adding 'phenolics' to the wine. If that is the case, then TCA would be transferred as well.

And as I've said and many others have as well, the retailer needs to make good if that's who you bought it from - and they can fight the fight from there. And if you choose not to push this, as many others choose not to, then this type of 'not taking responsibility' will continue . . .

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#22 Post by larry schaffer » December 19th, 2018, 8:39 pm

Mark Y wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 2:52 pm
larry schaffer wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 1:41 pm
Two words, my friend - screw caps
Can you use screw caps for Champagne? that'd be interesting to see.

In Larry's case, i'd say it's 100% retailer's issue..
Though I have not seen 'high end' sparkling under screw cap, I certainly have seen half bottles and splits of sparkling under screw cap.

Wonder if Aussies use any on theirs - anyone know?

Cheers.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#23 Post by Mark Y » December 19th, 2018, 8:42 pm

larry schaffer wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 8:39 pm
Though I have not seen 'high end' sparkling under screw cap, I certainly have seen half bottles and splits of sparkling under screw cap.

Wonder if Aussies use any on theirs - anyone know?

Cheers.
So screw cap can withstand the pressure, and when i open it, it won't go KABOOOOM?
cool! i need to look for one to try!
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#24 Post by GregP » December 19th, 2018, 9:49 pm

DanielPaik wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 7:46 pm
Mark Y wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 6:52 pm
GregP wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 6:45 pm
Frank,

Next time you buy Champagne, and especially at this price, try to find out how the wine was stored, storing them on a side, as still wines are, usually results in a corked bottle. I found out the hard way, years ago, with a rare and expensive bottle ($110 back in 1999). Never stored a sparkler on a side since, and all my beer under similar corks is also stored upright.
This can’t be right can it? How can storing it sideways introduce TCA?
I suppose more contact with cork could lead to more TCA exposure. Though, I can't imagine that was worded correctly, since there's no way that storing champagne on its side "usually results in a corked bottle."
Worded right, and as explained to me. Something about carbonation that results in TCA no matter what if Champagne is stored on its side. By way more experienced drinkers than I was at the time, their first question to me was "How did you store it?" Just passing this along, your money and your decision, I know what mine is since. Short term may not matter, long term always does.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#25 Post by Russell Faulkner » December 19th, 2018, 9:56 pm

Someone should tell Bollinger. Every bottle is sealed with cork for secondary fermentation and stored on its side in their cellars.

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#26 Post by jbray23 » December 19th, 2018, 10:01 pm

Mark Y wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 8:42 pm
larry schaffer wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 8:39 pm
Though I have not seen 'high end' sparkling under screw cap, I certainly have seen half bottles and splits of sparkling under screw cap.

Wonder if Aussies use any on theirs - anyone know?

Cheers.
So screw cap can withstand the pressure, and when i open it, it won't go KABOOOOM?
cool! i need to look for one to try!
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#27 Post by Mark Y » December 19th, 2018, 10:05 pm

Carbonation results in the creation of a chemical compound that previously didn’t exist? Wow. Mind blown.
(Ok not really because I’m not sure I buy that theory but that is a wild theory indeed).
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#28 Post by jbray23 » December 19th, 2018, 10:07 pm

Frank,

I’ve made my impression known in another thread but the retailer should make you whole, in turn the wholesaler credits the retailer and importer credits the whole seller.. we have built in cost just for this instance, if the retailer you are dealing with can’t get credit from the whole seller than that whole seller is shitty...

This should not at all be an issue... it’s not really freddy’s Fault, cork is cork but at every level samples and waste are built in to the cost of the end product, if not, someone along the line is being outrageously greedy..
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#29 Post by jcoley3 » December 19th, 2018, 10:27 pm

Kris Patten wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 7:36 pm
The correct recourse is the retailer to take care of it, who would return it to distributor, who would return to importer.

If this was bought outside of that line of succession, then the retailer is just building trust with a customer and likely eating the cost.
Kris is right on both counts. At retail, I have take back corked bottles where my customer assumed it wouldn't be my problem either. It has never once been worth explaining why it might be.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#30 Post by jcoley3 » December 19th, 2018, 10:31 pm

larry schaffer wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 8:39 pm
Mark Y wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 2:52 pm
larry schaffer wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 1:41 pm
Two words, my friend - screw caps
Can you use screw caps for Champagne? that'd be interesting to see.

In Larry's case, i'd say it's 100% retailer's issue..
Though I have not seen 'high end' sparkling under screw cap, I certainly have seen half bottles and splits of sparkling under screw cap.

Wonder if Aussies use any on theirs - anyone know?

Cheers.
Larry,

There are some Champagne producers who prefer using cork for aging wines under tirage for the oxygen transfer effects. Others use crown caps for aging prior to release.

My experience with AUS and NZ sparkling wine producers have been commercially released with corks. Lower pressure wines can get crown-capped on release, but that is usually commercial Prosecco.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#31 Post by GregP » December 19th, 2018, 10:39 pm

My bad, was thinking of oxidation. That bottle of 1995 Salon was my first experience with serious Champagne, oxidized, and when I asked those who have been drinking it for a long time it was the first thing they asked, storage upright or not.

One of online articles: "Sparkling wine should be stored upright because the cork will get too moist and allow oxygen in that will make the wine too fizzy and spoiled".

Pretty much how it was explained to me a good while back. So, not TCA issue as I posted above.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#32 Post by Mark Y » December 19th, 2018, 10:43 pm

Ahhh that makes sense now Greg!
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#33 Post by Russell Faulkner » December 19th, 2018, 10:54 pm

Not to me!

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#34 Post by Otto Forsberg » December 20th, 2018, 12:14 am

GregP wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 10:39 pm
My bad, was thinking of oxidation. That bottle of 1995 Salon was my first experience with serious Champagne, oxidized, and when I asked those who have been drinking it for a long time it was the first thing they asked, storage upright or not.

One of online articles: "Sparkling wine should be stored upright because the cork will get too moist and allow oxygen in that will make the wine too fizzy and spoiled".

Pretty much how it was explained to me a good while back. So, not TCA issue as I posted above.
Oxygen makes sparkling wine too fizzy and spoiled? [scratch.gif]

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#35 Post by GregP » December 20th, 2018, 12:41 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
December 20th, 2018, 12:14 am
GregP wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 10:39 pm
My bad, was thinking of oxidation. That bottle of 1995 Salon was my first experience with serious Champagne, oxidized, and when I asked those who have been drinking it for a long time it was the first thing they asked, storage upright or not.

One of online articles: "Sparkling wine should be stored upright because the cork will get too moist and allow oxygen in that will make the wine too fizzy and spoiled".

Pretty much how it was explained to me a good while back. So, not TCA issue as I posted above.
Oxygen makes sparkling wine too fizzy and spoiled? [scratch.gif]
Yeah, this sounded strange to me as well. Main point is that corks do get too soft and allow oxidation in sparkling wine. Short term, not really an issue, long term it does happen. Expensive lesson for me back then, but advice and explanation came from people who do know wine. Like I said, your money and your decision, not telling you what you should do, or not, with your wine.

As for TCA, if you look at some numbers provided lately, TCA in Champagne happens more often than in still wines. Don't know what drives that, but 5-7% rate is not a good one no matter how you look at it.

Not sure why Frank is only offered a partial refund/credit, back in my retail days we would have fully refunded the purchase and then back billed the wholesaler/distributor, that was part of the monthly inventory sync up. Its just a way of life in high end wine shops. Even with some still wines with excessive trapped CO2, if a customer demanded refund no question would be asked as its a technical/production fault in still wines.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#36 Post by Otto Forsberg » December 20th, 2018, 12:47 am

GregP wrote:
December 20th, 2018, 12:41 am
Yeah, this sounded strange to me as well. Main point is that corks do get too soft and allow oxidation in sparkling wine. Short term, not really an issue, long term it does happen. Expensive lesson for me back then, but advice and explanation came from people who do know wine. Like I said, your money and your decision, not telling you what you should do, or not, with your wine.

As for TCA, if you look at some numbers provided lately, TCA in Champagne happens more often than in still wines. Don't know what drives that, but 5-7% rate is not a good one no matter how you look at it.

Not sure why Frank is only offered a partial refund/credit, back in my retail days we would have fully refunded the purchase and then back billed the wholesaler/distributor, that was part of the monthly inventory sync up. Its just a way of life in high end wine shops. Even with some still wines with excessive trapped CO2, if a customer demanded refund no question would be asked as its a technical/production fault in still wines.
I get the oxidation part but for the life of me I can't understand how oxygen could make any wine - sparkling or still - fizzy.

And although I've had a corked Champagne every now and then, from my personal experience I've noticed TCA in Champagne more seldom than in still wines. Care to share where did you get that 5-7% TCA in Champagne? It sounds awfully high.

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#37 Post by Carlos Delpin » December 20th, 2018, 1:29 am

Frank, I would write to the importer. The importer is the link between winery and market and is the "local" owner of the brand.

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#38 Post by Frank Murray III » December 20th, 2018, 6:07 am

I appreciate the responses and thank you for the input. I will have another discussion with the retailer to get some clarity, based on your suggestions.

I gave this topic more thought last night and landed back with the premise of why isn't the winery responsible? Why in this space do the other parties have to take ownership, such as the retailer or distributor? The product was made by the winery, based on their freedom to decide how to make it, and what inputs to use within its production. They originated the product, which in this case, was not successful because of the spoilage. And further, why is it so hard for a winery to at least reach out and say, "Hey, sorry you had this experience, here is what you need to do. Contact X or Y and they can address the issue for you". Or, tell me "we're sorry but this happens and we are not accountable for it".

But to be given the option to not say anything because they are small, or they're far away, to me that is an excuse. Do something, show some kind of accountability and concern--this is how you treat people.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#39 Post by Sherri S h a p i r o » December 20th, 2018, 6:16 am

Frank Murray III wrote:
December 20th, 2018, 6:07 am
I appreciate the responses and thank you for the input. I will have another discussion with the retailer to get some clarity, based on your suggestions.

I gave this topic more thought last night and landed back with the premise of why isn't the winery responsible? Why in this space do the other parties have to take ownership, such as the retailer or distributor? The product was made by the winery, based on their freedom to decide how to make it, and what inputs to use within its production. They originated the product, which in this case, was not successful because of the spoilage. And further, why is it so hard for a winery to at least reach out and say, "Hey, sorry you had this experience, here is what you need to do. Contact X or Y and they can address the issue for you". Or, tell me "we're sorry but this happens and we are not accountable for it".

But to be given the option to not say anything because they are small, or they're far away, to me that is an excuse. Do something, show some kind of accountability and concern--this is how you treat people.
Frank - I am 100% on the same page with you. I look to the winery, regardless of where I purchased it. It's a bit harder when it's from another country and not necessarily a linear line to your local retailer, but that shouldn't absolve the winery from their responsibility or from, at the very least, acknowledging your attempt to reach out to them. In the end, you'll probably not get a refund, and if it were me, I'd never buy anything from that producer again. Not the right result for sure.

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#40 Post by M.Kaplan » December 20th, 2018, 6:35 am

If you buy a corked bag of carrots, do you take it up with the grocery store where you bought it or seek a refund from the farm that grew and packaged it? I’m trying to think of any consumable product that consumers routinely seek redress from the producer rather than the retailer and I can’t think of any.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#41 Post by Frank Murray III » December 20th, 2018, 7:14 am

Mark, corked carrots?

Corked carrots are not in my mind germane to this issue, as the cost of carrots is not the same as an expensive bottle of champagne. In addition, I am not motivated by something that might be $2-$3 to get my money back if they were spoiled. I can admit to writing that off as not material. And who knows where they were grown but I know where this bottle came from, and who 'grew' it.

Again, regardless of the size of the producer and the 'who' of the origin, the way I was brought up and still believe is that if you own something, own it. Take Savart out of this. Whoever the producer is. You're making a product that has a fail rate and it's not the customer, nor in my view any of the other stakeholders in the chain, to own that failure.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#42 Post by larry schaffer » December 20th, 2018, 7:25 am

Frank,

Your points are spot on, my friend. The 'challenge' has always been that producers are 'weary' of consumers claiming 'faulty products' without proof. Now you and I know that there are many producers who certainly 'back up' what they produce and are willing to 'make right', even if they are not asked to. And we've all heard horror stories of other producers not willing to take ownership of their issues.

TCA should be a simple one to work with, as one can test to see what the actual level is. If the producer 'does not believe you', they can, at their expense, always get the bottle and/or cork back from you and test it. And why this does not happen blows me away. If the world were as it should be, they can then go back to their cork supplier, who should make right and refund their money . . .

There are other 'faults' that one might also feel could be the responsibility of the producer as well. Let's take brett, for instance. If a winery chooses to bottle a wine with 'a little brett' and does not filter this wine (or nowadays use Velcorin, assuming the levels of brett are 'treatable' using it), then they are creating a situation where that wine CAN turn into something that they did not intend it to be. They are 'hoping' that provenance, storage and transportation will all work out in a such a way that that wine will not have a 'bloom' and become something totally different that what they intended. One could argue that 'it is not their fault' should that wine 'heat up' during its life, but one could also say that that wine is 'unstable'.

We as consumers have lived with 'bottle variation' as an explanation for bottles that did not live up to our expectations for quite some time - but do we need to? That's for another thread but is something to consider here.

Cheers!
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#43 Post by Russell Faulkner » December 20th, 2018, 7:38 am

Is this a legal or moral question.

I’d be surprised if the legal path was anything other than the retailler.

Morally you can debate it all day long.

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#44 Post by Charlie Carnes » December 20th, 2018, 7:45 am

Frank Murray III wrote:
December 20th, 2018, 7:14 am
Mark, corked carrots?

Corked carrots are not in my mind germane to this issue, as the cost of carrots is not the same as an expensive bottle of champagne. In addition, I am not motivated by something that might be $2-$3 to get my money back if they were spoiled. I can admit to writing that off as not material. And who knows where they were grown but I know where this bottle came from, and who 'grew' it.

Again, regardless of the size of the producer and the 'who' of the origin, the way I was brought up and still believe is that if you own something, own it. Take Savart out of this. Whoever the producer is. You're making a product that has a fail rate and it's not the customer, nor in my view any of the other stakeholders in the chain, to own that failure.
Frank, it sucks, but my take is that it is a part of life. I always inform the producer when possible. I usually get a positive response. Not always. I also agree, just because they are in France shouldn't lower expectations of at least a response. I know many US wine makers here on this board would make good on one of their bottles if it were opened in France and was corked. Still, I concider corked wines(sadly) a part of life.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#45 Post by David Glasser » December 20th, 2018, 7:49 am

I agree with Mark, the retailer is typically the consumer's first point of contact for complaints or returns, whether food, clothing, car recalls, electronics, etc., some of which can be significantly more costly than an expensive bottle of wine. Why should wine be different?

One reason is timing. Most product faults are either immediately apparent or there’s a well-defined warranty period. A wine retailer may have fewer options for dealing with return of a years-old purchase. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad idea to start there.

Another reason is that some wineries do sell direct to consumer. A winery purchase would be a good reason to go back directly to the winery.

Ultimately you go where you’re most likely to get satisfaction. In my limited experience that’s been the retailer for wines still in the market. For domestic wines years after the purchase, it’s been the winery. For older imports I’ve not had good luck. I have not tried the distributor, which sounds like a good plan B if the retailer isn’t helpful and the distributor hasn’t changed.

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#46 Post by larry schaffer » December 20th, 2018, 7:51 am

Charlie,

The problem remains that if consumers consider corked wines 'a part of life', nothing will ever change . . .

We truly have no idea what actual TCA rates exist these days because:

1) Most consumers still do not know what a corked wine is or smells like
2) Many consumers who do know how to pick one out just chalk it up as 'part of life' rather than letting the companies know about the faulty product

Just something to think about.

Cheers.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#47 Post by Mike Evans » December 20th, 2018, 8:00 am

Frank Murray III wrote:
December 20th, 2018, 7:14 am
Mark, corked carrots?

Corked carrots are not in my mind germane to this issue, as the cost of carrots is not the same as an expensive bottle of champagne. In addition, I am not motivated by something that might be $2-$3 to get my money back if they were spoiled. I can admit to writing that off as not material. And who knows where they were grown but I know where this bottle came from, and who 'grew' it.

Again, regardless of the size of the producer and the 'who' of the origin, the way I was brought up and still believe is that if you own something, own it. Take Savart out of this. Whoever the producer is. You're making a product that has a fail rate and it's not the customer, nor in my view any of the other stakeholders in the chain, to own that failure.
I don’t disagree at all with your disappointment at being ignored by the producer, which reflects poor customer service. But I see that as a separate issue from seeking recourse from the retailer. I don’t understand your reluctance to hold others in the supply chain responsible. A major purpose of the supply chain is to deal with end users so the manufacturer doesn’t have to or where it would be impractical for the manufacturer to do so. The producer’s relationship is with the importer, whose relationship is with the distributor, whose relationship is with the retailer, whose relationship is with you. The retailer is best positioned to get recourse from its distributor, and on up the chain.

Would it make you feel better if you consider that the retailer almost certainly made more profit on the bottle (in real dollars) than did the producer? You paid the most for the bottle and want your cost to be borne by the party who was paid least for the bottle. Working through the chain makes each party responsible for its own cost.

I admit that I view the issue differently when dealing with a smaller domestic producer that has direct to consumer sales, as it is much easier for the producer in that case to directly provide a replacement for the flawed bottle. But to me that is a critical distinction that makes a difference. The greater the distance between you and the producer, including the number of intermediaries, borders, oceans, etc., the less responsibility I put on the producer to directly make me whole even when the issue is clearly the producer’s fault.

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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#48 Post by lleichtman » December 20th, 2018, 8:10 am

DanielPaik wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 7:46 pm
Mark Y wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 6:52 pm
GregP wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 6:45 pm
Frank,

Next time you buy Champagne, and especially at this price, try to find out how the wine was stored, storing them on a side, as still wines are, usually results in a corked bottle. I found out the hard way, years ago, with a rare and expensive bottle ($110 back in 1999). Never stored a sparkler on a side since, and all my beer under similar corks is also stored upright.
This can’t be right can it? How can storing it sideways introduce TCA?
I suppose more contact with cork could lead to more TCA exposure. Though, I can't imagine that was worded correctly, since there's no way that storing champagne on its side "usually results in a corked bottle."
I really can't imagine a scenario where storing a champagne bottle on its side would cause it to be corked. I have done this with many cases over the years and never had a problem one.
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#49 Post by c fu » December 20th, 2018, 8:43 am

Frank Murray III wrote:
December 20th, 2018, 6:07 am
I appreciate the responses and thank you for the input. I will have another discussion with the retailer to get some clarity, based on your suggestions.

I gave this topic more thought last night and landed back with the premise of why isn't the winery responsible? Why in this space do the other parties have to take ownership, such as the retailer or distributor? The product was made by the winery, based on their freedom to decide how to make it, and what inputs to use within its production. They originated the product, which in this case, was not successful because of the spoilage. And further, why is it so hard for a winery to at least reach out and say, "Hey, sorry you had this experience, here is what you need to do. Contact X or Y and they can address the issue for you". Or, tell me "we're sorry but this happens and we are not accountable for it".

But to be given the option to not say anything because they are small, or they're far away, to me that is an excuse. Do something, show some kind of accountability and concern--this is how you treat people.
So you done buying savart?
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Re: Corked Champagne--what is the right recourse?

#50 Post by Charlie Carnes » December 20th, 2018, 8:51 am

larry schaffer wrote:
December 20th, 2018, 7:51 am
Charlie,

The problem remains that if consumers consider corked wines 'a part of life', nothing will ever change . . .

We truly have no idea what actual TCA rates exist these days because:

1) Most consumers still do not know what a corked wine is or smells like
2) Many consumers who do know how to pick one out just chalk it up as 'part of life' rather than letting the companies know about the faulty product

Just something to think about.

Cheers.
As I said, I always try to let the producer (and retailer) know, and always "flaw" and notate a corked wine on CT. To say that something is a 'part of life' is not to say that nothing will change. That is proven by this thread and many others. Luckily we have CT, WB et. al. to sound the clarion and alert producers and customers alike to TCA and other flaws. But in the end TCA and other flaws will always be a part of wine life.

As to TCA rates, you are right, many don't know or care, especially in slightly affected bottles. I have seen many people happilly drink mildly corked (and other flaws) Champagne/Sparkling wine and be none the wiser. Its the tree falls in the forest and doesn't make a sound proverb. It would be pretty cool to see a flaw rate graph or something like it on CT, but, again, like you say, some people cannot perceive the flaw, some don't know one defect from another, others have disparate sensitivity rates, not to mention myriad provenance factors...
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