Claudine Wines (private label / negociant) discussion

I first read about claudine in the de negoce/ wine access threads some time ago and then completely forgot about it until I listened to the xchateau podcast with claudines founder this weekend (after seeing the post about the podcast in this forum). Sidenote: Ifound the claudine and some of the other episodes informative / interesting but didn’t care for all the influencer ones but it sounded like that was the hosts background (haven’t looked up who they are).

Anyway, for those unfamiliar, claudine posted their open for business announcement in commerce corner section Introducing Claudine Wines w/Special Offer - Commerce Corner - Wine Classifieds - WineBerserkers. And have a good description of who they are and how they are different from the likes of denegoce there and on their website.

I’m somewhat surprised that there has been far less discussion / TN of claudine (few in the other thread are appreciated) compared to de negoce / wine access private labels etc. (basically only buried in the denegoce and wine acccess large threads). Obviously some of it is due to the model (higher end (or at least more expensive) and less new offers etc), I’d also suspect that it is because there isn’t a dedicated thread in this forum and only the post on commerce corner which seems to get just a fraction of the traffic as wine talk). I’m assuming the principal from claudine who started that thread thought that CC was the appropriate place (but strange that is not aligned with C Hughes / denogoce which started in wine talk)

I haven’t ordered yet but am interested in further feedback on the wine and value. I like the business model better than de negoce as you can sample and then order a case or split case of those you really like (mentioned as a popular alternative on the podcast)vs blindly ordering a case. De negoce has said they are holding back cases which I assume will give the option for people to reorder those they like. However, those will be at a higher price than the original purchase. That probably wouldn’t that terrible given the already relatively lowprice point people but hard to imagine reordering in the next year if you already have a case (and can’t imagine DN storing them longer than that. Obviously I like the DN price point better and it may end up being better value once they get shipped more broadly. Claudine approaches the high end of what I prefer to pay for most wines but I may give it a shot. Another podcast tidbit was that the primary buyer was the opposite (coming down from $100 a bottle to 30-50 and getting the same experience at better value) vs someone like me.

Anyway, just thought it deserved more discussion and interested in more reviews before ordering a few

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If de Negoce never launched, I would be a big buyer of these wines. I’d be fine with my entire closet being private labels. I have tried 3 Claudine’s thus far and been happy with all 3. But the price point is much higher than de Negoce and Wine Access even so that will keep me from being a repeat buyer given I have so many cases of both de Negoce and Wine Access on order. But I can highly recommend Claudine.

Just remember that without the original producers, ‘private label’ wines wouldn’t have any value . . . [snort.gif] [cheers.gif] [soap.gif]


Larry, you have made this point many times in many threads. Wine is a for profit business. Not a 501C3. If all the wineries go out of business I’m guessing I won’t be able to buy private label wine anymore. I do not feel like I’m robbing the wine business by purchasing private label wines.

What did you try? It seems from other threads that you are very can heavy drinker and agree the only current claudine cab is on the expensive side (for me) at almost 60. However, part of the appeal for me is the Pinot / Syrah / Malbec offerings vs the primarily cab offerings of other private labels (at least so far)

Hey all,

First of all, thanks for the discussion here. I am always hesitant to jump in and come across as overly commercial.

I think there are some basic differences to our model.

First, we are not in competition with de Negoce or anyone else. We are pretty small and our business to based on relationships with a small number of high-end wineries. We are looking for 3-5 barrels (75-125 cases) at a time, not 500+ cases, which allows us to work with smaller producers and truly find their “extra barrels” or excess production.

Second, we are set up to do small orders (1-3 bottles) so you can try the wine without much risk and then come back for the case purchase, which comes with 10% off and free shipping.

Third, we started as a friends and family business only doing ~50 cases a year. We grew because we only did a project with the economics favored our customers. In the back of our mind, we think about the “Costco test.” If you can find a wine of equivalent value at Costco, we aren’t going to do. We want to beat that type of value proposition.

The last thing I will say is that I buy a lot of wine looking for the next target producer. When we approach a winery or winemaker, we want to know that they are the best quality, but that we think there is room for a partnership. We want them to know that we are buyers if the wine is the exact same as what they are putting their own label on.

Thanks for reading and I am always open for more conversation


Owner/Founder, Claudine Wines


I ordered a six pack during their WB promotion but haven’t opened any yet. Will probably open the Syrah soon (oldest of the bunch).

Excited about their value proposition compared to private labels like wine access or Cameron Hughes projects.

My point is that there is no ‘QPR’ without actual producers making these wines. You are right in that as a winery, I am in business to make money - and it is your prerogative, and great luck, to be able to purchase the wines that you do for the prices that you do. And you are under no obligation to purchase from the actual producers - again, not my point. Just pointing out some perspective - that’s all . . .

Perspective on what? That without wineries there wouldn’t be private labels? Yah.

It’s not like I’m choosing to buy slave labor t-shirts for $3 vs. honest labor t-shirts for $9. I don’t view this as a moral decision.

No value or QPR without wineries? Can’t see that logic. QPR comes from dollars for taste. If it’s really private label, the source doesn’t matter. If all wineries vanished, the vineyards would still exist. Wine would still be made by someone.

He will say he meant vineyards. Wineries = vineyards is his point. If we don’t support them at their full price point under their own labels, we are animals!

You buy anything at a discount or god forbid in bulk under a different label, savage!

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Vineyard = winery has no basis in reality. Negociants have been around in the old world forever. People have been selling grapes and other people making wine under an unknown label for a long time. Even to the point that the unknown labels have become labels.

I really think you are missing my point here. The QPRs that Cam is selling are based on wines produced by specific wineries - look at all of the time spent searching for these wines. That is why they have ‘value’ to consumers. If he were selling wines from no name wineries - or no name vineyards if you prefer - I don’t think folks would so enthusiastic about these.

And for the last time, I think these private label offerings are great all around - and enjoy it while you can.


To attempt to shift back to the original post - I would also like to see more discussion around the Claudine offers. I do appreciate the effort around DN and trying to figure out which producer it might be. I like DN for the QPR of a daily drinker type wine but I also like to enjoy a really nice bottle from time to time. I’m willing to spend more if I know I’m getting something nicer. Due to the crazy price of DN, that feels a bit more like a gamble.


I haven’t taken the plunge on Claudine wines but it would be interesting to see a blind tasting among some of the more prominent private label wines.

A group of us had 5 of the Wine Access Private Labels plus one De Negoce as part of a blind that was very illuminating.

The de Negoce clearly stood out as an inferior wine versus that lineup but I will still argue the jury is out on the wine as it had only been bottled 3 months prior.

When the de Negoce wines have enough time in the bottle to reach a reasonable point to sample, it would be fun to put up one of the better Cabs (No. 50 or No. 66, for example) versus a ~$35 Wine Access (Radio Silence, Commission, etc) versus a $40 - $60 (Oakville or Coombsville) Claudine for example.

If in a blind setting you can’t differentiate the $18 bottle from the $60 bottle, then you have an important data point. In my limited exposure the Wine Access private labels were levels superior to the de Negoce.

Hopefully someone bites the bullet and pits the Claudine wines versus the Wine Access wines.

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I may be mistaken, but I thought there was a big difference in Claudine and DN wines. I was under the impression that Claudine wines were actually private label wines with the same treatment as the original wines from the winery, bottled either right after the winery bottling or even bottled by the winery and sold as shiners to Claudine. DN, on the other hand, buys a primary lot of juice and CAM gets to act like the wine maker with oak treatment and blending decisions. I would expect to pay quite a bit less for DN than Claudine as a result.

I have only had a single Claudine–the 2018 chardonnay, which we quite liked. If I weren’t so full up in my offsite, I’d consider buying more. Have only bought two cabernets from DN, so don’t expect to try one for quite a while.

IMO claudine is as good, if not better, than the high end WineAccess private labels. Both put dN squarely in last place.

I mean, that ordering roughly mirrors their respective prices (with WineAccess discounts factored in), so not really surprising?

I have not tried any WA yet, and only one DN (#16 sauv blanc), but I can tell you that the Claudine wines I’ve had so far have been amazing. The 2016 Syrah I opened was good after a good decant (I will lay the others down for a few years) although to be fair it was a bit heavy on the oak for my taste; both the Malbec and the 2016 Pinot were outstanding. Customer service is top notch. I am surprised there isn’t more talk of Claudine on the board given how good the wines are.

Having watched the DN phenomena here, I’d say there are several key factors - a few customers have acted as nonstop cheerleaders for each release and have very effectively built a feeding frenzy (tulip mania) around Cam and the releases. Critics are shamed, actual experts are dismissed and the cheerleaders keep the pulse going much like happens with any fad product. Several (most?) of these cheerleaders have mentioned that they don’t know a great deal about wine but have declared DN wines a success even before receiving their shipments. And they have collected tens of cases of these wines even knowing they are “too young” to evaluate properly.

This sort of consumer cultism is hard to replicate — and it seems like Mr. Rutherford has chosen a very different path towards building his business. If you look at the DN discussions, for each release they are built around guessing the source of the wine as if bulk juice purchased is the same as white labeled wines made by the individual winery — and the big driver of the sale seems to be “I’m getting $50 wine for only $15 a bottle!” The appeal of getting a “deal” overtakes the other factors in the purchase (winemaker expertise, ABV, etc).

It seems that Mr Rutherford instead buys finished wines, made by their original source. No one person can be expert at making every type of wine from every type of terroir — Claudine’s reliance on the winemakers who actually know the product and have experience with it strikes me as the most important differentiator.

To me that is the difference between generic bargains and wine I look forward to drinking. I have never had either DN or Claudine wines but that difference would matter to me if I was in the market. I have certainly had cheap wine when out with colleagues for a happy hour or something but for my own purchasing, I buy from a tiny group of lists and on Berserker Day. This year during BD, I purchased a really nice selection of wines made by 7 really talented winemakers (including Larry) with years of experience with their locale and their varieties. I don’t normally measure those purchases this way since I buy wines I (and my friends) love but given the price centric discussions recently, I did a bit of math and my average BD bottle price was $14. Now that’s my type of “deal.”