One advantage of buying direct - returning corked bottles

I had a corked 2013 Denner Grenache recently. I buy directly from Denner, just 8-10 bottles a year. Anyway, I emailed them to say I had a corked bottle, and they said they’d send one right out to me, I got it a day or two later.

This is partly to give Denner credit for great customer service and for standing behind their product, but it also illustrates one significant difference between buying this wine from the producer versus a retailer versus auction. If it’s second hand or at auction, you typically have zero recourse for the corked wine.

If it’s from retail, you may or may not get a refund, replacement or credit. If it’s a stand-up local retailer, you bought the wine recently, and you have the receipt, you’re probably good. But maybe you don’t have the receipt, maybe you bought this two or three years ago, maybe you bought it from a remote retailer on line, maybe it’s the only time you’ve purchased from them, and then…

Also, maybe you didn’t save the flawed wine and they expect you to produce it, or even if you did, you’d have to ship it to them. Do you want to seal up, box up and ship a wine across the country to get a credit for your corked bottle?

The end result is that, as I’ve shown with polls and threads I’ve started on the subject, people rarely return corked bottles (excluding ones ordered off the list in a restaurant), they just eat it as cost of doing business. That’s what I’ve almost always done - it’s just too much hassle to keep records and receipts showing where you bought everything, dealing with returning the remains, plus most bottles I open were purchased years ago and many retailers won’t accept a return (even though with TCA, it has zero to do with whether you bought it yesterday or 15 year ago).

And I suspect that’s sort of deliberate - I don’t think retailers want it to be easy to return corked bottles, otherwise it would happen a lot more often. They sometimes try to make you feel bad about it - giving you skeptical responses, tasting the wine and waffling about whether they think it’s off or not, making you wait around a long time for someone to come inspect it, saying stuff like “well this wine may just need more time” or “are you used to how these wines normally taste?” etc.

But in my very limited experience doing this, wineries you buy from regularly will take your word for it and make it right without a bunch of hoops to jump through or guilt trips. That is a really nice feature of buying from a winery, both economically and psychologically, that I think we sometimes forget when wondering about pricing vs. low retail and all.

Just a data point to share.

Nice story Chris, and it’s one of the reasons I buy direct as well.

But what do you guys think about remote direct purchases of (now) significantly aged wine? If I buy direct and hold a bottle for 10-20 years (and store it appropriately, so in a formal light/humidity/temperature/vibration controlled cellar), what are the chances that a winery will have the same excellent customer service? I imagine it might be a tough sell to say, “Hey, I bought this bottle decades ago and it’s no good, please show some love.” Does anyone have any experience with this type of scenario? To the winemakers on this forum, how would you approach this situation?

I have had similar experience with Cayuse, from whom I buy direct.

My other general experience is that retailers who know me while almost always provide credit for a corked bottle. I agree that keeping receipts etc makes it unlikely that if such is required I will return the bottle. And there are some that I just don’t bother to ask for a refund. But I have never had a retailer or direct purchase winery refuse the return of a corked bottle for a refund or other credit.

Or you can drink Lagier-Meredith. I had a 12yr old bottle I bought on WineBid that was corked. Word got out and Carole offered to replace it. There’s good and then there’s great. [cheers.gif]

Thank you for that wonderful note. I agree about buying direct and having a relationship with the winery.

Rivers Marie once sent me a replacement bottle and I didn’t even ask them! I posted a tasting note of their 4 Cabernets and one bottle was corked, so I didn’t rate it. Kaboom! The very next day, a replacement bottle showed up out of the blue via FedEx! It was very endearing and kind of them. It really made me feel part of their wine family. It made the hobby better for me. Plus, whenever I open one of their wines for my wife, she always remembers and comments to me, “Oh! This is wine from those nice people!”

It’s is nice to get replacement bottles, even if it is from a more recent vintage or wine of equal value.
Generally speaking, I eat up the cost and don’t report it anywhere online. But maybe I’ll get back in the practice of reporting again from those that replace bottles.
Amazingly, I’ve had no corked bottles in close to a year now. :slight_smile:

Corked is corked. Of course if the winemaker/administrator knows you, and knows you know what you are talking about, then they will replace the bottle. But third party purchases that are “off” or “flat” or devoid of fruit (and often offered at low prices) likely have been poorly stored and are, in my opinion, not the responsibility of the winery.

I don’t know how large wineries deal with this - probably most of them are in the distribution chain. But wineries like Lagier Meredith, RM, Piper, Myriad, etc. and I know their customer base.

I see a corked bottle in your near future. pileon
Just not the ones that you are binging to HVS. Look forward to catching up with you Peter. [cheers.gif]

Mike, I’ll do my best to find the most corked wine just for you. :wink:

As usual I’m wrong.
I did pop a corked wine within the last year. '11 Ojai, Solomon Hills, PN. And they very graciously replaced the bottle with another from their cellar.
Can’t say enough good things about Ojai and the wines they make. Between price and quality they deserve far more attention.