Mr Grumpy: deceptive packaging

Spotted on a wine shop shelf. A bottle of wine with a front-label that read “Montana 2017 Sauvignon Blanc”. Where do you think the grapes were grown?

  1. Marlborough
  2. Gisborne
  3. Australia

Full marks if you said Australia, but I doubt many people would point to the big island across the ditch.

Montana Wines was for many years this country’s largest wine producer. The Montana Wines brand is as Kiwi as Buzzy Bee, Jaffas and Fred Dagg. When Montana pioneered winemaking in Marlborough and planted sauvignon blanc, a grape variety that now earns more than one billion dollars in export revenue and accounts for 75% of wine exports, they further strengthened the brand’s New Zealand identity.

Montana, now Pernod Ricard NZ, later re-branded to Brancott Estate to avoid confusion with the State of Montana in the US. Fair enough. But the Montana brand still had legs and continued to operate on the domestic market albeit with a reduced presence.

Now the bombshell announcement that Montana 2017 Sauvignon Blanc and all future vintages will be made from Australian grapes. Furthermore, the country of origin is on the back label. Perfectly legal but, in my opinion, deceptive.

You’re dashing around the supermarket and need something fresh and fruity for dinner. Sauvignon Blanc – perfect. NZD $9.99 – good price! Montana – must be Marlborough. Who checks the back label?

I guess I shouldn’t pre-judge a wine I have yet to taste, but it’s a fact that bulk Australian sauvignon is cheaper than bulk Marlborough sauvignon. There’s a reason for the price difference – Australian sauvignon blanc is, by and large, inferior.

6 thoughts on “Mr Grumpy: deceptive packaging”

  1. Bilbo Baggins says:

    Kiwi whine, sour grapes mixed with an inferiority complex.

  2. Barry Johns says:

    Bob,
    Mr Grumpy is on the money as usual! I concur with your opinion: particularly given that most consumers have little regard for the back label on a bottle of wine. They tend to buy on brand name and price – particularly price these days.
    An Australian savvy is not going to have anything like the flavour profile of that of a traditional Marlborough sauvignon blanc which helped sustain the original Montana brand. Pernod Ricard clearly do not have any feeling or sensitivity for the original brand and it’s relevance to the NZ wine industry and consumers.

  3. John Overton says:

    Montana Sauvignon Blanc should go well with Rocky Mountain Oysters!

  4. Huon Hooke
    Huon Hooke says:

    Dear Bob, We buy an awful lot of your savvy, why not buy a little bit of ours back? You might even enjoy it!

    1. Dr Hylton Le Grice says:

      As a Member of the Board of Montana Wines for 14 years, and having a proud association with Montana, just as with Bob Campbell MW who worked with Montana in the earlier days of its amazing rise , one has to wonder as to the history of Montana Wines since its $1billion ‘takeover’ by Allied Domecq in 2001, and then subsequently purchased by Pernod Ricard. At that time Montana owned circa 60% 0f the NZ Wine Indus1try . Bad enough to see its excellent ‘brand’ title of Montana dissipated to be renamed Brancott, the selling off of some wonderful Gisborne Vineyards, its sale of the outstanding Lindauer Brand to Lion, etc. etc. – but to now see Australian Wine in bottles labelled Montana, and only the ‘back label’ stating that it is Australian wine – ( especially Sauvignon Blanc first planted by Montana as the ‘trailblazer’ in Marlborough on the 24th August 1973) – must be the ‘scraping of the bottom of the barrel ‘in loyalty, and sensibility , and one of the most notably sad moments in then amazing history of the Wine Industry in New Zealand. Regarded by Pernod Ricard seemingly as purely a commercial money making operation, rather than the integrity and energy that generations of Owners, Viticulturists, and talented Winemakers have given to the proud and accomplished NZ wine industry. Shame on you Pernod Ricard .

  5. John Hancock says:

    Not sure that Jaffas is a Kiwi brand?

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