Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

The Asda promise

Published:  18 January, 2007

Asda has come out of its shell and held its first wine tasting for two years. The invitation arrived with a week to go (bad form).

It was held on a day with at least six other tastings (very bad form).

And, having plumped for new appointees Freud PR, Asda has - with the exception of the time Westbury Communications had the business - again chosen a glam PR agency which knows little about the wine industry (utterly incredibly crass bad form).

Perhaps Freud was hired for the wider Asda or Wal-Mart account; but Asda needs to listen to Sue Stamps who once ran Safeway's tastings, who is now consulting on the wine side for them.

Given the absurdly short notice, I was surprised to see Anthony Rose, Joanna Simon, Tim Atkin and a few other hacks there.

But I was even more surprised to glimpse the malodorous shape of a renowned freeloader, whom I shall not dignify by naming, who downed six glasses of white and then took himself off to the lunch room at the retentious Covent Garden private club in hich the tasting was held where he could gorge on Asda's packaged sliced meats.

Freud is new to the freeloading game where wine tastings are concerned, but I assume Ms Stamps will strike off those invitees who are not authentic parasites (like me).

The wines at the sub-3 level were shallow and clumsy. But at the more expensive own-label end, with stuff like a 6.98 Coonawarra Cabernet bearing all the hallmarks of Katnook's deft manipulation, there was flair and value.

The retailer is aping its rivals in offering a higher cost niche, here called Extra Special, of which the wine just mentioned is an example.

Mercifully this puffery is so small on the label that only Asda boozers who go shopping with magnifying glasses will spot it, but it joins Morrisons The Best, Tesco's The Finest, and Sainsbury's Taste the Difference, of which only the latter shows any imagination as it actually promises something.

Gone are the days when Nick Dymoke-Marr ran the show at Asda and stocked Coteaux du Layon 1979 at 6.79 and Hill-Smith Old Triangle Barossa Riesling 1989 at 3.99 but, in spite of all the difficulties facing her, I wish Ms Philippa Carr,

now in charge, the best of luck.

Malcolm Gluck, former wine columnist of The Guardian and best-selling author of the Superplonk titles, is a freelance writer.