Premier Cru and John Fox

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Todd Spooner
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Premier Cru and John Fox

Post by Todd Spooner » Tue Oct 13, 2015 9:02 am

Jeff - in the past you have been a supporter of Premier Cru in Berkeley, CA and say that you have received 100% of all wines ordered from them. You have also been an advocate of grey market wines. Please correct me if I'm wrong about either of those two statements.

It seems like PC has been under a lot of heat lately with the article in the New York Times and a lot of customers screaming about slow or undelivered wine. Personally, I am still waiting on a considerable quantity of 2010 Bordeaux and, like others, have heard various stories over time as to when I'll finally get it or why I've not received it yet. Are you still a supporter of this company and/or grey market wine in general? On a related note, how can one have confidence in or determine the authenticity of grey market wine?

Todd Spooner

P.S. Your reports and reviews are consistently terrific.

Jeff Leve
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Re: Premier Cru

Post by Jeff Leve » Tue Oct 13, 2015 10:53 am

Hi Todd

Thanks for the post. Yes, Premier Cru is a hop topic on wine boards all over the Internet theses days. Clearly, they deserve criticism for their slow delivery and worse communication.

And if those suits are as claimed, that's a big problem for them as well. But just because one person, or person files a suit, does not meant their complaint is the truth, or the full story.

On the Internet today, there are two common posters writing about John Fox and Premier Cru, related to their on going wine business. On one side of the coin, you have numerous customers that have all reported receiving their wine, often at low prices, much lower than any other retailer or auction has offered to sell those same wines before. Those customers were forced to wait longer than they should have. Months and often years. But the wines arrived the overwhelming vast majority of the time. The few wines they did not arrive, those customers were offered replacement value or more for their unfilled wine order. Those customer out number the anti Premier Cru posters.

On the other side of the coin regarding the ongoing business of Premier Cru and John Fox, you have a small core of the same posters again and again that are quite loud. Those posters seem to either have never been customers of Premier Cru, are no longer costumers of Premier Cru, or worse, are other wine stores that are in direct competition with Premier Cru. I get it. They have difficulties selling the same wine, when it is available at Premier Cru for less money. Regardless, that is a big conflict of interest for them to discuss their competition.

In my own opinion, I do not care how John Fox and Premier Cru obtains my wine, nor where they buy it from etc, etc. What I do care about is that they deliver my wine. I have had to wait longer than I should have been forced to wait for delivery on more occasions than I like. But I paid a low price, much less than I would have had to pay for a timely delivery. I am OK with that personally. I prefer saving money. The goal is to pay less and buy more,, or better wine. It is not to pay more money. I have been buying from John Fox and Premier Cru since 2000. That is almost a 16 year track record. So for me that works.

I have friends that do not want to wait for deliveries. So, for them, discounts are not worth the aggravation.

You also asked about the gray market. The gray market helps the consumer most of the time. Gray market wines are simply wines that were bought and wold that did not go through the licensed importer. For wines with an exclusivity, for example. DRC, Guigal La La's, Petrus, Chapoutier, Coche Dury and always going to be much cheaper when they are gray marketed. because the true importer does not get all the markup. We live in a capitalistic world and price matters. I want to pay less money for wine, not more money. Importers want to make more money, not less. I get it.

Bottom line, should Premier Cru manage to settle their litigation issues, and I believe and hope they do, wine buying consumers are that prefer low prices, coupled with aggravation, will continue to buy wine from John Fox an Premier Cru.

Please feel free to ask me any other question you like. I am more than open on the topic. You or others are welcome to reply.

Todd Spooner
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Re: Premier Cru and John Fox

Post by Todd Spooner » Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:38 pm

Thanks, Jeff, for an excellent review of the situation. Your perspective is the same as mine - I want to buy the same wine for less or better wine for the same price. And, especially for wines that I wouldn't open for many years, I don't care if it takes long to get to me, as long as it finally does! In the meantime, it can be quite a ride on the wheel of credit default risk. And the gray market - if it is the same wine and the provenance is right, more power to the entrepreneur that figured out how to get it to us cheaper!

It is true that they're rating on Yelp, for instance, is miserably low. But if you read the commentary on many of those posts it is often people that have been waiting a year or less for pre-arrival wine. That doesn't strike me as excessively long for what is effectively futures.

Final question, Jeff: Do they grease the squeaky wheel? I'd hope that wouldn't be the case.

Jeff Leve
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Re: Premier Cru and John Fox

Post by Jeff Leve » Tue Oct 13, 2015 1:07 pm

Todd Spooner wrote:Thanks, Jeff, for an excellent review of the situation. Final question, Jeff: Do they grease the squeaky wheel? I'd hope that wouldn't be the case.
Happy to answer Todd. But what are you asking? I am not sure I understand your question...

Todd Spooner
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Re: Premier Cru and John Fox

Post by Todd Spooner » Tue Oct 13, 2015 1:12 pm

It's been implied by some that the wine magically shows up when they start grousing - i.e. they are pushed up in priority. I'm wondering if that is truly the case.

Jeff Leve
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Re: Premier Cru and John Fox

Post by Jeff Leve » Wed Oct 14, 2015 5:21 am

Todd Spooner wrote:It's been implied by some that the wine magically shows up when they start grousing - i.e. they are pushed up in priority. I'm wondering if that is truly the case.
I have no idea Todd. But it's easy to do and it can't hurt... :mrgreen:

What wine are you waiting on?

Todd Spooner
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Re: Premier Cru and John Fox

Post by Todd Spooner » Wed Oct 14, 2015 8:26 am

Waiting on all 2010 First Growths, Pichon Baron, and Cos d'Estournel.

Blake Brown
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Re: Premier Cru and John Fox

Post by Blake Brown » Fri Oct 16, 2015 1:00 am

I too have been a long time and limited pre arrival buyer from PC and have finally reached the point of not wanting to go through the constant follow up and follow through process to keep track of my orders after receiving approximate dates of shipping and then months and years later still waiting.
A most recent offer for magnums of Krug Grande Cuvee at just over $200 was almost enough to dissuade me from abstaining, but I had a second thought and chose not to go for it.
I do have some friends who have been waiting for over 5 years for wines that were supposedly a few months out upon initial order. Not good and certainly conducive to bad karma and legal actions from those who are inclined.
As an aside, provenance also plays a huge part in this instance and I have had some wines that were suspect as to how they were handled, stored, shipped, etc. Also not good.
I wish PC and all who have outstanding orders well including my 2 year+ wait for 04` Taittinger Comtes de Champagne.

Jeff Leve
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Re: Premier Cru and John Fox

Post by Jeff Leve » Fri Oct 16, 2015 7:45 am

Blake Brown wrote:I too have been a long time and limited pre arrival buyer from PC and have finally reached the point of not wanting to go through the constant follow up and follow through process to keep track of my orders after receiving approximate dates of shipping and then months and years later still waiting.
A most recent offer for magnums of Krug Grande Cuvee at just over $200 was almost enough to dissuade me from abstaining, but I had a second thought and chose not to go for it.
Blake... I saw that offer from Premier Cru I am sorry I did not buy it. That is such an amazing deal. The trade for paying close to 40% off is you wait and you're frustrated. Else, you pay retail. I am in no hurry, so I take the discount on wines I really want to buy.

Howard Cooper
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Re: Premier Cru

Post by Howard Cooper » Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:15 pm

Jeff Leve wrote: On the other side of the coin regarding the ongoing business of Premier Cru and John Fox, you have a small core of the same posters again and again that are quite loud. Those posters seem to either have never been customers of Premier Cru, are no longer costumers of Premier Cru, or worse, are other wine stores that are in direct competition with Premier Cru. I get it. They have difficulties selling the same wine, when it is available at Premier Cru for less money. Regardless, that is a big conflict of interest for them to discuss their competition.
Jeff, it has also been my sense that this is not just Premier Cru. That anytime anyone is trying to get wine to you by bypassing the three tier system and offering a lower price, the trade jumps on any excuse to scare people into not buying from that source. Generally, the easiest way to buy wine is go to a retail store, pick up a bottle and bring it home. But, generally this is not the cheapest way to do so.

Jeff Leve
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Re: Premier Cru and John Fox

Post by Jeff Leve » Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:39 pm

Howard... Those low prices cause problems for the other retailers. So they are among the biggest, negative posters about Premier Cru on the Internet. And you are 100% right when it comes the grey market wines as well. The distributors, importers and retailers hate all those evil grey marketers providing wines for less money to customers. I want to pay less for wine, not more. But that's just me.

Admittedly, Premier Cru offers poor customer service. And they are not the best at communications with customers. But the bottom line is, they do deliver the wines they sell, and some of those wines are much less money than other retailers charge. One needs to determine if the wait and aggravation is worth the discount.

Have you bought anything laterly?

Howard Cooper
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Re: Premier Cru and John Fox

Post by Howard Cooper » Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:03 pm

Jeff Leve wrote:Howard... Those low prices cause problems for the other retailers. So they are among the biggest, negative posters about Premier Cru on the Internet. And you are 100% right when it comes the grey market wines as well. The distributors, importers and retailers hate all those evil grey marketers providing wines for less money to customers. I want to pay less for wine, not more. But that's just me.

Admittedly, Premier Cru offers poor customer service. And they are not the best at communications with customers. But the bottom line is, they do deliver the wines they sell, and some of those wines are much less money than other retailers charge. One needs to determine if the wait and aggravation is worth the discount.

Have you bought anything laterly?
Most of what I have purchased more recently not from local stores has been from Envoyer and Flickinger. At the moment, I only have a couple of bottles on order from Premier Cru.

Howard Cooper
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Re: Premier Cru and John Fox

Post by Howard Cooper » Fri Oct 30, 2015 10:53 am


Jeff Leve
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Re: Premier Cru and John Fox

Post by Jeff Leve » Fri Nov 13, 2015 8:25 am

I saw it Howard. But thanks for posting it. Being the optimist, I'm hoping they use the cash to get out front and ahead of their issues. I'm expecting a shipment of most of my wines to be delivered next week. The few wines not in the shipment are fairly recent orders. This shipment brings them up to date.

I'm not amazed by all the hits they are taking, but what does amaze is the conflict of interest from retailers posting and not one person is calling that out. Of course the retailers want the worst for Premier Cru wines, because their low prices makes it hard to sell at retail.

Count me in as another customer that has just received their back orders as promised. FWIW, most of the wines in this shipment were from their 30% to 50% discount offerings. It's amazing how many people in this thread continue stating they have received their wine, or took and received replacements for the wines they ordered. Yet, posters with no orders from them, and other retailers continue beating them, issuing dire warnings.

Yes, PC has never won any awards for service for speed. And I agree, the bashing they have received was brought on by their own actions in most regards.

But when you're buying wines at half price, or at least lower than the competition, what were you expecting? If you want fast delivery with good service, pay more. If you are willing to wait and want low prices, you have that option as well.

I have no idea how their business model works. Frankly, as long as I get the wine I ordered, for often silly low prices, I do not care. Buying from PC is not for everyone. I have always understood that. I hope they survive the run on the bank as paying less for wine has always appealed to me.

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Re: Premier Cru and John Fox

Post by Rcolacurto » Thu Dec 17, 2015 5:36 am

Does anyone have any further information on Premier Cru? Their website still works but they aren't taking calls or returning calls or emails. are they out of business?

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