The heated supermarket wars have spilt over into the sale of Australia's most prestigious and luxurious wine, Penfolds Grange, with bottle shops owned by Coles and Woolworths, and new player Costco, jostling to offer the lowest price possible for the latest release of Penfolds Grange 2007.
The 2007 Grange will be released on Thursday morning nationwide and is one of the most anticipated wine releases of the year.
US discount giant Costco, which has three warehouse stores in Australia, is yet to even receive its allocation of the latest Grange from Penfolds. Costco is believed to have concerns about the timing of the wine's arrival to its warehouses.
Early investigations before the big launch have found that Dan Murphy's, the big-box liquor store owned by Woolworths, will look to sell the latest Penfolds Grange release at about $580 a bottle, against the recommended retail price set by Penfolds of $625 a bottle. A Dan Murphy's staff member confirmed initial pricing but added the price could change.
Not to be outdone, Vintage Cellars, owned by Coles, is looking to match that offer. One of its inner-city Melbourne stores has an internal price of $622.22 slated for the Grange, but is likely to change the price at the time of its release.
A spokesman for Coles told BusinessDay that the company would not release pricing for the 2007 Grange before it landed in stores but was confident it would be competitive in the market. Dan Murphy's is a big-box format whereas Vintage Cellars is a convenience and smaller format store.
Costco, the new entrant into the Australian supermarket and grocery sector, will attempt to trump them all and in the United States is well known as a leading retailer of luxurious and high-priced wines to its club members.
Such is the excitement around the release of the latest iconic Grange, Dan Murphy's has put up a countdown clock on its website with both Woolworths and Coles-owned bottle shops investing in extra marketing and in-store events to attract customers.
Some stores will also hold larger events on the weekend to bring in crowds. It is also expected that both Coles and Woolworths will advertise widely in newspapers as they circle each other around pricing the 2007 Grange.
The recommended retail price set by Penfolds is only just that, a recommendation, and the wine group has no power to enforce a floor on the latest 2007 vintage. When the 2006 Penfolds Grange was released it had a recommended retail price of $599 a bottle, although the supermarket chains quickly fought it out to have the lowest price.