Last weekend a glossy wine catalogue dropped out of my local paper. It was called Dan Murphy’s Fine Wine Buyer’s Guide summoning wine drinkers to have a read, and hopefully visit their nearby supermarket wine store to find a bargain.

Maybe we’d call 2006 Mouton Rothschild @ AUD 999.00 a bargain because many of the indent schemes offered it for AUD 1250 when it arrived over the past few months.

Opening the front cover we discovered five gents who are Dan’s wine panel – with glass in hand of course and decked out in white laboratory coats which the big wine shows still use.

I’d expect these guys live in Melbourne where they preside over something like 40 percent of Australian wine which goes on sale in this country. Any winemaker trying to sell to them needs to trek to Dan’s head office to make submissions.

In fact, these guys are the gatekeepers who keep as much wine out of their Woolworths stores as they let in these days with the existing over-production.

I did a Google search for Peter Nixon, Gary Braidner, Steven Creber, Richard Moore and Tony Titheridge, the five men highlighted as wine judge/experts. I have to report that I came up with little information.

Peter Nixon is reported as an important cog in Qantas wine service in the sky before joining Dan. That program has been very successful for Brand Australia wine. Mr Nixon’s specific efforts are not known to me although I suspect it was a gatekeeper role because it was easier to land an interview with the Pope than supply a wine on Qantas, and still is.

Gary Braidner came up on a Google search as a Fine Wine Category Manager who had been an associate judge at the 2007 Boutique Wines of Australia wine competition.

So I guess this wine panel spends its time internalising on its wine choices rather than being out there in the public eye as agreed experts as the Dans Guide might have us think.

What’s in the guide? Well the sub-standard New Zealand sauvignon blanc flooding our domestic producers efforts were not there. It is interesting to note however that a full page advertisement appeared for Cloudy Bay, including the famous sauvignon blanc 2009 at AUD 29.90.

Where many Kiwi sauvignons have fallen to around AUD 10-15, and some Dans direct buys reach down to AUD 6.99, the marketers at Moet-Hennessey keep this kiwi idol at a premium price, and it is seen to sell for up to AUD 35 in some high-end stores.

Curiously, writer James Halliday wrote very positively about the same wine last weekend, also quoting it sell price as AUD 24.95 which must be a typo as clearly nobody beats Dans on price!

Dan’s guide has two pages featuring Bordeaux wines – arguably among some of the most overpriced wine around for what it is – cabernet etc. However Dans prices look quite good value and I recommend to pick up a bottle if you have not tried Bordeaux red before. All the wines under AUD 100 look terrific value.

My colleague Andrew Caillard MW, then a principal at Langtons the auction house, and based in Sydney was directly involved in purchasing indent Bordeaux 2006 a year after they were made.

Andrew is billed in this Guide as a guest contributor and has played a more recent role in wine education amongst Dans fine wine staff.

Since then Woolworths have purchased Langtons and gained some price advantage, the same as any direct Langtons customers who paid for the wines in 2007, and received them over the past few months.

Have a read of the Guide or find it on

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