U.S. Private Brand Wines Win Big at the International Salute to Excellence Awards

U.S. supermarket private brand wines, once considered to be poorly made and rarely worth drinking, scored a major success at the 2019 International Salute to Excellence awards in Amsterdam, winning seven top honors. To see all results for the 2019 judging, visit www.plmasalute.com/wine-awards. The international Salute to Excellence Wine Awards are a competition sponsored by the Private Label Manufacturers Association.

The award-winning wines were:

  • From Aldi: Evanta Malbec 2017 (Argentina, $4), best value; Scarlet Path Zinfandel 2017 (Lodi, $8), best quality; Outlander Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (Paso Robles, $9), best quality.
  • From Costco: Kirkland Signature Bordeaux Supérieur 2016 (Bordeaux, $10), best quality; Kirkland Signature Asolo Prosecco NV (Italy, $10). best
  • From Trader Joe’s: Trader Joe’s organic Grower’s Reserve Merlot 2017 (California, $5), best quality; Trader Joe’s Platinum Reserve Pinot Noir 2017 (Russian River Valley, $15), best

This is the best performance ever recorded for wines sold exclusively by U.S. grocers, more than doubling the number of 2018 winners. The showing demonstrates that U.S. private brand wines continue to get closer to their European counterparts in terms of value and quality – especially among wines costing less than $15. This matters because wines that are sold exclusively by European supermarkets have long been considered among the best wine in the world at combining those two things.

“Don’t overlook private label store wines,” said Washington Post wine columnist Dave McIntrye, one of 18 international judges who participated in the 2019 wine awards program. “These were good value, high-quality bottlings. Some stores are doing a great job sourcing really good juice.”

Wines were judged in 25 categories by varietal, style, and appellation, and each category was judged for the best quality and best value. The 18 men and women who judged the competition came from around the world and included Masters of Wines, sommeliers, winemakers, wine writers, wine educators, and retailers. They judged 350 wines from 40 retailers in 11 countries.

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Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.