Bordeaux sets out its future plans
Friday 30 July
It’s good to see Bordeaux taking the bull by the horns and admitting things have gone slightly awry for the majority of the region’s wine industry.
It has recognised that beyond the prized ‘classed growths’, the financial state and the structure of the region’s grape growers and winemakers is pretty dire. The economic crisis has precipitated their demise but it was always coming, particularly with the decline in consumption in the domestic market.
While it is widely recognised that Bordeaux is the most prestigious region in the world, the generic brand has been damaged by low quality players who provide poor value for money. Bordeaux under £10? I wouldn’t bother.
The region is too serious and elitist compared to Australia, for example. The labels are confusing and the wines can be somewhat austere when tasted next to friendly, fruit-filled New World Cabernets.
Bordeaux Tomorrow is a 27-page plan to address the region’s strengths and weaknesses on a global stage.The main points are:
-make the offer easier to read by the consumer
-enhance the level of perceived quality
-help non-competitive players to become more successful
-encourage consolidation of cooperatives
-become stronger in generic appellations
-fight counterfeit wines
The scheme will be rolled out over the next three years.
Part of the plan is to categorise the wines in a similar vein to Wine Australia. It does not have Brand Champions or Regional Heroes but Art, Exploration, Fun and Basique. This seems rather airy-fairy to me but we’ll see what they do with it. It looks like they’re going to try and select a small selection of wines in each category for particular export markets to fight the good fight.
They don’t say how much money is going to be behind this new push but they will need more than simply good intentions to make this a success.
Hennessey or Hennessy - LVMH isn’t sure
Wednesday 28 July
You’d think a company that’s made a €1.05 billion profit (+53%) in the past six months would be able to spell its own name correctly but then again, money doesn’t buy you intelligence.
So, when Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), spelled their Cognac arm ‘Hennessey’ on the first line of its first half results, I just had to pull them up about it.
The corridors of power at LVMH are long and winding and you’d expect the press release they sent out with their results would have been read and read again before the send button was pushed.
So, it’s the hall of shame for them this week. Not that they’ll care: they’re laughing all the way to the bank.
I may be poor but at least I can spell my name: Rebecca Elizabeth Gibb. See?!
Oh, and can anyone tell me why Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy is now being referred to as Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton despite still being referred to as LVMH? Surely, it should be MHLV?
Newcastle ladies love rosé & lemonade
Monday 26 July
I’ve had an abstemious weekend in preparation for a triathlon. So, I was designated driver at Newcastle races on Saturday where my dad’s horse was running (badly). Unbeknownst to us, it was ladies day and, the Geordie lasses really put on a display of What Not to Wear and spray tans. It was sponsored by Matalan which gives you some idea of the calibre of clothing on display.
You wouldn’t think the UK was still suffering economic woes, considering the amount of Champagne the bars were selling. If you are an importer or sales rep, try and get an account with a racecourse. It seems to be a goldmine.
The other drink ordered on many occasions at the bar (when I was having a glass of water – joy) was rosé and lemonade. The ladies of Newcastle have decided that pink wine spritzers are quite the thing. I’d never thought of drinking rosé spritzers before – and I’m not sure rosé producers have either. Rosé on the rocks, yes, but never with lemonade.
Rosé continues to fly in the UK. According to recent figures released by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, sales of rosé wine increased 21.4% in value in the past year, with volumes ahead by 18.4%.
WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles said: “Given the fact that sales of other wines in bars, clubs and restaurants are down over the course of the year, the big rise in rosé is all the more striking.”
“The recent good weather will have continued to boost its popularity.” Yes, Jeremy – and its new role as a spritzer.
Wine producers and retailers are always claiming they want the wine to reach the consumer as the winemaker intended but then they don’t have any control over what people add to it. I suppose rosé with lemonade is a Pimm-type quaffer on a hot afternoon and I ought to try it before dismissing it like a wine snob. So, that’s something I’ll do this week now I’ve dragged myself through a swim, bike and run.
A decade of fine wine speculation
Tuesday 20 July
What were you doing 10 years ago? I was working in a pretty swish Glasgow restaurant during my university summer break despite having no experience. I had no idea that I would end up writing about wine at that time although I seem to remember consuming plenty of vino after shifts finished.
Liv-ex, the online exchange for fine wine, had its first trade 10 years ago: five cases of 1982 Chateau Gruaud Larose 1982 at £920 per case. The same wine is now trading on the exchange at £2,500 per case, an increase of 171%. If only I had been a wine investor 10 years ago, my bank balance would have been looking rather rosy. Many wines have shown impressive returns over the last ten years, with Lafite Rothschild 1982 leading the field at 1,183% (£3,000 per case to £38,500).
Overall, prices for the Bordeaux First Growths – as measured by the Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index – have increased 276% over the period. They’ve kindly put a table together to compare the top wines to share indices and gold. But what about the next 10 years? Can we expect to see these impressive returns continue? Unlikely with the exorbitant prices of the 2009s. There’s been plenty of jumping on the speculation bandwagon, forcing prices higher and higher in the but can it continue? Lafite 1982’s seemingly unstoppable rise from £2613 in late 1999 to £25,000 in 2009 is an increase of 856.9%. In a recent copy of Wine Business International, it calculated that the same case would be worth close to £250,000 in another 10 years’ time. It all seems rather out of control and cannot continue on the steep upward curve that has been experienced after the market slipped in late 2008. Reason should prevail, surely?
Index Close (30/06/10) 1 yr move 10 yr move
Liv-ex 50 344 55% 276%
FTSE 100 4,917 18% -20%
S&P 500 1,031 12% -29%
Nikkei 225 9,408 -6% -46%
Gold (£ per oz) 833 48% 194%
Wine blogs: does anybody read them?
Wednesday 14 July
We’re all busy blogging away about wine, tweeting and recommending our wines of the week, but are consumers taking any notice?
The answer appears to be no, according to new research published by Wine Intelligence
Its research has revealed that consumers find most of their information from the supermarket shelf. It is a sad day when Tesco shelf barker has more influence on what we drink than the likes of Oz Clarke. But, probably true.
While social networking is most popular among younger wine drinkers (those between 18 and 35), Wine Intelligence has found that their interaction on Facebook, and twitter et. al. is unlikely to be about anything to do with wine. In fact, just 1 in 10 UK regular wine drinkers use social networking sites for their wine guidance two times a week or more, and only 3 in 10 UK regular wine drinkers state that they have ever used social networking sites for this purpose.
This is a disappointing figure considering the popularity of social networking, and the vast number of wine blogs.
Social media is being touted as the new way to communicate with UK wine consumers but the evidence suggests there is still some way to go. Does the UK need a Gary Vaynerchuk to set the world alight? Perhaps.