Winefuture finally gets into gear
Friday 13 November
It took half of the conference to get going, but finally Winefuture is looking to the future with some interesting insights and opinion. However, there’s still terrible wifi access and, unsurprisingly, things aren’t running to time. Next time, I’d like to see this gig held in Switzerland.
This morning’s session on emerging markets really gave us food for thought. Don St Pierre Jr, CEO of ASC fine wines gave us his insight into the Chinese market, which is the next big thing for the wine industry and should’ve had more time spent on it. One of his main points was that many producers have high hopes of breaking the Chinese market but have little understanding of the Chinese market or the fragmented system of distribution, which means they end up being disappointed when they try.
St Pierre Jr added: “For the import market to be more promising the quality of domestic wine needs to improve. That will not happen until the domestic players are focused less on volume and packaging. It will be led by smaller wineries and the bigger wineries will be forced to produce better quality.” Unfortunately, this won’t happen overnight.
What about the Russian market? There were very few predictions by the Dimitri Pinsky, founder of a major Russian wine distributor DP-Trade, because the government has just appointed a committee to look at the re-introduction of a state monopoly on alcohol. The committee is due to report back in March 2010 and until that time there seems little point in making predictions.
The Russian government is trying to stamp out alcohol abuse and it thinks it can do this by imposing a state monopoly. Pinsky said: “Alcohol abuse is not a new thing in Russia.”
“But the truth is from 2005 alcoholism has fallen to the lows of 1990 after Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign in 1985 and 1986.
“It looks artificial and suspicious that the volume of the alcohol market looks attractive and is now worth nationalising”.
Winefuture limps into action
Thursday 12 November
Winefuture should’ve started with a bang – it was more like a wet weekend.
I can’t say it’s been that enlightening. There haven’t been many new and interesting things said to be honest with you. I am covering the event for a number of magazines and boy oh boy has it been hard to find anything really newsworthy.
Plenty of speakers have had their chance to unabashedly promote their company – Xavier Pages, CEO at Codorniu told us about his grandfather and the history of the company for the first ten minutes before he actually got to something interesting. And while I like Stephen Spurrier his speech on the future of wine writing was a Decanter advertorial. The twitterati at the event had a field day. The magazine should’ve sent a real journalist like Adam Lechmere or Guy Woodward (editors) who could’ve made a real contribution to the debate.
I sloped off before the “How to improve sales and consumption through fairs and competitions” but from all the tweets, it seems that I didn’t miss much. Rob McIntosh of wineconversation.com tweeted from the event: “BREAKING NEWS: Mel Dick announces a wine event in Florida experienced great weather”
If I had been paying for the ticket, I might be feeling robbed by now if it weren’t for Ryan Opaz of Catavino and Gary Vaynerchuk livening the day up
Nevertheless I’ve met a lot of old and new faces, which is great, and I’m ever the optimist for a better day tomorrow.
Quotes of the day
“People are obsessed with wine scores…scores have become involuntary sellers of wine or a defence tribunal for consumers” - Jose Penin, founder of Penin guides
I don’t give a crap about about facebook and twitter but I care about consumers. “You should be embarrassed if you don’t recognised that this platform allows you to talk to them.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
“Bordeaux Grands Crus are the Champs Elysee of Bordeaux but also the Silicon Valley”- Matthieu Chardronier, CEO CVBG Dourthe
Twitter, facebook and an Italian restaurant
Friday 21 August
The clever people at L’Anima restaurant have come up with the great stunt of getting the world and his wife to vote for new wines on its list.
They’ve enlisted the help of Robert McIntosh, who specialises in social media as well as working for Rioja producer Dinastia Vivanco, to coordinate the event. Six experts including L’Anima’s sommelier and Anthony Rose (my invite must be lost in the post!) will taste a range of wines on Monday. The judges must then argue their case for the wines on youtube for the public to decide. The three wines with the most twitter/facebook votes will then win a place on the restaurant’s list.
This is a great idea. It gets consumers involved in selecting the wines they are going to drink plus gives a sneak peek into the sniffy world of sommeliers.
Oh, and it makes great publicity. I can safely say we’ll see plenty of copycat versions in the coming months.
Here’s the L’Anima link for you to get voting on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Wine fair round up
Thursday 14 May
Three days, two sore feet and one headache later, the London Wine Fair is over. Thank the Lord.
So what have been the news highlights of the fair? Bibendum’s social networking seminar was an eye-opener and now I’m scared by how much more there is beyond blogging and tweeting. There aren’t enough hours in the day. I am tweeting now - see my Twitter page here - so become a follower and I’ll keep you updated with the latest stories as soon as I get them.
If you are already a follower of the Gibb Gospel, you’ll have been one of the first to hear David Cox is taking over as the head of Wines of New Zealand. I’m so pleased for him and it’s a good appointment. I can’t wait to see how it works out with twin brother Michael Cox as head of Wines of Chile UK and David at the Kiwi helm. I’ve suggested a dance off between Chile and New Zealand with Michael renowned for being the wine world’s John Travolta/Michael Flatley..
Also interesting to see Tyrrell’s won’t be bottling any 2008 reds this year (check out decanter.com for my story). It’s likely other producers including Hope won’t be bottling any reds either and will move straight on to the 2009 when it’s ready.
And the wines? Well, a fellow first year on the MW course is a proud Slovenian, so he persuaded me to visit the Verus winery stand. And I was pleasantly surprised. After being shown where Slovenia was on the map (geography never was my best subject), I discovered a top notch Sauv Blanc and an interesting Furmint. The labels are cool are modern too. Go Slovenia!
Sorry to name drop, but I got to taste Penfold’s Grange 2004. The joys of being a journalist. Bloody marvellous. It’s one of those wines that lures you in, then makes you happy for the rest of the day.It’s nowhere near ready yet having just been released. But if you are looking for something drinking well, the new Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling is gorgeous with a honeyed nose, and loads of lime and fruit salad. At 11.5%, you can drink a whole bottle. It’s been repackaged and comes in an old-school brown Alsatian bottle with a 70s label.
Anyway, that’s all folks. Heaps more to report but I’ll do that over the coming week. Time to put my two sore feet up and take an aspirin.