Entries in wine (8)
New Year’s resolutions, (especially as an attempt to cut down our drinking consumption) are a bit like babies. They are fun to make but extremely difficult to maintain. As consumers look to embrace a healthier lifestyle this year and our MPs give guidance on alcohol intake, the channel growth for premium quality, lighter style alcoholic drink options is set to increase in 2012.
As most experts within the drinks industry would agree, implementing change to a traditional-minded sector is never without risk, especially within the off-trade. But as an active supporter of Drinkaware, it’s good to see that Sainsbury’s has taken on the challenge with a move to increase Responsible Drinking this year.
As a collaborative initiative, Sainsbury’s is working with Drinkaware, Diageo and Heineken with the aim of giving consumers a better understanding of alcohol units and calories across a wide range of wines, beers and spirits which will also include sampling, enabling customers to try lighter wines and alternative serve sizes of spirits and beer. Aiming to double sales of lighter alcoholic wine by 2020, Sainsbury’s responsible drinking campaign will highlight the variety of lighter style wines that are available (abv of 10.5 or less).
But do these low alcoholic options compare? Honestly, yes. It’s a great alternative to its big brother and bound to appeal to an increasingly health conscious and savvy consumer.
Posted by Shelly Murphy
Here at Phipps, it’s pretty obvious to state that we’re all interested in food and drink. However, this extends far beyond the four walls of our pink and white office, with many resident bloggers in our midst. Today we kick-off by chatting to Junior Account Executive and blogger Jen Gevaux (over a glass of wine, of course).
Hi Jen, tell us about yourself and the blog in 40 words
Fresh out of university, I joined Phipps as an intern in June, and then joined the team permanently in October. I’ve been an ardent blogger since February 2010 and posts can range from product reviews and food and wine matches, to travel anecdotes and informative pieces.
So why blog?
Grape Choice is all about making wine (and other drinks) accessible to those with a limited knowledge of wine. At university, I was quite new to wine, but when I came across a wine I liked or an offer that couldn’t be missed I wanted to let others know about it. Since then, my knowledge has extended (thanks to working in the industry and completing the Wine and Spirits Education Trust intermediate course) and I’ve started to be more adventurous with my choices.
Do you think blogs like yours can help the wine industry to become more accessible to consumers?
The wine aisle can be rather daunting for many people, especially when it comes to choosing a wine for someone else or when trying to impress at a dinner party. Grape Choice is my way of making it a little easier. I’m not an expert (yet) and I believe that taste is subjective – just as some people like olives and anchovies whilst others can’t stand them, the exact same can be said for different wines.
To what extent is your blog influenced by current food and drink trends?
Quite often trends dictate what we should and should not choose to eat or drink (How many of you have tried your hand at baking cupcakes over the last few years?). So many such trends can be really alienating, so although I like to keep up-to-date with what’s hot right now, Grape Choice tends to put aside those trends – my philosophy is if you like it, drink it.
By Sara Evans
Rioja is one of the most loved and best known wine regions amongst UK wine drinkers but how many of them know what goes on behind the scenes at every winery to achieve Rioja’s trademark integration of fruit and oak?
I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Spain’s most famous wine region on four press trips this year. Seeing the landscapes and soil, and getting first-hand accounts from the people on the ground in the vineyards and wineries gives you a real appreciation of the painstaking work that goes into producing each bottle that ends up on UK shelves and wine lists. At any given time around 1.2m barrels of wine – one of the highest concentrations in the world - are carefully ageing in oak before being stored in bottles at the winery until they are released to the market ready to drink. The sheer volume of wine is striking – from underground labyrinths of tunnels lined with bottles under the town of Haro to the world’s largest barrel room at Campo Viejo, millions of litres of wine are stored across Rioja.
Whether the winery philosophy is traditional and steeped in history, such as Muga, which to this day employs an in-house cooper to make the barrels, or ultra-modern, such as Baigorri, an extraordinary construction reaching seven storeys underground to ensure that every step of the winemaking process can take place using gravity, with no need for pumps, no expense is spared in ensuring that optimum quality is preserved from the vineyard right through to the bottle that ends up on the wine merchant shelf or restaurant wine list here in the UK.
Posted by Lottie West
Alcoholic drinks are always big business for the major retailers, but there’s no more important time in the retail calendar than Christmas, when we all treat ourselves to a bit of what we fancy (in my case, Bailey’s, vintage Champagne and mulled wine – not all together I hasten to add). With competition amongst the supermarkets fiercer than ever with their well-publicised price matches, we’re set to see another bumper year of drinks offers this Christmas. This is obviously great for consumers, but what is this doing to big brands’ equity?
Champagne brands have suffered a lot in recent years as half-price promotions have become commonplace in the wine aisle at Christmas. The effects on the sparkling wine category are now becoming evident, with supermarkets’ ranges now full of wines in the £8-15 bracket, including a plethora of cavas, proseccos, and New World fizz including the latest craze, Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc (commercial genius, that one!). Champagne still has its spot on the shelf but now its cut-price supermarket exclusives on offer at £15-£20 that take pride of place on gondola ends rather than top brands at full price. In this environment, how can luxury brands such as Veuve Clicquot, Moët and Bollinger persuade customers to part with £30+prices?
With a double dip recession on the cards for next year and voucher culture gripping the nation, the Grandes Marques are going to need pull out all the stops with engaging, creative and innovative marketing campaigns to maintain their loyal fan base. If they don’t 2012 may be a somewhat challenging year for the Champagne region.
Posted by Lucy Richardson
Working closely with the wine trade, it’s always sad for us to hear when an independent wine shop or national chain is struggling to stay afloat in these tough economic times. Oddbins has certainly been in trouble recently. Still, after going into administration earlier this year, 37 stores have been kept open and recently re-launched. Our ears perked up when we heard that more than 3,500 of their customers were then asked to price wines in a blind tasting which led to three wines going on sale last Friday at their customer recommended retail prices.
A good PR stunt or a genuine attempt to revive their business?
We think their efforts to overhaul the business are certainly valiant and have already generated a large amount of media coverage. However, in this ever-changing world we live in, will this be enough? With a lacklustre website and a relatively small Twitter and Facebook following, we think Oddbins should perhaps take a leaf out of their competitor, Majestic’s, book. Yes, it is now coming from a smaller base, but social media is a great leveller for brands provided they create compelling content for users to engage with. In lowering their minimum purchase from 12 bottles to six, Majestic have always been ahead of the game in terms of innovation, and now with their integrated digital campaign (each of the stores have their own Twitter feed and blog page), they are leading the way within their sector. With some promising ideas, such as giving greater freedom to store managers and categorising the wines by style rather than country, we think that Oddbins have the potential to rise from the ashes. For the time being, however, we’re holding our breath as to whether they will succeed in becoming a relevant brand once more.
Posted by Sara Evans
For many Brits, Germany is not their country of choice when wine shopping. Unless you understand basic German, the label on a bottle of Riesling - the country’s premier grape varietal - can leave you puzzled and reaching for the nearest Aussie Chardonnay. With this in mind, you’d think we’d be mad to even think about pitting German Pinot Noir (yes, red wine from Germany does exist!) against its international, highly-regarded competition.
But such was our faith in the quality of German Pinot Noir, we recruited a world-class panel of judges (and friends of Phipps to boot) including top wine writers Jancis Robinson MW (Financial Times and Purple Pages.com), Tim Atkin MW (BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen wine expert) and Matthew Jukes (Daily Mail) to taste 20 German Pinot versus 20 top Pinot Noirs from around the world, to judge for themselves. The tasting itself required the organisational skills of a military sergeant but after hours of tasting, we were thrilled to find that no less than seven German wines had made the top 10! Our audacity and insight had paid off! Even more astonishing when the final results came in a German Pinot Noir actually came third overall, beating all three Burgundy wines in the tasting! But don’t just take our word for it. Check out Jancis Robinson’s video, Tim Atkin’s fantastic article and Gabby Savage’s write up on Drinks Business, or if you’re still not convinced come back next week to watch the event’s video and see it with your own eyes.
Posted by Lucy Richardson
So AC/DC is the latest band in a long line of famous names to bring out their own wine – a smart attempt to influence a more sophisticated fan base or a ‘highway to hell’ for the winery? PR-wise it’s certainly been successful in generating column inches – a famous name always helps when it comes to the holy grail of wine coverage off the wine columns, but in terms of brand image can a celebrity wine ever really be credible? It’s far from a new phenomenon with Olivia Newton John bringing out her Koala Blue range of Australian wines back in 1983 and Gerard Depardieu – he of the recent ‘oui,oui’ scandal - working for over thirty years with French wineries. Our insight suggests that like any sponsorship or endorsement it all comes down to matching brand values and publics. Francis Ford Coppola, with a long family history of winemaking and a high-brow fan base has managed to achieve both critical acclaim and financial success for the Californian wineries that he owns. On the other hand, wine enthusiasts are likely to shun the vinous offerings of Madonna and AC/DC, but if their wines open up the world of wine to a new audience of music fans then surely it has to be a good thing, with one proviso – the quality has to match up to the price. Charging a huge premium for a poor quality wine just because it has a photo of a famous person on the front will do nothing in the long term for the image of the wine or the personality – who could forget the moment that Sir Cliff Richard described his own wine as ‘tainted and inspid’ on the ‘F-Word’?
Posted by Anna Harris-Noble