With weather improving everyday, pink wine is more and more visible on restaurant tables and in people’s homes. Is it the new wine color? For many years, in Europe, pink wines were considered as “non wines”, i.e. wines for people who didn’t know anything about wine. Then, it was considered as the “wine for women”, i.e. wine being a man’s business, women could not understand what was good for them. And then, surprise, in 2008, a study run by the International Associated Women in Wine Organization showed that women liked their wine red and tannic. The American market did not show much interest in the color, except for white zinfandel while young female Japanese professionals fell for pink Champagne, such as the gorgeous Brut Nature Zero Dosage Rosé by Drappier.
What is the situation now? The ambiguity of the color itself contributes to a lot of misapprehensions and misunderstandings. In the French tradition, for example, pink wine is traditionally a blend of several grapes, such as grenache, cinsault or mourvedre. In the US, the few pink wines I drank lately were very often blended from one single grape, mostly syrah or grenache. It happened that this year I received several French pink wines (we call them “rosés”) made from one single grape – one from syrah and the other one from grenache. I enjoyed the Syrah Rosé by Camas, also available in Bag-in-the-Box container. Ogier, the famous Rhone Valley wine producer, also made a traditional rosé blend, with 60% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 15% syrah, 10% mourvedre sold in supermarkets, like the Camas brand.
The fact that blended rosés, very gastronomic and fine, are able to find room on the shelves of supermarkets along with a BIB Syrah rosé, means that the consumers’ tastes are evolving. More open to novelty, French consumers are now ready and willing to explore a different road besides the famous “rosé de provence.”
In 2011, The Wine Management Institute of Dijon, in Burgundy, France launched a 5-year study on international wine blogs under my direction with the help of our 40 to 50 students coming from all over the world. The first year (2011) was devoted to American and Chinese blogs. We are on our way for the second year (2012) studying South European wine blogs, British, Canadian and Chinese (again) wine blogs. The purpose of the research is to draw a portrait of bloggers all around the world, a typology of blogs and a first approach of digital writing all over the world. The research aimed at helping the wine professionals to get to know this new strategy of communications and academics to have a better understanding of the practical aspect of marketing in the wine industry.
To read the full study in English.
March 8 is officially our day, Women’s Day. We should pay more often a tribute to those women, wine producers or professionals, who are often the source of interesting initiatives. This article aims at mentioning just a few of those ideas or different approaches on various wine related topics. This is my way to tell them “Thank you” not only for some of the best wines I tasted but also for being great human beings and friends.
A few days ago, I received an email from Laetitia Mauriac, who owns and manages with her brother Arthur Château La Levrette in Blaye near Bordeaux, to join a group of women wine professionals. I knew Laetitia’s wines and strategy from various tastings and events. Her name is famous in France as she is the great-niece of the writer François Mauriac, who owned Château Malagar and placed many of his novels in the Bordeaux region. But Laetitia is more than the heir of a prestigious name. She is a nice, bright, creative and imaginative wine producer and woman. The label of her wines is a delight in the conservative Bordeaux world: on a white background the design of the letters and the little greyhound, elegant and delicate like Laetitia’s wines, makes the bottle stand out immediately on a shelf. Laetitia and her brother Louis are also responsible for one of the funniest video I ever saw going viral on the Web: how to seduce a woman with Château La Levrette. And the wines themselves are so good: I especially enjoy her white wine at various tastings.
During this meeting with several wine women, I was also surprised by the design of an other label, Château Saint-Barbe. According to the marketing director, Claire Lescanne, the design was the result of a study on what kind of labels women like. The idea behind it was that women are mostly buying wines and they love elegant and original labels that enhance the quality of the experience. It does not mean they are not able to make the difference between a bad wine in a nicely designed packaging and a good wine in a so-so packaging. They just enjoy a nice looking bottle: it is part of the wine experience.
During the same lunch I also met a woman who is going to open a wine store in Paris dedicated mostly to wines produced by women. The world of wine is so rich in great people I always enjoy spending a few hours talking to wine professionals.
And there are so many great women with whom I spent many delightful hours talking about and tasting wines – theirs and others’. In that very special day I would like to raise my glass to Joan Dillon, Duchess of Mouchy who opened the doors to great wines, Caroline Lestimé in Chassagne-Montrachet, Joëlle Brouard, founder and director of the Wine Management Institute in Dijon, Burgundy and many others I crossed paths with and am very grateful to. Cheers to you, ladies!
A recent study by Nielsen shows that the 2011 trend of decreasing prices for wine bottles will keep going in 2012. If this is good news for consumers, it is bad news for producers who would like nothing more than reversing the trend. But it will not be the case in 2012:
Source - Nielsen, 2012
According to Wine Market Council President John Gillespie, “One of the reasons the over-$20 segment was strong, was that there was a great deal of price discounting in that category. When people see a wine that they’ve bought before for $45 or $35, and it’s now $22.99, they buy it.”
But what drives wine sales is mostly the economy and mid price categories. If the industry is looking to increase its prices, consumers do not have the power (or the will) to pay a lot more for their bottle of wine. This statement is confirmed by Gillespie: “2012 will probably mirror 2011 in terms of consumption frequency and purchase price-points. Within that there may be some shifting, because if there are shortages in California, there are certainly no shortages in Europe, South America or Australia. But I don’t see any real changes on the horizon in terms of overall consumer behavior with wine in the U.S. in the coming 12 months.”
This situation is not the best for domestic wine producers but not good either for imported wines coming from France, South America or Australia. It means that the QPR must be very good in order to stand out and get the consumer’s interest. American wine professionals foresee only a few ways to get the bottles out of the shelves: direct-to-consumers sales through a wine club, a site or in the tasting room as well as on a “flash sale” site. 2012 will be again a good year of opportunities for the wine consumers.