Is Bordeaux a wine brand?

by Eve Resnick on June 2, 2010

in General

A few days ago, I was talking with one of my MBA students on Bordeaux as a brand. The question was: Should Bordeaux brand itself like Champagne?  By branding its region, Champagne allowed small family owned properties to shine and sell their wines. The region leaders, the famous Krug, Bollinger and other Ruinart, did not hide the many little Champagne houses. On the contrary, under the umbrella brand, every brand was able to shine.  Champagne developed a very creative image of happiness, party and pleasure.

Would such a strategy be possible in Bordeaux? Bordeaux has the privilege of having many Classified Growths – about 5% – leading the way in term of image and price. Hidden behind this massive tree, there is a forest of small properties and estates. Some of them have a very hard time surviving and selling their wines at a decent price.  In the mind of many international consumers, Bordeaux means “quality” and “expensive”. The down side of this excellent reputation is that, when seeing a Bordeaux wine sold around $10, the consumer thinks it can not be a good Bordeaux wine because too cheap.

Is there a solution to this problem? I’m not an economist, just a marketer. As such I would answer: “Change your image”. At $10, a Bordeaux can be a very good wine. There were some efforts made at changing the image of Bordeaux in the US. Did you hear of “Bordeaux MatchMaking“? It is such a fun idea as explained on the web site : “Just tell us who you are, your interests and the wine you enjoy and we will match you with the Bordeaux wine that best suits your palate. You’ll get to enjoy this amazing evening with a group of new friends who share your way of life and most of all, your interest in affordable Bordeaux. Wine experts will be present during the evening to answer all of your questions, while our hostesses will ensure your group has an unforgettable experience. The soirees will all take place at exclusive venues in Boston, Chicago, NYC and Miami.”

“Bordeaux wines are meant to celebrate everyday occasions”, says the tagline. A little like Champagne ? What kind of Bordeaux wines ? Red, white, rosé ? All of them? In fact it seems a little difficult to match one Bordeaux with one occasion. Bordeaux wines are so different and complex it is hard to pair an occasion and a wine: birthday and white ? party and red ? pizza party and rosé ? Do you understand what I mean ? The complexity, the variety and the number of styles of wines make it a marketing nightmare.

Bordeaux is not a wine brand, not even a potential one but there are many wine brands in Bordeaux you should enjoy in every occasion. Cheers!

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