Keynote speakers like Paul Mabray are right to point to consumer trends and mining customer data as a way forward for the wine industry in a digital age. The industry would do well to really embrace social media. But with so much emphasis in the wine industry now being put on being at the forefront of the digital media and e-marketing world, Mike Turner argues it’s worth remembering that easy wins can be had by finally bringing more of the reluctant members of the trade into the ‘dizzy sphere’ of the World Wide Web. On a recent press visit to the Médoc, half of the 36 producers visited don’t have websites and six didn’t have email addresses.
Whilst the classic spirits categories are more than standing up for themselves, with ever more innovative and crafted products in their own right, what the 2019 IWSC Spirits Awards demonstrated was just how global the spirits world has become. This year’s competition proved to be a breakthrough, at least in terms of trophies and medals, for growing spirits categories such as pisco, mezcal, baiju and shochu. Richard Siddle takes a look at the awards and picks out the key trends all spirits buyers need to be on top of.
For everyone in the wine trade it is your worst nightmare come true – the doctor tells you to give up alcohol for good. Sure, you can still smell, swirl and taste but drinking wine is strictly verboten. This is exactly what happened to Nekter Wine’s Imogen Taylor six months ago – one minute she was pouring wine at a tasting event the next minute she was in A&E with sepsis affecting her liver so badly it was touch and go. It doesn’t matter that the condition was not caused by alcohol, but alcohol cannot be part of her foreseeable future. So what does Taylor do with all those bottles in her flat, her wine friends and a life centred around alcohol? In this personal piece she looks at how she is going to cope living without alcohol in the wine trade.
Ten years ago the missing link in the parentage of Merlot, the world’s second most planted grape, was discovered growing up the side of a house in south west France. It was on the verge of extinction but has thankfully been saved. Christina Rasmussen explains why this is important for the preservation of our heritage as well as being a source of genetic diversity in the future. After all, in 2012 the 20 most prominent grape varieties in France accounted for 91% of vineyard area whereas in 1958 the same 20 accounted for 53%. Would we want just 20 ingredients in our kitchen? Rasmussen argues quite clearly not.
Unilever’s new chief executive Alan Jope told the Cannes marketing conference recently that it “will dispose of brands that we feel are not able to stand for something more important than just making your hair shiny or your skin soft”. But Reka Haros warns so-called purpose marketing is not for all and could actually damage a company or brand’s reputation if not done properly and for the right reasons. Here she explains why.
If you were writing a history of the premium on-trade and independent wine trade over the last 30 years then Les Caves de Pyrène would have to be at the heart it. For not only did it first introduce so many of the exciting, breakthrough and dynamic organic and natural wines that are now across the sector, it actually walked the walk and opened up its own successful wine bars and restaurants. So to save someone else the time, co-founder, Doug Wregg, who lives and breathes the company’s DNA, has written his own account of Les Caves and the wine word it has grown up in. Here he explains why he did it and shares one of the extracts from the book.
Who has over a million social media followers and can claim tens of thousands of pounds for just one post, but you have never heard of them? Welcome to the world of social media influencers. Whether we like the idea of them, or want to work with any of them, we can’t ignore them. Particularly if you want to get your drinks brand in front of the right target audience. Jackie Fast gives her own personal take on what it is like to be seen as an influencer, thanks to her time on BBC’s The Apprentice, the challenges of becoming one and, in this frank account, gives her five top tips on how to work best and get the most out of social media influencers.
It’s the way they tell ’em! You don’t need to be a stand up comedian to tell a good story about your business, but you need to learn how to capture your audience and talk to them in ways they are going to respond to on emotional and personal basis if they are going to remember you beyond the time you spend together. Here business coach and executive training expert, Nicole Soames, chief executive of Diadem Performance gives her top five tips on storytelling.
If you have a good idea once, then there’s no harm in repeating it. Which is why we are pleased to take this week’s trip down memory lane to when we asked different leading figures in the wine PR industry to name the campaign they were most of, and the PR campaign they wish they had done. Here Rosamund (known as ‘Roza’ to one and all) Barton of R&R Teamwork looked back on the launch of Champagne Taittinger’s first foray into English wine and the announcement it has bought a vineyard in Kent and was going to make its own English sparkling wine. It ended up being a PR triumph. She also singled out Hazel Murphy for her groundbreaking Australian UK trade trip as the campaign she wished she’d done.
With so many websites, magazines, newsletters and daily emails it can be more of a case of news overload when it comes to keeping up with what is happening in the world of wine. But how much of it is relevant or interesting to you? Inspired by weekly wrap-style podcasts from other sectors, MW students, Katie Canfield and Matthew Gaughan, have decided to offer a similar service for the wine industry with their new Wined Up Weekly podcast which is a short 10 to 15 minute round up of the stories, issues and debates they think are the most important. Here’s how they bring it all together.
If you work in the wine industry then Twitter has become the go to social media platform for lively debates, discussions and tos and fros about all things that are going on in wine on a daily basis. But if you are a regular Twitter user then you will have seen how some of that debate has turned somewhat in recent months into more than just a passionate sharing of views. Sorcha Holloway, who has built her own Twitter community through her weekly @ukwinehour, believes it is time we all take a collective look at ourselves and how we are behaving on social media and remember that Twitter is there to communicate rather than lecture, harass or worse.
While most festival goers at Glastonbury this year would be happy enough to find a drop of ice cold water, two years ago our intrepid contributor Chris Wilson went in search of a decent drop of wine (cue canned laughter). Chris set off, empty wine glass in hand, but the choice he found was mainly between Echo Falls and Pennard’s Organic English Wine from Somerset with very little else in-between. Surely a missed opportunity muses Chris. If you’re heading there this weekend, or if you’re watching it on telly with a crisp glass of Chablis in hand, read with mirth, Chris’s vain attempts to mix Glasto with nice vino.
If you asked a 100 UK wine experts to write down one grape variety that best demonstrates what English wine can do, then you would be guaranteed a wide range of answers. Probably the most divisive and Marmite of all varieties grown in the UK is Bacchus, with seemingly as many distractors as there are admirers. To try and get to know and understand what styles of English wine Bacchus is helping to produce, Richard Bampfield MW and Laura Clay put on what they believe was the biggest Bacchus-only tasting in London last week. Here Bampfield explains how the tasting was organised and what lessons and conclusions could be drawn from all the Bacchus wines on show.
Once a staple of the tasting calendar, the Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne annual London tasting has been something of a moveable feast in recent years, as the CIVC has experimented with new locations and formats. After last year’s event at the London Wine Fair fell a bit flat, it was time to think again. Stepping into the gap, a communications guru and a new, more commercial, approach for Taste Champagne London 2019. So did it fizz? Chris Wilson went along for The Buyer to deliver his report card.
If you are looking forward to your summer holiday and putting your feet up for a while, then spare a thought for all the Masters of Wine students around the world who have just gone through the final series of exams for the wine industry’s equivalent of the Olympics. Only it is a lot easier to win a gold medal than it is to get the highly coveted MW letters after your name. Here we wind the clock back a year to last June when Richard Siddle analysed just what it means to be an MW in the pressurised world of the wine industry. It is one thing having the knowledge, but how good are you applying it to the hard commercial realities of doing business and buying and selling wine.
Sales of sweet wine began dipping about 20 years ago, just at the wrong time for the wines of Tokaj. This famed wine producing region of Hungary used to provide wines to grace the tables of the kings and queens of Europe, reputedly a favourite of the Sun King himself, Louis XIV. Next year will mark 100 years since the damaging Treaty of Trianon, followed by a 20th century of political strife, but the wines themselves are increasingly consistent and top class. Seeing first hand the labour, time, and effort that go into each bottle, Mike Turner believes that these wines deserve a place on wine lists across the country and current prices are a steal for such a quality product.
As Australia looks back on one of the hottest summers in its history, Giles Cooke MW says it should be a clarion call to all of the country’s wine industry to seriously wake up to the climate change challenge. Whilst he and other smaller winemakers are busy introducing more climate-friendly, robust grape varieties, like Nero d’Avolo at Thistledown Wines he set up with Alliance Wine’s Fergal Tynan MW in the Riverland, most of the major producers are burying their heads in the sands and carrying on regardless with water guzzling varieties like Chardonnay and Shiraz. The time, he says, for action and change has come.
The Languedoc means many things to different people. One of the world’s largest wine regions, with 23 different appellations and 19 PGIs, the Languedoc has been questioning its own identity of late. Two years ago it was changing its name to Occitanie, but that hasn’t taken root, instead some of the appellations such as Sommières are going the opposite direction and lobbying hard to remove the word Languedoc completely – in much the same way that Coteaux du Languedoc changed itself to AOC Terrasses Du Larzac, and managed to start increasing its prices. Victor Smart, travelled the region and discovered success stories and improving quality, with the Far East picking up on Languedoc’s strengths, and a heavy emphasis on more sustainable viticulture.
Anyone who has ever met Mike Turner will know he is no stranger to using three words when one will do. When it comes to his passion for sustainable, organic, and biodynamic winemaking, however, he’s more than happy for the on-trade to group these together with terms that show off an ethos to the wine buyers of the UK. Bibendum’s “Mindful Winemaking” push is welcome and timely and, he argues, makes our lives so much easier in promoting a more ethically sound product that there are no excuses not to get involved anymore.
Building a community online is now crucial if you are looking to sell wine or spirits direct to consumers. In fact it is important even if you are relying on traditional routes to market. Consumers are increasingly looking to get closer to the brands, retailers and services they trust and believe in. Jeremy Thomson, founder of Common Collective,
explains how brands and operators can use effective social media and content to create a community online that can eventually become your customer base and biggest fans.