Thoughts from the Wine Vision conference

Climate change, health, social media and – that old chestnut – the nature of marketing

The three days I spent at the Wine Vision conference organised by William Reed in London recently were very rewarding. One can always find fault with such events and some of the panel sessions were disappointing in terms of lack of depth, but overall there was plenty of food for thought.

Here are six of the numerous thoughts I highlighted. They cover a fairly broad spectrum and are presented in no particular order. In some cases they served to reinforce views I already held – but usually that in itself can be invaluable.

Climate change is happening

For the benefit of anyone who still doubts this, that was the theme of Miguel Torres’ presentation, a message he backed up with plenty of substance.

The effects of climate change are inevitably going to be more obvious to anyone in a category with an agricultural ethos. Interestingly, Torres was not unduly pessimistic about the process: on one level it will simply require producers to think hard about the consequences, and then laterally about the solutions. However, there is no doubt that dealing with climate change will require significant investment and resource; resource that is much needed elsewhere in such a competitive market.

In terms of lateral thinking, Torres touched on a key issue. In regions where there are very strict regulations on what can or can’t be planted, there will need to be an openness to fundamental change, and in good time. That could well be an  interesting challenge.

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Basking in the success of Sauvignon Blanc ?

The next twelve months will be a critical period for New Zealand’s producers.

(  This piece first appeared last month as my column in )

A recent report by Bibendum noted that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is losing ground to Sauvignon from Chile and South Africa in the UK, due to significant price increases . At around the same time Jamie Goode suggested that now is a good time for Touraine producers to promote their own Sauvignon, given the gap that has opened up by these increases.

If Philip Gregan ( the CEO of NZ Winegrowers) is correct then producers in New Zealand are not unduly concerned about the situation. He noted that “ We have returned to where we were in 2008”, in other words before soaring supply led to heavy discounting in the UK.  New Zealand, he went on to say,” never has been and never will be  a low cost wine producing country ”.

Producers will certainly be less concerned if the current generic strategy pays off. They are  in the process of broadening their distribution base for Sauvignon with the objective of becoming far less dependent on the UK. They are also broadening their varietal base and become less dependent on Sauvignon itself, and its this latter strategy that particularly interests me.

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