Wine Marketing with Michael Cox
This show was published 10 August 2007
Michael Cox, now director of Wines of Chile, set up the UK office of Yalumba in 1990 to launch Oxford Landing. Michael lived and worked in Australia in the 1980's and recognised the opportunities for Australian wine in the UK. He left the family business and launched Oxford Landing in the UK- by 1992 they had achieved good distribution in both the on and off trade.
Michael believes a difficulty with marketing new world wines in the UK has been the British consumer's faithfulness to old world wines and old world wine styles. The challenge remains to encourage wine drinkers to be open to new world countries - the best is yet to come with the tremendous drive for quality in the new world that is now happening.
Homogeny of wine in the UK is a real problem at the bottom end of the market. With more premium wines there needs to be a level of complexity and not just 'sunshine in the bottle'. Thankfully, New world wine producers are striving for this. To avoid homogeny Michael thinks it is important to emphasise a sense of place when marketing a country or a wine - people like French wine because it is mysterious, the Appelation Controlee system is so complex you can lose yourself and that is almost an advantage with consumers.
In the interview we discuss how do you develop a sense of place if everybody is making similar modern styles of wine. How can you differentiate a moderate climate, modern fruit driven cab sav from another moderate climate fruit driven cab. The marketing and a sense of place starts to be more related to the personality of the brand rather than the contents of the bottle. Personally I agree with the need for a sense of place but not through marketing tricks. Personality in a wine should not come from high volume, cheap plonk. To get a true expression of place in a wine, you need to spend £7+ on a bottle. That is where interesting flavours and complexity start to show through. Below that price point the wines are usually huge volume blends from multiple vineyards and sites. The only way to recover is for the wine to develop a personality that has little to do with the wine and more to do with the culture of the region or country. We talked about 'sunshine in a bottle' for Australian wine or, in New Zealand, a clean and green place. Neither of these are descriptors of the wine but they do provide positive imagery that creates a warm, fuzzy feeling about the wine.
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