Nov 30: The hybrid version of the World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) which introduced WBWE Connect during the 12th year of its existence, thanks to the Corona pandemic, on 23 Nov-4 Dec 2020 to bring together the buyers and sellers who have been using the WBWE platform, has been an excellent innovation with the World Bulk Wine Chats by Robert Joseph, an adequate substitute for the traditional Conferences, writes Subhash Arora
‘There are no Sherry stands but it is incorrect to presume that the Bulk wine show has only cheap low end wines. At the World Bulk Wine Exhibition, one can also find Chianti, Châteauneuf-du Pape and Chablis. There are very good quality wines from producers in Australia and Chile. You might find 5 Pinot Grigio from a single producer! You can taste and plan making your own blend,’ says Robert Joseph, the UK based wine guru who also produces wines Le Grand Noir in the South of France and successfully exports to India.
This year, physical interaction was not possible so WBWE Connect was devised. Through this concept, the organisers put you in touch with the exhibitors who best meet your buying profile.
Robert was inaugurating a series of 2-way Talks online on 23 November with Adam Lechmere, former Editor-at- Large of Decanter and now Editor-at-Large of Club Oenologique Magazine, who was the felicitator. He was talking about the importance of Bulk Wine Exhibition and its benefits and looking at his crystal ball, sharing his views on the future of global wine and the Industry.
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WBWE won’t be same
‘World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) is fascinating since everyone is there for the same reason-buying and to study if the vintage prices are going up or down. There is a Silent Tasting zone where one may taste 400 wines quietly with the relevant information provided. For instance, if you are interested in Chardonnay, you could taste 30-40 different wines and talk to the exhibitor after the degustation.’ Some of the wines are really delicious, said Robert. These are of course not fine wines and some of these wines might be used for premiumising.
Fine wine definition
Robert took the lead and talked about his views of the future 10-20 years in the wine business- he has been writing a book Future of Wine and is considered an authority on the subject. He started by explaining that the definition of Fine Wine has changed over the last 30 years. In the 1980’s it was Bordeaux, Burgundy and Porto. There were no Brunello, Chianti or Californian wines. In future, all these and from countries like South Africa, Uruguay and Chile may also be included. Even varieties like Pinot Grigio and Malbec could be a part of these wines. Prosecco is ubiquitous now but it was not the case earlier.
Due to climate change, alcohol levels of many of the earlier fine wines have gone up. Burgundy touched 14.5% this year. Aging style has been changing. Familiar appellations mean that new flavours like mint chocolates, tea will also qualify as fine wines.
New Technology and Distribution
‘Branding First’ would be the motto. For instance, Pinot Grigio could be from anywhere. ‘Cupcake’ and ‘19 Crimes’ sell as brands and could be from any country or region. Even Penfolds has gone on to become Californian though Mateus and Lindeman’s have not succeeded. New Technology and Digital distribution will be more in use. For instance, one could tell Alexa to order a wine like Merlot based on one’s preference.
When Adam asked Robert about various packaging and scope for the explosion of canned wines and their future, with some people perceiving a change in the taste, he opined that that there was an increasing demand with companies like Saint Michelle trying to premiumise these wines. But in general, the rates have been flat in the US and the canning has been concentrated in entry level wines. Of course, convenience has been a big factor in their explosive consumption.
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Smaller bottles for Tastings
‘Covid has created an interesting case for smaller samples of wines for guided tastings. Small bottles in cardboard boxes of 6 tasting shots each, are going to become increasingly popular. In fact, we will see service companies which will do this sub-contracted job. It is likely that someone might come up with a small machine costing $2-3000 that can be used by wine companies to meet this new packaging demand. I feel 12 bottle cases will be more popular though.’
Branding for other products
Robert is surprised why big wine companies have not yet used their branding to sell other products like it is common in the fashion industry. ‘I wonder why there is no Latour Hotel or Yquem cosmetics, like Mont Blanc and Cartier,’ he said.
Robert averred that most wine business is emotional and irrational in that ‘what works for me may not work for my neighbour and what works for me today, might not work tomorrow’.
Quality or quantity
Another area of discussion involved in the Future of Wine was whether quality or quantity will reign supreme in future. There is too much talk going on about restraining to 2-3 glasses a day. Smaller amounts are being recommended by Studies. So the quality will continue to play an important rule.
A few questions from the audience were requested online and addressed. All in all, a very refreshing conversation between two British stalwarts of the wine industry. Robert of course, also entered production and marketing of wines in a partnership- Le Grand Noir is already being exported to India through Sula Vineyards and is considered one of the highly successful brands in the recent history, proving that Robert puts his money where his mouth is, making his views worth emulating.
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This series is a part of WBWEconnect that goes on till 4 December and is held at 1030 pm IST (6 pm CST). For further details, click: https://www.worldbulkwine.com/talks/ WBWEconnect Chats may not be a perfect substitute for wine conferences organised by the World Bulk Wine Exhibition. But, this format is more than adequate during the current period of low/no travel and would help connect with both sides as sellers and buyers and those seeking wine knowledge.
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