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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Upstart Wine Region Woes...
Give it time my friend. Changing a paradigm of perception towards a particular region of the wine world never happens at the rate 'we at the ground floor' wish it would. Even w/ all its clout and gusto, California needed some pretty watershed events like the Paris tasting to start planting the global seed of where there quality was headed (and foreign wine imports still only account for 3-5% of the consumption of France!). Wine, in particular, seems to necessitate a much longer consumer evolution to foreign ideas. Although American consumption looks to be number one globally by 2009, what wine are we actually drinking? Blue chip Bordeaux, Super Tuscans, Brunello…the ‘best’ of lesser regions, and an assload of commercial swill. There are certainly minority pockets that thrive on the relatively obscure or ‘under the radar,’ but in order to get the image of PORTugal to shift…the press, marketing, global tastings of intrigue, etc. needs to galvanize more consumer awareness and excitement…which typically has a domino affect.

Regions like Argentina, while on the map, are fighting for a more ‘world class’ recognition to command higher price tags for their best juice…and fighting a battle of resistance consisting of ’80 bucks for an Argentinean wine?' Commercial success for South American countries has almost created a stigma, hampering top quality producers from success at the top level. In spite of the pre-conceived notions, the absolute best wines from those countries are truly astounding and are at relative bargains. I, as a consumer, thrive on their relative lack of respect and gobble them up at under-valued levels. Portugal’s relative anonymity can currently work in savvy consumer favor as they are undervalued. Unfortunately they don’t seem to have the domestic distribution necessary to reach consumers w/ ease. I am uncertain of what importers have taken active interest in Portuguese table wines, but big name retailers need to start taking some risks by creating more shelf space for these beauties. With big name regions of France asking for stratospheric prices, quality minded consumers are going to start looking elsewhere. I’d imagine varietal labeling, more assertive branding and top notch ‘commercial level’ wines are necessary for Portugal to succeed in the States. The Australian model is a perfect example…

I don’t know how much orchestration the country has put together, but I suggest they start ramping up. While ‘these things take time,’ they also take a lot of coordinated effort. The beauty of this rant is, it gives me a reason to have some nationalistic pride…and in spit of how jaded I can be, I know there wines can be that good.

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